While technology is in a constant state of change, there are a few things that are guaranteed to stay the same for the time being within the world of Entrepreneurial business. That said, sometimes the basics are forgotten, so I created this checklist for startup owners to remind all of the things you should get out of the way if you haven’t already.
1. Protect your Servers
Why: In an article by the New York Times released this last January, Clay Calvert of MetroStar Systems in Virginia was quoted as saying “smaller companies are easier to hack. They don’t have the resources to set up protective barriers.” Doing everything you can to protect your servers and your information, as well as backing all of it up (see below), will keep your finances, your advancements, you internal decisions, your bank information – all yours. It protects against those who leak that information or use it to take your money or ruin your business. No need to start from scratch, protect yourself today!
2. Be knowledgeable of apps
Why: Where I work, we use Slack to communicate across the floor. A music site I also am starting to write for also uses that program. I’ve used apps such as Fat Rank for SEO purposes. Adblock is excellent for work servers as well. BCC Me (for Gmail) is excellent for helping keep track of email conversations, but you need to be aware of whether or not it’s on, as it may include you in conversations you don’t want to be a part of. Ultimately, these are just examples – a lot of it depends on the industry you’re in.
3. Get Official Social Media Pages Up and Running!
Why: According to a Marketing Land survey from October 2015, ninety percent of young Americans use Social Media and nearly two thirds of all Americans use Social Media. And some predict there will be 33 million Facebook users in the UK by 2018. Through user-friendly sites like Twitter and Facebook, companies often are able to connect with their customers directly or indirectly through comments, posting statuses, and videos. In a lot of ways, social media means free promotion. However, always be careful of what you say, because unwise use of social media has broken careers before, and can be used to incriminate you.
4. Google Analytics
Why: Google Analytics, if you’re not aware, is a service from Google that helps you monitor your website traffic. This is very important, because it is an indicator of how well your marketing campaigns, your social media personnel, and your products are working – essentially, your consistent online traffic is a good measure of how successful you are becoming. I would encourage you to use it – or something like it – to see how much people on the internet seem to be interested in what you’re doing.
5. Computer-Use Guidelines
Why: Nobody should be able to say “you didn’t tell me…” in the case of misusing company time and resources. Guidelines will separate the best employees from those who don’t take their job seriously enough to respect you or make you money. Laying the law down doesn’t mean you have to be strict. I can still log into social media and use things like Spotify at my job. But guidelines do make it easier to stay focused. If done right, it will make employees feel more trusted than micromanaged.
6. Employee Email Addresses
Why: Frankly, this just looks more professional. I have seen clients at my place of employment have a harder time with their marketing and their business being taken seriously due to vague email addresses. Even if it’s something similar to “firstname.lastname@example.org,” that looks a lot better than “email@example.com” or even “firstname.lastname@example.org.” It costs more money but the best option is having a domain name e-mail address, such as “employeename” or “email@example.com”.
7. File Organization
Why: As someone who works a desk job, knowing where to find things is, you know, helpful! Google Drive is a great way to do this if everyone is working remotely. Dropbox is another great tool assuming you don’t have a floor/company-wide network. If you do, make sure people know where each necessarily accessible file goes. Google Drive is still a fantastic way to collectively collaborate on projects as well, especially in the form of a Microsoft Office Document.
8. Backup your data!
Why: In the case of network problems or computer crashes, data backups are extremely necessary. In addition, having records of past work – successes and failures – will help to prepare for the future? Furthermore, if your company is ever audited, you must be sure you have records of your spending. It is also smart to be encrypting your backups as well, and as the BackUp Assist blog writes, “If you’re a company like Sony [who was the victim of a major hack in 2014] you can probably weather the storm, but for most small to medium businesses this kind of breach could easily turn off your lights.” Thus, making all of your data, including backups, un-accessible as possible to the wrong people is incredibly wise.
Related: How Managed Dedicated Servers Support Startups
9. Web Store and Website User-Friendly
Why: A lot of people’s shopping and shopper research is done online nowadays, and you absolutely want them to learn about your products as easily as possible. Websites are important because they represent your company to people offsite. If somebody finds all of the information they need through your website, and it is easy for them to do so, I would assume they are more likely to make a quick decision on a buy, rather than on the product of which they have to spend more time to figure out. Give them what they need to know with minimum work on their part, and make sure they can get it from their home, and if not, make sure they know where they CAN get it most easily.
Related: Top Resources for Getting Started with Drupal 8
Related: How to Protect a WordPress Site from Hackers
10. Keep an Eye Out!
Why: Always be aware of changes among your industry and new apps or programs that might increase your productivity as well as your sales and reach! Subscribe to tech news sites within your niche. Speak to experts on software who have been in your industry longer than you. Essentially, do what you need to to be aware of new opportunities and way to improve your business. Success means always changing, and while the age old saying of “don’t fix what isn’t broken” may be true in some cases, if you have a chance to make things better, why not try something out? Of course, before making commitments to a change, it may be good to see if other people have tried and what their success and fail stories were.
Did I miss something? Let me know at Twitter @robolitious – I’d love to hear from you!