Starting a business – what do you need?
by Eleanor Glass
Starting a business doesn’t necessarily mean succeeding in business. It’s one thing to dream about being in business for yourself and quite another to make it a profitable reality. And your choices when it comes to technology are often what spells the difference between make or break.
“When starting in business you have a number of IT considerations,” says Danielle Watts, Intel’s small business marketing manager and Switzer’s technology expert. “Depending on the type and size of your business and staff, you will need to consider software applications, desktop or notebook options (or both), whether you require a networked system, the types of applications you are using and whether they require a lot of bandwidth or processing power.”
To take the headache out of getting started, we’ve covered off some basics below.
Tools to get your business online
Remember, starting an online business is just like starting any other kind of business. You have to be committed, have a comprehensive business plan, and a complete understanding of the wide world of business 2.0. And even if you’re not an online business, it’s important to have an online presence – after all, if you’re not online, how can you be top of mind? Here are some tips to get started:
Strategy: It’s important your site looks professional. If you want people to trust you with their online spend, you have to look legitimate. You’ll need a domain name, email addresses and a website that can be easily maintained and updated.
Functionality: When it comes time to develop your site, keep your design simple. Few customers will tolerate a site that’s hard to use. Doing business online means communicating with customers in a completely different way, and many customers just won’t hang around waiting if it’s too hard to buy from you.
Aesthetic: If you can’t afford a big-shot designer, then look closer to home – there are plenty of boutique design firms that can turn around something impressive for a tidy price. One of the benefits of opting for these is that they usually know freelance copywriters who can write and proof for you without the hassle of agency fees. There is nothing more unprofessional than spelling mistakes on your website. Always make sure you have someone proof the copy that will be on your site, and any additional supportive copy (like press releases, etc).
Make sure that when you are looking for a designer or creative that you have a good look at their portfolio of online work. If they don’t have one, then don’t use them. As they say, there are plenty more fish in the sea.
Maintenance: Make sure also that you either have a good (read: great) relationship with your web designer, or that you invest in a CMS that allows you to regularly update your content in keeping with your promotional schedule. Once again, a customer would be a fool to give you their hard-earned dollars if you can’t even be bothered to maintain an active web presence.
Driving leads: You’ve built it, but will they come? Make sure that you have a plan to drive qualified traffic and leads to your website: start a blog, partner up with complementary sites who enjoy high volumes of traffic (you may have to pay for this privilege), and consider investing in paid search engine marketing.
Ensure your hardware is up to the task: notebook vs. desktop
What do you need to start your business? When getting started, money is often too tight to mention, so you need to be sure to invest in the hardware that best suits your needs.
If you plan to be on the road, or spend the majority of your time with customers face-to-face, you should go for a notebook PC that ups your business in the mobility stakes. This might also apply if you’re working from home and don’t have a designated office space – no doubt your cohabitants won’t appreciate a desktop on the kitchen table!
Or if you’ll be office-bound, go for a great desktop PC. When choosing your hardware, be sure to go with an industry leader – a well-known brand will offer peace of mind and security in purchase. Intel processors – the brains of the PC – are in more than 80 per cent of desktop and notebook PCs.
A warning though: don’t buy a ‘bargain’ – chances are it will struggle with today’s operating system and business applications and can’t handle the next generation. Consider your hardware an investment, not an expense: get a PC with the most powerful processor you can afford so it will maximise the PC’s productive life.
“Intel has a family of Intel® Core™ processors for all PC user needs and price points,” says Watts.
And don’t skimp on your post-sales warranty – be sure to get extended warranty in case of problems, viruses and so on. Onsite support is a must.
“Beyond the basics, there are a few accessories everyone should consider buying for their computer. None of them will let you use your computer in ways you haven't already been able to, but they will make life just a little bit easier”
To avoid buying features you don’t need, read more tips from Watts.
If you’re looking to work on your business rather than being stuck in it, book in for a complimentary business assessment today with Switzer Business Coaching.
Important information: This content has been prepared without taking account of the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular individual. It does not constitute formal advice. For this reason, any individual should, before acting, consider the appropriateness of the information, having regard to the individual’s objectives, financial situation and needs and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice.
Published on: Monday, November 01, 2010