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Setting up
a small business
network:
Rules for success

Author: Heidi Vella

Small businesses have a lot to consider. They need to develop systems and processes that allow the business to grow and make money, all while lessening costs and helping to keep the business and its people safe. While there are lots of factors involved, setting up a small business network is a great solution for growing businesses.

A fast, secure, and reliable small business network setup is a great way to safely access and share files and other software resources with employees across multiple devices. The best small business networks function at real-time speeds and use the same cyber security protections, helping managers and staff do more, faster, while maintaining safety standards.

Understandably, many new small businesses are often strapped for time and financial resources. Here are some simple questions to consider when deciding what kind of internet solution your small business network may need.

Questions for business network success

  • Does the business have more than one location? The number of locations will impact the size and setup of the network needed.
  • Are there multiple users, tablets, and devices, and will they need access to key documents and information at the same time? Knowing this will help you determine if your business needs a wired, wireless or hybrid network.
  • Will the business need to download large files as part of day-to-day operations and conversely, how often do they need to upload large files? The answer to this question will impact the upload and download speeds and bandwidth your network needs.
  • Do the business goals include growth in the short and medium-term? If so, you may want to consider a network setup with inbuilt flexibility that enables easy expansion.

If the answer to any of the above was yes, then business internet solutions might be the right option for your small business network. To establish the right small business network setup, consider the following:

  • What is the size and location of the business, and what kind of applications does it frequently use? Small businesses that have a number of employees might mean that you need an appropriate amount of bandwidth.
  • What is the business' affordability range? This could determine what kinds of services you can set up for your business.
  • What kind of coverage does it require? Businesses that have multiple locations or that operate in more remote areas will need to ensure that they stay secure and connected with coverage virtually everywhere they do business.
  • What are the business' future goals? Knowing this can help you determine if you would need an internet service that could scale with your business as it develops.

Getting your small business network setup right the first time

First, it's important to keep things simple. A complex network requiring multiple solutions and platforms is likely to be confusing and costly to use. What's better is an out-of-the-box, single-platform, easy-to-set-up, reliable solution provided by a trusted partner. This way, management can focus fewer resources on troubleshooting and more on customers and staff.

What kind of network and hardware should you opt for? 

This will depend on the kind of network required, whether wired or wireless. The kind of hardware required is likely to include a network adapter and router, plus various ethernet cables depending on the type of network you choose.

How will the network be built?

Depending on the complexity of the network opted for, setup can be simple—setting up the router and network adapter, if needed—or more complicated. Every device and server will need to be connected to the main network so they can communicate with each other. It's then necessary to test the connectivity between the devices and configure the firewall as advised by the manufacturer. IT leaders might choose to do this entire process themselves or opt for an installation service for ease. When thinking about setup, it's worth considering the benefits of an out-of-the-box, easy-to-set-up, reliable single solution provided by a trusted partner.

What is the right kind of pricing structure? 

The type of network chosen will likely depend on the businesses' budget and vision for growth, and so will the type of pricing structure. Straightforward pricing structures, that guarantee costs for several years or months, can eliminate concerns about hidden charges and escalating costs. Does your business vision include expansion and will that require a different network setup? You might consider a tiered small business network solution that scales with you as you grow. Additionally, a complex network requiring multiple solutions and platforms is likely to be confusing and costly to use. But before committing, IT leaders should consider how they expect their business to grow and evolve and how this will impact ongoing network costs into the future. 

Flexibility for small business network setup success

For most growing small businesses, network flexibility should be a top priority. A flexible network will support nascent businesses by easily adjusting and growing along with the business needs and services. If flexibility isn't built-in, businesses could risk tying themselves into restrictive contracts that stifle growth.

Businesses will likely want to add features as they go: video surveillance, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), unified communications or a new technology that is not yet widely available. To invest in a network that is designed to grow over time is to bank on the business and its ability to prosper.

Apprehension over a small business network setup is understandable but often misplaced. With the right partner, it is easy to achieve, saves the company money, provides crucial protection, is quick to deliver on productivity gains and allows everyone to focus on the most important thing—successfully growing your business.

Learn more about how small business networks can help your business grow.

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