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Posted by A-Jay Orr

Top 3 Technology Needs for a Startup: Where to Begin?

So you’ve decided to go it alone…venture out into the great wide world and try your hand at business. You’re going to be your own boss, make your own rules, set your own vacation limits. And of course, you’re going to do it better than your predecessors. This is exciting stuff! But before you get ahead of yourself, you need to lay the proper groundwork; build a solid foundation on which your business will stand…

Every industry is different, which makes this question particularly challenging to answer. But no matter who you are, what you do, and what your business goals are — technology must be an integral part of your overall operation. Your customers demand it. Your competitors are already using it. And if you don’t — you will not have the necessary footing to contend.

On that note (and with full understanding that you’re on a tight budget with limited resources)
here are the most common technology needs for a startup. We’ll spare you the bore of listing things like a computer, printer/scanner, and internet connection. If you don’t realize these tech tools are in the cards for you, prepare for a long and bumpy road ahead! This list digs a little deeper and should help you figure out where to get started.

1. Secure Cloud Capability

The cloud is the great equalizer. It helps small- and mid-sized businesses compete at enterprise level and supports mobility (which is particularly important for a start-up, as you’ll be working overtime to get established). The question is — do you go with public, private or hosted? Your answer will depend on several factors, including:
How critical your data and applications are to the overall operation
Regulatory compliance obligations for your industry

In most cases, public clouds provide plenty of value for start-ups. The pay-as-you-go model is affordable and you gain easy access to all your computing resources. But if you operate within a highly regulated industry, such as finance, healthcare, online retail, etc. security issues with public clouds may be of concern and a private cloud may be ideal. Or better yet, a hybrid cloud that blend the best of both public and private.

2. Backup Drive

A backup drive stores a copy of your most important business files should some type of catastrophe cause you to lose the originals. There are three types from which to choose:

Manual drives: are your most basic backups. They’re cheap and easy to use, but obviously, they require your hands-on approach and may not be the most well-organized storage system.

Mirror drives: create a complete copy of your computer’s hard drive and offer automation features for Mac and PC that will create a copy for you each day (provided you set it up to correctly do so). Recovery is also a cinch with mirror drives, as you can recover specific files or all of them. But be careful — if you delete a file on your computer, it won’t miraculously end up in your backup. That baby is gone for good!

Full backup drives: This is the more powerful storage option, capable of restoring any file or folder to the way it was — even a few years ago. The backup process with these drives is automated, and recovery is just a matter of dragging or tagging the files.

3. A Network Firewall

Do not fall victim to the misconception that, because you’re a small startup, you aren’t a target for cyber crime. 50 percent of small businesses have been targeted by cyber vigilantes, which clearly indicates they need just as much protection as anyone else.

Network firewalls are software programs or hardware that protect your business data by controlling incoming and outgoing traffic between your internal network (computers) and the outside world. A major mistake start-ups will make is using a residential network firewall to protect their business. Especially if their business operates in a particularly regulated industry. Go with a business-class network firewall instead, and be sure to invest in one that will see you through foreseeable growth.

Remember — when you’re first starting out, every investment counts. Make start-up decisions based on where you are today, and where you plan to be in five years. Technology changes fast — so don’t lock yourself into anything that will be outdated within a year.

Seeking advice from a virtual CIO will help you make the best business decisions for your budget and resources that address your wants and needs today while considering how those needs will change over time.