When starting out in business it’s vitally important to keep business and home life separate. We know that when you’re a small business, you are probably working from home, and more often than not juggling the work/family life balance on a moment by moment basis. We intuitively understand the need to keep the work life separate in our heads and to allow space for this in our time at home, but very often we fail to do this with our IT resources.
I was called out as a last resort recently to such a small business. All the business computing was done on the family PC, which, although well up to the job was also shared by every member of the family. There are some significant problems with this approach:
- Usually the computer is left logged on and available for anyone to access files and applications
- Kids are prone to download and install all manner of ‘helpful’ software
- There is a single point of failure – if the family PC goes down the business files and software are unavailable
Remember that the smallest of businesses is still a business and the business resources and assets are crucial. The cost of purchasing a separate laptop for the business can be as little as £300 – that’s probably less than the cost to the business of the removal of malware and unpicking of business files from a shared PC that has expired under the strain of family use. Remember, our children are remarkably IT literate and yet incredibly naive – that’s a recipe for disaster when unsupervised on a business PC. The purchase of a separate machine also allows the home PC to act as an emergency backup device.
The Smallest Business Plan
Here’s a simple plan of attack for the smallest of businesses – the solopreneur or the home worker, or the husband and wife team.
- Set up a business web site and domain and use a cloud provider such as Google for Work or Outlook.com for proper domain specific email accounts for each worker.
- Purchase a separate PC or laptop and resolve to use it exclusively for business. Don’t let anyone else use it for any other purpose, especially not the kids!
- Ensure that you have an offsite backup of all important files so that you can carry on working if a single PC stops working. Use the cloud providers above or a simple file sync service such as Dropbox.
The most important thing is to plan. Ask yourself the question: what would be the effect of our single PC being out of action for a week? And then go out and get your small business into business by getting your small business IT on a business footing.