When you think about the essentials you absolutely need to run your business successfully, you might put money, employees, and marketing on your list. But Internet? Probably not. Still, it’s an essential component for pretty much every business on the planet. Gone are the days of dialup, but reliability and speed are still essential to help your business thrive.
Here are three aspects of your business that require fast and efficient Internet service.
1. Cloud Apps
Remember plugging in a CD-ROM to download the latest software program? No more, today you can install software or an app with the click of a button. Rather than hosting the software on your computer, you can use cloud-based software that is hosted elsewhere. That means you take up less space on your computer with “heavy” data, and you can access your accounts from multiple devices, including your desktop, laptop, tablet, or mobile phone.
There’s a cloud-based app for just about any aspect of your business: CRM, project management, time tracking, accounting, and email marketing are just a few examples.
Again, having fast and reliable Internet is essential for you to leverage your cloud apps. Some apps may allow you to access limited information without an Internet connection, but most will require one.
2. VoIP Communication
The fact that landline phone use is down while mobile and Voice Over IP (VoIP) calling is on the rise is a testament to the fact that technology plays a major role in how we make phone calls. VoIP is a popular option for many businesses because of its low (or no) price and its ability to host video calls.
There are two primary categories for VoIP communication: one is screen-based, where you access an app or site like Skype or Google Hangouts to make calls, and the other is phone-based, where traditional-style desk phones use Internet service rather than telephone lines to relay your communications.
Both require reliability. There’s nothing worse than being on a Skype video call with a client and having your screen freeze, or getting disconnected. Sometimes connectivity issues can’t be helped, due to bad weather or many people accessing the same bandwidth simultaneously, but upgrading to a faster Internet package with your provider can ensure that you don’t have these hiccups.
There are many options to choose from. The quality will depend on your internet connection but also the provider’s size and their service. VoIP providers smaller in size may be more prone to issues than larger ones that service multiple businesses. With this said, the way that they handle calls may affect the overall quality as well.
But how can you determine how much Internet power do you need? Testing your speeds will allow you to see if your current internet can support VoIP communication. Based off your bandwidth, you’ll be able to determine how many phone lines your connection can handle.
You might feel pretty good about the service and speed of your company’s Internet capabilities, but that likely will change down the road. By 2020, 1.7 megabytes of new information will be created every second for every person on the planet. Our Internet use will rise accordingly.
In a year, you’ll need twice as much bandwidth as you need right now. This is something to take into consideration when signing up for Internet service. While you don’t want to be fear-mongered into subscribing to more bandwidth than you currently need now, you also don’t want to get locked into a set amount and not be able to easily scale up as need dictates.
Tips for Getting Enough Speed for Your Needs
For your home Internet, you probably picked the most basic Internet package available, or what was on sale. For your business, you’ll need to do a bit more research to ensure you match your selection to your needs.
First, know your options. You now can choose from cable, DSL, or fiber Internet service, depending on whether each is available in your location. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks, as well as speed capabilities and pricing.
Consider your needs. Do you just need the Internet to check email and update your website yourself, or do you have a team of 15 programmers who will live and breathe on the ‘Net 40+ hours a week? Does your point-of-sale system rely on Internet? Are VoIP calls a priority? Do you regularly stream videos for your work? Answering these questions can help you determine if your business needs are light, moderate, or heavy, and you can shop for a package accordingly.
Now dig into the Internet Service Providers (ISP). What sort of support do they offer businesses? Do they have a dedicated help line separate from their residential line, which puts people on hold for an hour? What setup fees are involved? Are there any specials for first-time customers? How easy is it to upgrade or downgrade service? You want an ISP partner that will treat you like its #1 customer and always be available to answer questions or deal with technical issues.
It’s a good idea to keep your eye open for new services and offerings with your ISP, as you may find that prices come down for Internet service over time. They won’t be the ones to tell you that you’re paying too much, so check in once in awhile to make sure you’re getting the best pricing.
Internet is something we all rely on to run our businesses. Make sure yours isn’t preventing you from being as productive and successful as you can be.