Your small business’ network design needs to reflect your unique setup—the same solution that works for a larger company or an independent contractor isn’t going to match up perfectly with what you need to achieve your long-term vision. But where do you start? If your company only has limited resources to work with to find a network solution that fits seamlessly with your strategy and business practices, it can seem daunting to try and sift through what works and what doesn’t.
Starting with a foundation of switches and routers is a great entry point, but business owners need to be cognizant of what sort of environment they want to create and what kind of resources it’s going to take to fulfill that vision. Here are some helpful best practices we’ve learned over the years of helping small businesses develop their unique network.
- Start with the basics: Every small office network needs to utilize switches and routers. If you don’t have the proper foundation in place, then you’re limiting your own progress. Here are the crucial differences between the two:
- Switches connect hardware and devices on the same network, enabling connected devices to work in tandem with each other. Integrating multiple devices on the same network enables seamless communication and data transfer.
- Routers tie entire networks together. A router functions as a dispatcher, selecting the safest and most efficient avenue for your information to reach its next destination. It also connects to a larger array of networks, protects valuable information, and organizes your devices for seamless information transition.
- Identify what equipment you’ll need long-term: Determining the best hardware and software applications for your unique setup takes time and diligent planning. Don’t waste time and money investing in a rigid solution that doesn’t allow any room for growth. Take your time and choose a network that fosters your company’s growth over an extended period of time. Give yourself room to add useful solutions like Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), wireless applications, and more.
- Find a solution that’s reliable: The hardest part about planning is accounting for the unaccountable—the best you can do is make sure you’re in the best position possible to survive and thrive in the wake of unforeseen issues with your network. Whether that’s installing a solid, redundant data backup and disaster recovery solution, or utilizing proactive network security solutions, make sure that you’re setting yourself up for success.
- Be proactive: When you’re outlining what you’re looking for in a network design, don’t limit yourself to what you need for an immediate solution. As cybersecurity threats grow more sophisticated and you scale up in personnel, you need to make sure you’re able to continually update the solution that you already have. Don’t fall behind before you’ve even started.
Don’t let avoidable problems deter your progress toward installing an innovative network for your small business. A small business’ network design should reflect the long-term vision of the company, not a haphazardly thrown-together array of solutions that don’t work in unison. Identify where you want to go—from there, the rest is easy.