8 Basic IT Essentials for Start-ups
Due to financial constraints, many start-ups or Small-Medium Enterprises (SME) are frugal when spending on their IT infrastructure. Before you know it, your savings may cost you much more in the long run if you do not invest now.
In today’s post, we will suggest some of the basic IT needs for your office, in no particular order.
1. Register a domain name for your company.
I have received many business name cards with their email as firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Wouldn’t it be great if your email address had your company domain name on it? This will give a professional impression of you, from your business card.
If you have a company with less than 10 staff, Google provides a service called Google Apps which allows you to use their email server for free. Your email address will be shown as firstname.lastname@example.org instead of email@example.com. If you need help, we can help you link your domain name to Google Apps. You can also opt to register for an email hosting plan (DNS hosting) for email communication only.
RM55 for .com, RM80 for .com.my, RM120 for .my.
RM50 DNS hosting
2. Use a website to showcase your brand, product and services.
You may not have the budget to hire a full-fledged web designer but you can always get a Web-Hosting plan which allows installation of WordPress in your hosting package. With WordPress, you can buy really nice professional /corporate themes and customize it to your business needs.
Shared Web-Hosting plan: ranges between RM100 – RM500 per year
WordPress setup: Free
WordPress themes: range between FREE – RM1000
3. File Sharing / Storage Facilities.
You will need a centralized file-storage system to share files among your staff. Some of you may not have the budget to invest in a Microsoft Server with its Client Access License (CAL) – in other words, license for each client/computer. There are cheaper alternatives out there for you to have your files stored in a centralized location; check out Network Access Storage Solution.
There is a really easy-to-use interface for you to work with. Besides that, it has a folder-permission-access feature where individual folders can be locked and information access given to authorized users only. When all your files are stored in a centralized location, it gives easier access for all your staff without them having to carry around thumb drives or external hard disk drives.
Network Access Storage System: ranges between RM1000 – RM5000 (hardware + setup)
4. Backup System.
Hard disk drives will fail. The question is not “Will it fail?” but rather “When?”. If you are reading this and you have not backed up your files, DO IT NOW. Do not risk losing years of data and memories captured in photographs.
Backup systems can be as simple as a manual copy-and-paste from your laptop to an external hard disk drive, or spending on an enterprise backup solution. As a start-up or SME/SMI, our suggestion is to get a network-attached storage (NAS) which runs 2 or more hard disks which mirror (RAID) each other. NAS usually comes with a software that can be configured to automatically back data up from your PC to the storage location. Do not think twice about investing on this. Your data is worth much more than that.
Simple backup system: RM250 to RM7500
5. Anti-virus Software.
A lot of us like free stuff but you should no compromise your computer security by downloading free anti-virus software from the web. Free can only do that much. A lot of the viruses / worms / malware may not be detected, and, even if they can, they may not be able to remove those malicious programs. Invest a little more to protect your machines. Anti-virus software such as Symantec End Point or Kaspersky Antivirus/Internet Security are available at an affordable rate.
Antivirus software: between RM35 – RM100 / user
6. Internet Connection.
In an era where communication and information are all through the World Wide Web, we cannot afford to not have decent internet connectivity in our office. There are many providers out there for broadband services. Our recommendation is to use UniFi by TMNet – Read more about what we think of UniFi. If UniFi is not available in your area, your next option is Streamyx. There are also wireless internet service providers like YES 4G, P1 Wimax, Maxis, Digi or Celcom broadband if you do not have access to the first two options.
Internet Connection: between RM65 to RM199/month
7. Local Area Network (LAN) & Wireless Setup.
No man is an island. As cliché as it may sound, all of us need to be connected, be it to the printer, storage system, etc. Get someone to cable up your office so that all your staff are connected to each other. Leave wireless as the second option, unless they need to move around in the office, because wired connections are always more stable and have better transmission rate (i.e. faster).
All you need is a network switch and a wireless access point. Have an overview plan of your networking map on how you would like to install the cables and where you want to lay them. It is best to do it during renovation so that your contractor can conceal the network cables.
Cables: RM100 – RM150 / point
Switch: RM100 – RM800
Wireless Router / Access Point: RM200 – RM600
You may need a printer to print official documents, proposals, hard copy quotations, etc. Get a laser printer which works faster compared to an inkjet. Even colour laser printers are affordable nowadays.
Printer : RM300 – RM900
I hope these tips will help you kick-start your business operations on the IT-end. Our FatNinjas will be around if you need assistance. Just give us a shout!