Technology advancements allow small business growth

Up-front investment no longer business killer.

May 23, 2013

Up-front investment no longer business killer

A common cause of business failure is over-investment in fixed assets; the high costs associated with purchasing, setting up and managing infrastructure, hardware and software can be daunting and detrimental to the cash required to fund growth of the business.

Advances in technology have made many of these costs more flexible and manageable, creating an environment that allows small businesses to compete and succeed in the business world. Rihana Hoosain, Head of Products at MWEB, provides guidance to small business owners:

Connectivity and Mobility
Businesses need fast, reliable Internet connectivity. You need to know what your data needs are before selecting the package that best suits your business – what kind of upload and download speeds do you need, do you need prioritised lines for Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), or Video Conferencing, do you need access to large amounts of data or will you only need to run email and basic web searches?

Having an uncapped (no limit on the amount of data you use), unshaped (no prioritisation of certain traffic types over others) ADSL line would be extremely beneficial to a Graphic Designer or Advertising Agency, whereas to an Accountant it may be overkill. You also need to consider the speed you need; line speeds range from 1Mbps (slowest) to 40Mbps (fastest); and not all areas have 40Mbps lines available.

Some businesses can afford a leased line, which is a dedicated Diginet link between their premises and their ISP that connects their entire local and wide area networks to the Internet for a fixed monthly fee. If this is outside of your budget, there are hosted solutions available to increase your capacity, such as Bonded ADSL which offers single channelled high speed links, as well as wireless link rental solutions which can be more affordable than a traditional leased line.

To access the Internet from your mobile device or laptop while you are out and about; you would need to look at a Wi-Fi or a 3G solution and take the network coverage in the areas you frequent into account in order to get the most out of it.

Hosted servers
As technology has developed, there is little need for a small business to purchase their own server infrastructure when there are companies that provide the hardware and host servers in a fast, secure and stable environment at a fraction of the cost.

Another benefit of hosted servers is that you do not need to wait for the technology infrastructure to be implemented as your business takes on new customers, opens new branches or expands nationally or internationally. Additionally, if your business needs to downsize quickly, you aren’t hamstrung by paying for additional infrastructure you don’t need. By using hosted servers and virtual technology, you are able to upgrade or downgrade your hardware remotely, and create or remove additional virtual machines or services instantly and easily.

Security and backups
Small businesses often cut corners when it comes to securing their information and ensuring they have backups of vital business data. This could prove devastating should a disaster, security breach or virus hit the business. Also, with the POPI (Protection of Personal Information) bill being passed into law this year, even small businesses will need to ensure they protect their customer’s data.

Your ISP should assist you to cost-effectively ensure you have the right security options for all your technology to keep your business and information safe. Today with cloud computing being recognised as safe and affordable, backing up your key data offsite in the ‘cloud’ has never been easier.

Software to manage the business
Previously setting up business management software; such as email, calendars, collaboration tools, Word, PowerPoint, Excel and CRM systems; required significant up-front investment in terms of licences and contracts. Although crucial, these tools were often too expensive to be a viable option for small businesses.

With the introduction of monthly rental software services, such as Microsoft 365, you can access a central source of familiar software applications and pay monthly rental fees to use only what you need when you need them, allowing small businesses access to.

In conclusion
There is no longer a need to invest massive amounts of upfront capital in order to access recognised world class services. Knowing exactly what is available and assessing your technology needs will free up your start-up cash and allow you to grow your business.