Decide If You Can Set Up Your Own Small Business Network
SMBs often wrestle with whether they should save money by setting up their own small business networks without the help of IT experts who specialize in network support services. The decision is complicated. Some tech-savvy SMB owners have set up their own networks in the past. However, it’s a new world as cyber crimes are at an all-time high as the newly expanded remote workforce has vastly broadened the cyberattack landscape. In addition, many new connected devices such as cell phones, tablets and a vast array of smart devices have made cyber security more complicated than ever. Even the best, off-the-shelf anti-virus program cannot provide the layers of security required to protect your business data. Therefore, before going it alone and abandoning the idea of using IT services for small businesses to help you set up your network, there are important things to consider. IT technology has shaped our modern way of doing business. A strong computer network is the supporting infrastructure responsible for helping so many business functions run more smoothly, efficiently and economically. If you don’t design your network correctly and securely, you could jeopardize your entire business. After reading this blog, you might decide it’s worth your while to hire IT professionals.
Small Business Network Setup Checklist
Setting up a small business computer network is different from setting up a system at home. First, there are some devices you will need:
- Modem (becoming obsolete)
Routers and Modems
Before starting setup, you should decide on an Internet Service Provider or ISP. They will provide the internet connection to your network.
The first key components of your small business network are the router and modem. The router is the hardware that transmits and receives data from the internet. The cable modem assists in transferring data between your devices and the internet. However, fiber-optic internet connections are making modems obsolete as fiber optics support a much higher bandwidth of connections. So at this time, there is a chance that you will not require a modem for your business network, depending on your IP provider.
- Before selecting your new router, you must assess the number of devices you expect on your network. Take an inventory of all your desktop computers, laptops, smartphones, printers, tablets, etc. Some businesses might use industry-specific POS systems or other platforms, particular to their work. All connected devices are part of the network architecture equation.
- Note: If you plan to connect more than 20 devices, you should consider investing in commercial-grade WiFi hardware. The relatively small investment will make a big difference in the performance and security of your network.
- Firewalls are a required layer of protection for your business data and require careful attention when building your network. Although some devices come with built-in firewalls, the current cybercrime atmosphere might require that you add a dedicated hardware firewall. For example, many commercial-grade routers will come with one. However, you are putting your SMB at risk without one, as all of your devices will be more vulnerable to cyberattacks. Also, many firewalls have additional protective features such as Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and remote access.
- Switches are network devices that enable your devices to communicate with each other and share data. There are Managed Switches and Unmanaged Switches. Unmanaged switches are less costly and don’t require configuration. However, Managed switches are more robust and have many desirable features for a business network. As a result, configuration and setup are significantly more complicated and require employing professional IT consulting services to ensure proper installation.
- Network Security – More than 60% of SMBs go out of business within six months of being hit by a cyberattack. Therefore, network cyber security should not be taken lightly. Every device that is connected to your network can be used as an access point through which hackers can gain access to your entire network infrastructure. Therefore, it is crucial that your network has many layers of cyber protections in place.
- Scalability – In building your SMB computer network, it is important to plan for growth. No one starts a company without a vision for building that business. Therefore, it is essential to build a network that allows for scalability as your SMB grows.
So, Should You Set Up Your Own Small Business Computer Network? Probably Not.
As one can easily see, planning and building a small business network is not a simple task. There are many functionality, security and cost considerations to address. Unfortunately, most small to midsized businesses have neither the time nor the expertise to build their own computer network. In addition, many of the important details are often overlooked by business owners who might not realize factors in play. IT professionals understand that many SMBs don’t know or comprehend all the costs and security issues related to building a network, software installation, system updates, adding mobile devices and other IT functions. It is therefore prudent for SMB owners to enlist professional IT consulting services. The IT experts can also ensure that you maintain software compatibility, security protections across your network and other protocols to safeguard your hard-earned data systemwide.
Once installed, computers and all networked devices must be regularly monitored and maintained. Up-to-date system and software updates, established security protocols and defenses must also be in place at all times. With the expanded use of remote and work-from-home employees, having a team of IT experts to support your systems is essential for building the right computer network for the smooth operation of your business. An IT support team can plan and install your system, train your staff, update your software, inspect and monitor your hardware and provide iron-clad cyber security for all your devices and networks.
GEEK-AID® Computer and Network Support specializes in customized computer network installation, maintenance and repair for small to midsized businesses. GEEK-AID®'s team of experts is comprised of top specialists in different areas of IT services, serving clients onsite and remotely for Macs, PCs and all your connected devices. When your system is down, they will perform onsite computer repairs. And the GEEK-AID® team doesn't clock out at five o'clock on Friday. They are available to you 24/7, remotely or in person, to ensure your computers, network and data stay healthy and secure. As your business grows, expands its network and adds more devices such as smart controls, smart devices, wireless access and remote access, your network's cybercrime vulnerability and need for cyber security will grow, too. In addition to maintaining the hardware, software and security, employee training and regular IT support must be ongoing. New users and new devices will require additional training to use those devices efficiently. Hardware and software installation and maintenance, repair, cyber security and network protection are all related and must be consistent and proactive to best support the seamless operation of your company.
Call (877) GEEK-AID (877-433-5243) to help you plan, build and maintain a secure and fully functional small to midsized business computer network.