IT Setup for Small Businesses and Professional Services

IT Setup for Small Businesses and Professional Services

Ryan Shelley

5 September 2016

The ideal IT setup for small business owners and the professional services industry.

As a professional or small business owner, it’s imperative that you have the correct technical set-up to support your ventures. We’ve compiled the top ‘must-haves’ to ensure you are able to work without the hassles that come with a sub-par operation.

IT setup for small business

1. Laptop

Number one on the list is the MOST crucial, the laptop. Weight is a key factor if you are visiting clients, carting your laptop from the office to home regularly or travel. You certainly don’t want to be lugging a brick around!

The Ultrabook (13-15inch, lightweight and fast) style laptops are brilliant for this. Utltrabooks habitually have a 13 to 15 inch screen size, are light weight and fast.

Our preferences are:

  • Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook – built for business, touch-screen enabled and more key features than you can poke a stick at, this is a powerful machine that won’t let you down. This has been my laptop for many  years. It is a solid machine, reliable and fast. For those who would like a a larger screen a 15 inch screen is available.
  • The Microsoft Surface Pro is also a good option. While it is advertised as the tablet that replaces your laptop, this machine is more laptop than tablet. Unlike the Mac iPad Pro, the Microsoft Surface runs a full operating system. From this machine you will be able to use all the Microsoft programs; Word, Excel, Outlook – and even programs that need a bit more grunt like Photoshop – the list goes on. The keyboard, which you purchase separately can sound a little tinny but for a lightweight laptop I look past this.
  • Lenova Yoga, Asus Zenbook or HP Spectre are also good options. Should you not want to consider the Dell or Microsoft product.

A Dell XPS 13 has been my laptop for many years. It is a solid machine, reliable and fast. For those who would like a larger screen a 15 inch screen is available.

2. Desktop Computer

In this day and age, an all-in-one desktop is preferable to the traditional tower and separate screen. It has all of the functionality for a fraction of the space. Again Dell is really to go to brand in the market. A must is a solid-state hard drive. Do not purchase any computer, be desktop or laptop without solid state drive. A Dell Optiplex or Dell Inspiron are worth checking out in the all in one range.

3. Data and Backup Systems

We don’t need to explain how imperative data is in this day and age, particularity with the AGL email cryptolocker scam that hit many clients in June this year. Lose your data and without a backup system in place – you’re toast.

The cloud is a great way to synchronise and back up your data. Google Drive and Dropbox are our go to providers and both are a very popular tool for small to mid sized businesses. Both cloud storage options enables you to work and sync your folders across a myriad of devices and team member plus sync in live time. There is no need to manually upload documents.

Along with your data – your email, calendar and contacts should also be stored in the cloud. Ideally, these should be managed by Microsoft’s 365 or Google for Work (Google Apps) email service. These services save you the overhead, time an responsibility of setting up and maintaining your own Exchange email server. With either option, you can easily access your email, calendar and contacts from any computer or device in the world – all by logging into your account.

While hard drives are somewhat old school method of backing up your data, it is still very effective. Hard drives, SHOULD NOT be relied upon as your only backup. Think of the hard drive as your second (fail safe) back up. We recommend backing up to a hard drive weekly (often on a Friday afternoon) and have two drives on rotation for extra precaution. Ideally one of the hard drives should be stored offsite to protect against theft or fire.

This fail safe method does require you to manually manage this process. Programs such as Free File Sync allow you to easily create automated batch jobs to copy your data to the external drive at set time every day or week. This will give you piece of mind knowing that your data is in the cloud – and also within arms reach on a hard drive you can reach out and touch.

4. Additional considerations in the IT setup for small business.

  • Anti-Virus Software – an absolute must and can be downloaded for free using AVG Free. Just be vigilant when installing updates as it will attempt to install a trial of the paid version by default. If you are after something more serious, we recommend the Kaspersky range of Anti-Virus products.
  • Printer / Scanner – There are many cheap, economical machines on the market through retailers such as Harvey Norman, JB HiFi and Office Works. A HP Laserjet all in one printer and scanner is a great investment for any business. Replacing toner cartridges can be expensive however the print quality is outstanding. Our favourite feature is the automatic, double sided, scanner – a real time saver!
  • Phone – iphone or android are both good options although iphone is definitely much easier to initially configure. An iphone will work seemly with Microsoft or Google products so you do not need to feel obligated to stick with other Apple products and services such as iCloud.

Hopefully that gives you a point in the right direction for getting your IT setup for small business up and running. It needn’t be expensive and it definitely doesn’t need to be complicated. We’re always happy to point you in the right direction with your IT setup for small business. Email us at hello@pepperIT.com.au or contact us here.