Setting up a small business network: What you need
to know

Author: Adam Kimmel

Date revised: March 28, 2024

When starting a new small business, there are a number of fundamental business questions you need to take into consideration and address, including how to set up a small business network that best meets your needs and your budget. This article provides an overview of what you need to know to get started.

Determining equipment needs

When deciding how to set up a small business network, one consideration is which routers and equipment will best meet your businesses’ needs. Routers direct, or “route,” traffic between devices and the internet and play an important role in a business network. 

One temptation might be to use consumer-quality routers and equipment. With fewer than five employees, this approach might mimic the demand a family places on a home network. 

The challenge, however, comes when your company grows and you need to incorporate  additional devices and features. At that point, you will need routers and equipment that have a higher degree of integration and are durable enough to withstand the increased use and have sufficient or the necessary range.  

Setting up a small business network that meets both current and future needs

When it comes to setting up their small business network, many 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.

While the upfront cost might be lower for this type of small business network setup, the inefficiency created by this approach outweighs its short-term benefit. Agile companies understand this and design a small business network to suit both current and future needs.

In addition, a small business network setup needs to take into account the potential impact of a power outage on its business operations. For example, do you need to plan for additional hardware to ensure resiliency? Are there budget or space constraints that would prevent you from bringing in redundant equipment? The type of business you are considering, coupled with the impact of downtime, helps to answer these questions and scope the network design.

A small business network setup also should take into consideration its long-range growth plans and purchase network equipment that can be scaled or recreated in parallel to support its future plans. 

During a 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 costs.

Determining capital and workforce investment costs

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 to help you solve your software, hardware or cloud problems.

Securing data

Once you define the size and support approach for the network, another important consideration in your small business network setup is keeping your data secure. 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

A small business network setup 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 considerations for any business.  

But for small business owners, figuring out how to set up their small business network can be daunting. That’s where Verizon can help. Learn more about how the right network for your business can help your small business grow at scale on your terms.

The author of this content is a paid contributor for Verizon.