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Complete UK Small Business IT Guide

In our ultimate UK small business IT guide we go through all the things you will need to know about. Questions you will need to ask your IT provider, and questions your IT provider will ask you. We have created this guide from our experiences with clients around the UK, over the years. Along with a range of other areas of your business, making sure that you have great IT support is vital. Our IT guide has advice from our expert team on how to get the best IT solutions for your business needs and budget.

Guide Contents:

Let’s begin!

Have a cup of tea and get comfortable. This IT guide includes everything. You may even want to bookmark it for future reference!.

UK BUSINESS FACTS AND STATS

Some of the latest stats about UK SME's

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Small Business IT Needs

From fixing your laptop to cabling your office. Small businesses need a range of IT services and solutions to function on a day-to-day basis. This applies whether you are a micro-business, with up to 10 staff, a small business, with up to 50 staff, or a medium size business with up to 250 staff.

95 percent – or around 5.7 million – of the UK’s private sector companies are SoHo (Single/Small office, Home office) SMEs with under 10 employees, according to research. The rise of business start-ups, digital shopkeepers and freelancers, (as well as remote working) means that an increasing number of people are running their business from home.

From general IT support and security to servers, maintenance and updates to POS systems, networks and software. Your business needs a unique IT plan to run smoothly without being worried about disaster.
Lack of technical knowledge and not having proactive IT support and solutions can make or break your business.

If you are an existing business, are your IT systems performing as they should be? Are you sure that your IT security is robust? What about backups?

Determining Your Small Business IT Needs Is The First Step In Your Plan.

This will help in the process and procedures when it comes to planning your business IT strategy as a whole.

Small business, new start-ups or growing businesses need different IT requirements compared to a large corporation. The technology you will need in place need to keep your small business running smoothly, are all unique. Research what you need so you can find cost-effective tools and select the right technology for your business.

As well as, setting up your website, server and data management and communications, IT security and compliance need to be at the foundation of your plan.

The main thing is to know, is which technology to use, and then determine whether you have the resources to set it up and maintain and manage it.

Outline And Prioritise Your Goals

While you may be trying to get on with running your business, there are a host of IT tasks that take up most of your attention.

Whether you are buying IT equipment or using software and online tools. You need to ask yourself;

Does it solve one or more problems and meet my business objectives? Will it integrate with my existing systems? If you are an existing business, are your IT systems performing as they should be? Are you sure that your IT security is robust? What about Backups? Are they working?

If you’re unsure about carrying out an assessment yourself, employ an IT expert to do this for you.

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Important Questions

• Are you setting up a new office?

• How many workstations and or devices do you have?

• How many staff/users will/do you have?

• Do you / will you have remote staff?

• Will you need your own server?

• What kind of data will you/ are you handling?

• Do you need website development?

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Setting Your Small Business IT Budget

Understanding why the need for spend in this area is helpful. Many small businesses turn their full attention to IT when there is a problem. Inevitably it will happen. So it is better to be fully prepared. Plan and allocate your budget from the start.

Back in the day, when you started a new business, all you needed was a good idea, a budget and office space. Your equipment would consist of a couple of computers, phone and a printer. It was usually the photocopier that was the main piece of equipment that was always being fixed!

Today, IT encompasses almost everything in your office. From your website, computers, files, tools, calls, meetings, new contracts… Most of these are based on the cloud or your computer connected to the internet.

This includes Hosted Desktop, File Sharing and Storage, Hosted Apps, Remote Access VPN, Office 365, Assured Access.

But keeping up with hardware, software updates and licences as well as the integration of equipment and security, can be overwhelming and a headache to administer and maintain.

This Is Where Having Great IT Support Comes In

Allocating an IT budget can make the difference between having a strong reputation among your clients, with a reliable platform and secure procedures; to being the victim of cyber-attacks and damaging your brand reputation, which is usually costly.

So allocating your budget for IT equipment, maintenance and security, is key.

On average if you have managed IT Services you should expect to pay between £100 to £350 per server, £10 to £50 per desktop, and approximately £10 per smartphone or mobile device.

Properly Configured, From The Start

Having a great IT setup in your office or on-site can translate into increased productiveness. This means that all your hardware and software is up to date and networks are connected properly.

Getting the right set up, in the beginning, will save you extra costs in the future. IT providers may be more expensive when they have to fix an issue that could be preventable in the first place.

Save yourself the hassle and costs in the future. Have a professional set-up from the start. Nobody wants to have to rip out any existing cabling and start from scratch.

So, if you are a new business setting up a new office or you are moving to a new office, it is the perfect opportunity to start with a fast and future-proof IT environment.

Depending on how many computers or devices you will use, you can determine whether or not you need an onsite server or a private server, or whether cloud solutions are best.

On the other hand, if you are a new business or are about to move to a new office without telecoms, then VoIP is probably a great solution for your communication.

Everything will depend on your needs, but setting a strong IT base, approved by an IT team, from the beginning will save you from a lot of headaches in the future.

