Gone are the days when you needed to spend thousands of pounds on the most basic hardware and software just to have the bare bones to start a business that didn’t rely on just a pen and a pad.
Only a few years ago, many budding entrepreneurs would have shelved out on an Exchange server and accompanying licences so they could have group, domain-led email and a few other bits & pieces. You would have needed to spend quite a hefty monthly sum to have a decent enough Internet connection. I still sometimes see businesses using ISDN lines! Why would anyone bother? Close that line down already and move on….the rest of the world has.
Google Apps for Business is all new startups need these days. Follow a few basic steps and within literally 15 minutes you can have a fully functioning web-based email system which can run emails on your own domain. When you’re starting up, you only need the basic version which is completely free. Unless you decide to suddenly add more than 49 other staff members to your business who also need their own email account, its a safe bet to say you’ll only be needing the free version for quite some time.
The freemium model for Internet-based services is fantastic for new businesses as it keeps costs down at those all-important few months. Google Apps (email, analytics, online advertising, etc.) Dropbox (online backup & file synchronisation), Skype (communication), Twitter (communication & marketing) are tools I could not run my business without these days.
There are also those small tools that keep your computers working to the best of their ability. Again, gone are the days when you’d have to spend a small fortune on decent anti-virus software that may have kept your machines safe, but also made boot-up time seem like an extended lunch break. Take your pick from Avast or AVG, both top-rated anti-virus solutions and both completely free for the basic versions (which do a very good job).
Starting a business is still tough – I don’t want to give the impression that its a walk in the park but the truth is that with today’s technology and advances in web-based services, a startup can compete much better with bigger competitors. Suddenly Goliath doesn’t seem as big as he used to be.