Abe Milde, CTO and Co-Founder, Reframe Marketing, Vancouver, BC
Setting up an IT network and website is all about doing things right from the start, meaning getting a professional’s input if you are unsure about something. I have come across numerous times where business owners tell me that they do not need any help with their website or network because their nephew is taking care of it all. The hard part is when that nephew is in school when the network goes down and the business is disrupted for an entire day, and then another three or four days while he troubleshoots the issue. Just imagine the amount of productivity time and money lost!
Some basic things to consider when setting up an IT network:
1) Internet Connection. If you want to connect to the rest of the world you’ll want an internet connection. There are lots of providers to choose from and most phone and cable providers will have options for you.
2) Router. This is the piece of equipment that directs the traffic between all of your computers and the internet. Some internet providers will supply you with this. You can get either a wireless router or a wired router (most wireless routers will have a few wired connection points as well) and you can have both wired and wireless networks on the same router as long as it supports it.
3) Performance. A wireless network will enable you to move your computer around easily and work from anywhere inside the office however, it will not be as fast as a wired network. Evaluate the types of work you will be conducting and if it involves sharing large files often and using multimedia applications, you will need a wired connection. If you need more wired connections you can always purchase a switch which will allow you to connect more cables to the router.
4) Security. Now that your systems are linked together, it is important to keep your network from being accessed by unauthorized individuals. Be sure to set up your router with at least WPA2 encryption with a strong password for all your wireless connections.
Some basic things to consider when setting up a website:
1) Get a domain name. If you are serious about starting a business, do not operate your business under a personal domain name provided by your internet provider. Really, it does not look professional.
2) Find a web hosting provider. This company will store all the text, images and other files that you want to show on the web. Make sure this is a reputable company; I have seen too many sites that are really slow or are completely unavailable for days.
3) Design away. If you don’t know how to code there are lots of template sites out there now that you can use to kick things off. They don’t give your business that customized look, but it’s a good way of learning to use HTML. If you really want to do well on the web, I would recommend finding a company that has the experience to really bring you to the top.
In the end, the goal for both your IT network and website is to have them run as smoothly as possible, and make you look like a professional business.