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A small business internet approach – the differing demands of the business spectrum

Getting a broadband deal that is tailored to your needs can be really simple. Here's how to approach internet deals as a small business.
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Most businesses these days rely on internet, yet no two businesses are alike. How do you pin down what your specific small business internet requirements are?

Different businesses need different things, but one thing most businesses will have in common is the need for a reliable internet connection.

It’s something so intrinsic to our working lives, we almost take it for granted – until, that is, we lose service. Suddenly we release how little we can get done – we can’t email, we can’t use the cloud to access files and data, we can’t use any online tools or Google.

Of course, the extent to which businesses rely on the internet will vary – some may be based entirely online, while others may use it simply to sell its wares further afield. No two businesses are alike, and that’s why when it comes to choosing your internet package there are a variety of factors to consider to make sure you get the best deal tailored for your specific set of needs.

Small business internet: What kind of contract do you need?

Perhaps the first thing you will consider is what kind of contract you need – residential or business internet? If you work from home, you may be inclined to go for the residential internet as it often comes with a cheaper price tag.

“If you want to put the broadband through the company accounts, then a business broadband is the only option for you,” says William Goodall, acquisition manager at Virgin Media Business.

“Our business broadband also has a higher bandwidth than the residential side, so if that’s key then business broadband might also be the best option.”

The added customer service levels and increased security alone make it worth considering – it’s definitely bad for business if you leak customer data. In addition, providers will often prioritise business internet customers, which is a great perk.

Depending on where you’re at in your business – for example, if you are fairly well established with a staff of about 50 or more employees – you may look to consider Managed Internet Access (MIA).

Sometimes referred to as leased lines, MIA essentially means you have a line that’s dedicated to you and uncontended; you don’t have to share bandwidth with anyone else. It means fast speeds, so it’s perfect for businesses uploading and downloading lots of large files.

It’s more expensive, but with faster speeds, greater reliability and enhanced customer service, it could be worth the price if your business is at a certain stage.

Small business internet: Nailing the basics

Once you’ve decided what kind of contract to go for, the next thing you look at should be speed and price of service.

There are some providers out there that offer significantly faster speeds which are worth paying for.

When a provider tells you what speed they offer, keep in mind that’s often the maximum speed, and the actual service can dip below; always check the minimum speeds offered.

And while you absolutely need to think about what your business can afford to pay, it’s wise not to cut corners in case you end up losing money due down the line.

Small business internet: Building your reputation

Something else to look at is whether you need a static or a dynamic IP address. An IP address is a number your provider uses to identify your device and your connection, but this number changes every time you log on if you have a dynamic IP address.

A static IP address is great for businesses, because it means you can host your own server. This allows you to have more control over your email and create a company specific address, and even host your own website. This can make your business seem professional and more established, all of which is good news for your reputation.

“A micro business would absolutely be able to get by with residential broadband, however without a static IP they might struggle to make full use of the connection, and they would be unable to put the connection through the company accounts, making the business accounting more difficult,” explained Goodall.

This might not be something you are ready to do yet, but a year or so down the line maybe you’ll want to run your website in-house, who knows? It’s worth keeping scalability in mind, regardless of where you’re at right now.

Wherever you sit on the business spectrum, there are benefits out there that could help you scale up and expand your horizons beyond the basic internet offering. Weigh up where your priorities are, do your due diligence, and make the deal that is right for you.

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About Author

Letitia Booty

Letitia Booty is a special projects journalist for Real Business. She has a BA in english literature from the University of East Anglia, and since graduating she has written for a variety of trade titles. Most recently, she was a reporter at SME magazine.

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