Disclosure: Post sponsored by Comcast Small Business, but all opinions are my own. Please see below for additional disclosure.
Your business is and will be impacted by technology one way or the other. Those precious moments you spend trying to think ahead and anticipate your needs, can really make it or break it. The best part is that you don’t have to do it alone. Here are some tips that can be useful.
Use a managed connectivity provider.
Shannon Heil and Tommy Guest own the comfort food restaurant, Milkhouse, located in Center Station in Philadelphia. Their specialty: grilled cheese, fresh cut fries, ice cream and homemade soups. This fast casual restaurant is pretty busy, they seat around 300 people for lunch and it can get pretty hectic.
They have 4 point of sale terminals that rely on Wi-Fi and can be accessed remotely by the owners to see how the business is doing. They allow customers to place orders using iPads on the restaurant and they even have electronic menu billboards that can be changed with just a few clicks. Their customers can easily connect to their guest network, which the owners can even manage using their smartphone. Their business is based on quickness and they depend on the reliability and speed of their connections.
To put it all together, they use Comcast Business for their Internet, Point of Sale, Managed Wi-Fi and Internet connection. This provides them an all-in-one solution so they can not only simplify and deal with one vendor, but everything is integrated and easy to manage so they can focus on continuing to perfect the house specialty, the grilled cheese sandwich just like Mom used to make.
Move your e-mail to the cloud.
A good example of this is e-mail. Recently, I visited a friend of mine that was still keeping an e-mail server in his office, even though he only has a handful of employees. The software was old, the server was constantly down and every time the IT guy came to visit, it was several hundreds of dollars. After moving to a cloud e-mail server, all those issues went away.
Yes, there is a small monthly cost per user but that’s the price you pay for tech support on an ongoing basis, having access to all the latest features and for customers to not constantly receive returned messages. This came with the added benefit of sophisticated spam filters and an antivirus scan that prevents the latest malware from infecting his computers.
There are several services that your business can use for managing e-mails, documents and much more such as Google Apps for Business, Office 365 and Intermedia, which consolidate many of these functions and remove the headaches of managing your own server.
Don’t reinvent the wheel when it comes to your online presence.
When it comes to building and maintaining your website, which is a MUST, there are now more choices than ever. Which is great, but can also be confusing. There are two fundamental paths, to host or to outsource. You can manage and host a sophisticated Content Management System such as WordPress. This is a great option if you are technically savvy and have the time or resources to learn all the intricacies. I recommend going with a simple solution such as Squarespace, or Shopify. These are cloud services that provide many advantages such as out of the box customizable designs, easy to use interfaces, great support, managed payment systems and improved security. You can build a basic site or store in just a couple of days and go back to focusing on managing your business.
One thing’s for sure, being a business owner will always have its challenges and technologies will continue advancing at a faster pace than we are comfortable with. Instead of having to own the hardware, software and the maintenance, you can now outsource all this infrastructure, save money, be more secure and maximize your number one resource as a business owner… your time.