Servers And Data In Your Office

Servers provide fast access to shared files, which many businesses need to do, in addition to a safe space to store data.

Deciding whether you need a server for your business, will depend on the amount and type of data you need to manage. There are virtual servers and physical servers, and choosing the right one depends on your requirements and budget.

For example:

An accountancy firm needs to share access to an application (Sage or QuickBooks) to two or more PCs. Most of these companies will need a server to avoid slow programs. Also, they may need a physical server so the data will be safer in the office.

Media agencies, on the other hand, will need to have a cloud solution to store data. These options are reliable and also make it easy to share large media-heavy files with collaborators and clients.

Read our Server Guide

SERVER GUIDE

Implementing office Wi-Fi

Getting good Wifi in your office or business location is all about good WiFi Design. It is really important to get it right from the start. You need to make sure you have this planned out as well in order to be successful.

Key things you need to decide

When you are planning your business WiFi and assessing your office space you need to ask yourself the following questions.

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Who is going to be in charge of designing your wireless network?

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Who will be Installing and configuring your network?

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Who is going to be managing and monitoring the Performance of Your Network?

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Will you need a third-party provider who will perform assessments and site surveys?

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Do you have someone to run the cabling, place access points correctly, configure the channels, and power levels?

Do You Have An Internal IT Team That Can Manage This Task?

If you’re not able to do your own Wifi configuration and design, then you will need to hire an IT expert to carry out the task.

Managed WiFi Solutions give you a reliable WiFi connection in your office. This means a strong connection all the time while being in a secure network where your data is safe.

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WiFi Questions

• Will you get a WiFi site survey, WiFi analysis?

• Does your managed WiFi solutions provider use industry-leading WiFi hardware?

• Do they include network access control (NAC)?

• Do they offer performance monitoring?

• Do they provide regular network health reports?

• Can you have a custom WiFi design, design specifically for your needs?

• What about support services for firewalls, and access points?

• Do they schedule network refreshes?

• Do they include robust SLAs?

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Securing Guest WiFi for your business

Many businesses need to have Guest Wifi. Particularly in the hospitality industry. Cafes, restaurants, hotels and even gyms, are all places customers expect to be able to log on to Guest Wifi.

So to keep your network secure enough for you and your clients, you have to consider investing in a Managed WiFi Solution.

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IT Security Is A Big Deal

So much so that we have dedicated a full guide exclusively to it. Cyberattacks, email phishing, data breaches are an all too common occurrence.

All businesses need to keep an eye on their network and data security, especially for regulated industries including insurance and finance companies.

Cybersecurity investment must be a key part of the business budget.

UK businesses are attacked every day. And 60% can’t recover after an attack. So yes, investing in IT security is really important.

In the past, most businesses would take measures to secure their IT equipment and systems based around an office IT setup only. But today, home IT setups are installed by people with little or no IT expertise.

Remote working is a target for hackers trying to exploit the growing use of technology. So, if you have staff working from home, it is essential to maintain rigorous security standards and procedures.

A BYOD policy needs to be in place to secure your business data at all times.

BYOD which means “bring your own device,” sometimes called BYOT (bring your own technology) or BYOP (bring your own phone), and BYOPC (bring your own personal computer). Allowing employees to use their own devices, including personal laptops, smartphones and tablets in the workplace is increasing. While the use of mobile devices and cloud services offers many advantages, it can also lead to serious security issues.

Staff Devices

Make sure that your staff can use their personal mobile devices securely when accessing your company networks. In addition to ensuring the company’s obligations under the Data Protection Act, 1998 have been met.

BYOD policy

Successful BYOD policies must to be approved by an IT team. A professional that sets the rules and a secure parameter where the devices can work without harming your network, or accessing vital information.

If You Think You Need BYOD Solutions

CLICK HERE

Staying GDPR Compliant

With more and more businesses experiencing costly data breaches making sure that your data protection strategy is robust is essential. Since May 2018 when the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) can into effect in the UK.

Businesses, particularly those in regulated industries like insurance, are facing increased regulation.

Professional data encryption and cloud data security are vital for GDPR compliance.

Useful Small Business Resources

The BT Small Business Support Scheme launched the new SoHo unit, part of BT’s Enterprise division, in July 2021. It offers a suite of digital products and services designed specifically for micro-businesses.

Looking at stronger cyber security measures, offering free digital skills training as well as new digital advertising tools.

Moving To The Cloud

As you grow your small business, the needs and requirements gradually change. One important decision you will have to make at some point is “Do I really need to move to the Cloud?”. You can read our full business guide to the Cloud.

In our experience at HelpDesk Heroes, we find that a company usually decides to move to the cloud when the team becomes geographically more diverse or they start working from home more frequently.

If your small business needs to allow new members of staff access to company data, in the office or remotely, using Cloud solutions will help achieve this faster and more securely.

The need to quickly access, collaborate, share documents and other files, is the main reason most small businesses turn to the Cloud.

Business owners need to work more closely with the IT team and develop an inclusive business strategy when adopting a Cloud solution.

