Thanks to the current financial climate there are more start-ups than ever before.
Everyone who does start a new business is out to promote their products or services, but they have also become a procurer. Of course there are some products that are commodities, electricity is electricity and the most important purchasing consideration is price. Other items are differentiated by things like performance or service quality; an advert, for example, is not just an advert.
When starting your enterprise you have to consider how you are going to let customers know you’re out there and understand how to connect with them. That means communications and this is an area where a little thought and planning could save you a lot of time and money in the longer term, enabling you to concentrate on the main event – your business.
There are plenty of providers out there offering all sorts of wonderful products and packages, but how do you know where your fledging empire will be in 6 months, or a year?
By communications, I mean telephony and IT, an area that has seen huge opportunities develop over the past year or so, especially for start-ups. Organisations of any size can now access technologies that were previously only available to enterprises with the resources to deploy expensive servers and applications. Now cloud technologies make these products feasible at low or no capital costs.
The problem for a start-up is getting an understanding of what’s possible, what’s needed right now and what might be required further down the line. Deciding what to get and who to get it from is part of the process and a good provider should help with every stage.
I suggest the restaurant approach.
Sometimes when you go out to eat you don’t want the full set menu. Maybe you only want 2 courses, or two starters instead of a main. For that you have to put aside the set menu and go for the a la carte option instead.
The forward thinking provider, who has understood the opportunities, will offer you the chance to buy what you need now, but add, alter and integrate additional products when you’re ready.
So talk to potential providers, explain what you’re going to be doing and how you’re going to work. Maybe you need a basic broadband and mobile to get going today, but as you grow you’ll employ office staff needing office phones. You may want to use a hosted, pay monthly per user, Exchange Server using your own domain for e-mail, and wouldn’t it be fantastic if your mobile could integrate with all these features?
Don’t get lulled into long term fixed bundle deals with a telecoms provider that won’t let you vary your commitment – flexibility is the name of your game and it should be for your comms provider too.
As a telecoms provider, I’m always happy to spend time helping little acorns develop a comms strategy that is right for them – it’s an approach that has produced some mighty oak customers for us.
Duncan Laker is the MD of Welcome Telecom – a business telecommunications company supplying Business Phone Lines, IP telephony & Cloud Computing Services.