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Considerations
for a new small
business network

Author: Adam Kimmel

When you start a new small business, there are many fundamental business questions you must answer: Where will we find consistent revenue? Who are the target clients? What is the right team size to meet customer demand? What is our growth strategy? Is our product or service sustainable, and what is our value proposition?

Below these challenging questions lie the mechanics of business operations. While company leaders ponder how to define and approach their business model, another prime concern is the small business network they select.

Businesses too often strain existing infrastructure with additional tools and hardware. This strategy leads to a high amount of manual entry, human error, communications issues and user frustration. The upfront cost might be lower, but the inefficiency created by this approach outweighs its short-term benefit. Agile companies understand this and design a network to suit both current and future needs.

Considerations for a new small business network setup

One temptation might be to use consumer-quality switches and routers to determine a new company's needs. With less than five employees, this might mimic the demand a family places on a home network. The challenge comes when the company grows and you want to incorporate more devices and features. At that point, you will need to learn about switches and routers that have a higher degree of integration and are durable enough to withstand the increased use.

Planning for the network that fits your needs

It's essential to think about an outage's impact when designing your new network. Should you plan for additional hardware to ensure resiliency? Are there budget or space constraints that would prevent bringing in redundant equipment? The type of business you are considering, coupled with the impact of downtime, helps to scope the network design.

For scale, it's smart to project the longer-range growth plan, and put in network equipment today that can be scaled or recreated in parallel to support the plan. During the new company's infancy, you can assess the appropriateness of the equipment-to-employee ratio. Future expansion can reflect the optimized level. Scaling is likely more cost-advantaged, as you are not over-buying at a time when cash is thin. Creating the framework and integrating new pieces of equipment in the future addresses the scale without the excessive, upfront cost.

Level of capital and workforce investment

The cost of network equipment and computers themselves can be daunting. Information technology (IT) spending is an indirect cost, making it a prime target for budget pressure. While comprising a small percentage of revenue, IT spend tends to be higher for new small businesses as they absorb the upfront costs of tech that will likely save money over time. And while business size is a factor in determining IT budget as a percentage of revenue, Computer Economics notes that it's not the most important one. Businesses would do better to base IT spend on industry as opposed to size or region. And revenue should not be the only consideration; businesses should also think about IT spending per employee, per user and per device.

One of the most flexible ways a small business can scale its staff is through outsourcing support. Many small businesses are not yet able to maintain an in-house IT team, so adding an external partner can provide on-demand support. This approach is budget-friendly and adds the expertise of the contractor to your small team. One source of ad hoc technical support is the Verizon TechTeam, which provides around-the-clock access to network experts. The team is ready to solve any software, hardware or cloud problems the moment you need it.

Security concerns

Once you define the size and support approach for the network, keeping data secure is the next step. You can encrypt the most sensitive data and add small business firewalls to secure it. Another safeguard to data security is mobile device management, which enables you to monitor and manage your devices to keep your data secure.

Building the right network for you

Designing and creating a small business network requires careful planning. Identifying and planning a network strategy, investing in capital and support staff, protecting data security and choosing a network location are all critical to defining the best small business network.

Learn more about how the right network for your business can help you grow at scale on your terms.