In some industries, where data is extremely sensitive, it’s not allowed to be hosted in the Cloud. Financial and legal sectors may encounter this issue, especially where other countries could potentially access your data held on overseas hosted servers.

Build your own private Cloud to a bespoke specification that will meet the needs of your business or take advantage of a managed Cloud solution. We can help find the best connectivity option for your office and create a secure VPN bridge between your office and the Cloud.

Online Business

Most businesses today have some kind of online presence. As a small business, whether you are just starting out or you have an existing online shop. Having a great website that is optimised and delivers strong results is vital.

Having a budget for your website and maintenance will help you to increase your online presence, helping customers access your services. Read our post on How much does a website really cost.

If you have an Ecommerce website (yes we also have an Ecommerce guide too!) then you will need to make sure that your website design is responsive and user friendly and your SEO is effective.

Stay Mobile And Run Your Business On The Go

Traditional office phone systems only allow you to listen to voicemails when tethered to your desk,

Access your office from your smartphone, wherever you are. A cloud-based phone system, allows you to streamline your business communications using the wide range of features.



For example users can choose which calls to forward from office phone to your mobile, so you to take your office phone on the go.

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Data Protection For Your Small Business

Your small business must have secure and reliable storage options. It doesn’t matter what kind of business you have, your data must be managed and stored in a safe place. External hard drives, Solid state drives USB and flashdrives, optical drives, servers, cloud. There are several options to store your information, and these may vary according to your needs and budget.

For example, media companies usually need lots of storage as they are working with heavy media files. Given the collaborative nature of the industry, these files also need to be easily accessed and by multiple users.

An accountancy firm with a low budget may consider saving their information using DVDs, this could be a simple yet effective way to storage data, but in the end it could be not practical.

Alternatively, a legal firm can use a NAS to save tons of data in their office in an efficient way.

Managing all your IT tasks

Keeping up with the latest technology can be a full-time job. The hardware needed, including workstations, devices and servers, are ever evolving. Software applications will need regular updates. In addition as you get the latest software, the hardware that it uses must also be compatible, or the software won’t operate properly.

If you are tech savvy and can manage most of it but don’t always have the time then a flexible, pay as you go option would work the best.

Should I just hire a full-time IT manager?

In most cases, it is not cost-effective for companies with under 50 employees to hire a full-time IT person. Outsourcing can be more flexible and cost-effective.

What about the weekends – and the middle of the night?

If you have an in-house IT department they are not going to be available in the office 24 hours a day. When you outsource your IT support you have access to full professional support 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. You can be assured that any issues will be attended to immediately.

Outsourcing Your IT Can Be A Better Option

Outsourcing your IT department is great because you can still get the assistance you and your employees need, without having to spend the money on a full-time IT personnel. You also benefit from the collective knowledge of the whole team.

If it is not feasible to hire a permanent IT manager then you will need to Outsource your IT for your Small Business.

There are two options.

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PAY AS YOU GO

Most IT services companies offering Pay-as-you-go IT support and services will charge an hourly fee.

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MANAGED IT SERVICES

Most managed IT service providers will quote you a MONTHLY fee based on the number of devices they need to maintain, back up, and support.

Which One Is Right For Your Business?

Depending on your business requirements Pay-As-You-Go is ideal for small businesses who need ad hoc IT fixes.

However Managed IT solutions can become more cost-effective over time, with ongoing maintenance and an ever-growing need for more IT requirements.

Once you have decided which type of service you need…..

Our IT solutions for small business

We work closely with our clients to create a unique business strategy. Reviewing costs and resources, working proactively at all times.

Taking care of your business, all your networks are installed, monitored and maintained by professionals.

We take an in depth look at your business , and where challenges lie. The insights gained from our onboarding process, allow us to deliver a perfectly aligned strategic solution.

We are vendor neutral and work with leading technology to deliver bespoke solutions for each client.

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Our Happy Clients

We work hard to make sure all our clients are happy.
Using our IT services for small business, they don't have to think about their IT, because we do.

"We have been very impressed by the professionalism of HelpDesk Heroes and their dedication to our company. Upon purchasing their services, we were presented with a plan tailored to our structure and needs which includes an overseas office. To this day, HelpDesk Heroes has never let us down and, despite our constantly changing needs, we feel supported and cared for by our dedicated HelpDesk Heroes team, especially Josh and Jackye."

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Cindy Richards

Rylan Peters & Small Publishing

"Having been happily looked after by one of HelpDesk Heroes’ founders Jackye for over ten years, it only made sense to follow when we heard the news of their new company – we wouldn’t go anywhere else! I would gladly recommend their IT support services. They are extremely flexible with our team, our enquiries and always respond in no time if we do have an urgent problem. They understand our core needs almost as if they are a part of the team itself so continue to improve and enhance the way we work and function. It has been refreshing to have the IT support and solutions thought about overall and not just ‘patched’ when things have gone wrong."

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Gulsen Yanik

Big Al’s Creative Emporium Advertising Agency