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We’re here to make IT work

Five most common IT mistakes that start-ups make

Common IT mistakes that start-up businesses make can end up costing a lot of money a few years down the line. Richard Hughes, Director of Cambridge managed service provider IT For Starters, explains which mistakes will hit your pocket the worst and how to avoid them.

Office 365 licensing bundles

Get this wrong at the launch of your business and you will have endless trouble. We often find that a start-up has bought the domain name for their website from a company along with a bundle that includes Office 365 licencing. This probably seemed a good idea at the time but usually they get a poor price and, worst of all, it can be very difficult and expensive to scale up the number of users when their company expands. Tech start-ups naturally begin with just a handful of people, but once they receive funding and start becoming successful, they need to grow. We have had some clients who needed to break away from their initial subscription, because it was too difficult to add additional subscriptions, and start a new one. But that meant down time in the office whilst we moved the services over.

We always advise our clients to buy directly from Microsoft or Google, without a middle man, which is much cheaper. Many IT service providers make money from re-selling these products to their clients, but we don't do that.

Cheap hardware that isn't business suitable

If you’re starting up a business, don’t head to a high street store and buy the cheapest laptop available. It will only last a year because it won’t be able to withstand everyday use and dealing with lots of data. Buy cheap hardware and you will spend ages waiting for things to load and for functions to work – you will lose vital office time being frustrated by a rubbish laptop. We have had to upgrade computers for clients with new solid state disks just so they can continue to work. IT For Starters will always insist on a minimum spec for computers plus a three year guarantee that means they will be replaced the next day if necessary. Again, we can source these for clients and don’t make any margin on them.

Backups, backups, backups

Lots of people forget to back up their data correctly – it will cause you a massive problem if you lose that data, and prevention is much cheaper than cure. We know of a company who had to spend £10,000 recovering their lost data. Instead, make sure you at least have a USB hard drive or an online back up. We back up all of our clients’ data on an EU cloud based server, so they never have to worry.

Failing to install security – antivirus, encryption and firewall software

The viruses that hit many people earlier in the year, including the NHS, could have been stopped with better security. None of our clients were affected because we recommend endpoint protection by Sophos, which is very effective. If a start-up doesn’t get the right anti-virus and anti-malware products at the beginning, their data could become vulnerable. We work with a lot of biotech start-ups and it’s vital for many of them to get their data encrypted to a high standard, which we can do. But anyone with Windows 10 can encrypt data on their laptop for free and in a few simple steps, so the data cannot be accessed if it is stolen.

Picking the wrong the IT provider

We mainly work with biotech start-ups, as that is the background of both of IT For Starters’ directors. They have very specific needs that not every managed service provider will understand. We don’t force one solution on our clients – we listen to their requirements and create a bespoke solution. We hear about a lot of initially small businesses who have been persuaded to buy their own email server. That is absolutely not necessary and is expensive as well as hard for them to manage. But for other start-ups with large data needs we have suggested they buy a server and then distil it for cloud storage or sharing with third parties. Everyone’s needs are different so don’t buy a solution off the peg.

We offer tailored IT support in Cambridge, Swavesey, St Ives, Ely and Newmarket. To find out more about how we can help you, call us on 08450 702 226 or send us an enquiry.

IT for Starters are a great team to work with – they’ve supported Horizon’s internal team seamlessly.

Dr Chris Lowe, Head of Research Operations, Horizon Discovery

IT for Starters offer everything that we, as a start-up business, need from an IT consultancy. They understand our business needs and offer timely, expert and cost-effective IT support on everything from mobile apps to server solutions...

Jerry Walker, Chief Executive Officer, Intelligent Fingerprinting

Our company has demanding information security and regulatory requirements. IT for Starters have supported us from when we first set up in an empty mill building and as we have grown. They bring a deep understanding of the pace, budgets and evolving needs of a small company...

Dr Tom Carrell, CEO, Cydar Medical

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