Broadband is becoming a business essential. So how can you equip yourself with the perfect package?
Recently, the Federation of Small Businesses undertook an extensive study into web usage, their aim to see how their members used the Internet in 2014. The picture created was pretty remarkable (at least to those outside the small business community) with the survey throwing up some stunning stats, indicating that -
94% of small business owners consider a reliable Internet connection to be critical to the success of their business
Only 15% of firms say they are very satisfied with their broadband provision
45,000 UK small businesses are still on dial-up speeds
Clearly then, the web is becoming integral to small businesses across the spectrum. Despite this a finding reliable broadband package appears to be a struggle, so how can you find the best deal for your business?
Firstly, learn the lingo
Before committing to any contract you ought to brush up on the broadband basics, so you don’t stumble into a service that won’t suit your business. Don’t let the more unscrupulous providers out there exploit your naivety, and equip yourself with an understanding of all the tricky acronyms.
Know what you need
Where broadband’s concerned there’s no one-size-fits-all package, and the type of service needed will vary drastically from business to business. A tradesman won’t need a top-of-range solution nor would a web designer want limited downloads. Note that location will impact too – rural areas aren’t as connected as cities.
A good place to start then is to consider exactly what you use the net for. Is it the focal point of your business or does it play a supporting role? Determining this will help you in the next step of your broadband quest…
Avoid the upsell
Broadly speaking if the web’s central to your business cable or fibre optic broadband will be the best fit, as these services tend to be quicker than the ADSL based option. Slightly slower but usually cheaper than the other two, an ADSL service tends to fit the sporadic user, who uses the web for things like email and general day-to-day admin.
Despite being built for home users, the Which? broadband usage calculator can give you a rough idea of the data allowance you’ll need. Although they sound impressive, super and ultrafast broadband might not be essential and a cheaper, more limited service may be more than enough for your needs.
Make the most of the market
BT lead the broadband market with around a 30% share but Sky, Virgin and TalkTalk all sit close with around 20% of the market each. Every customer is a vital as they battle for supremacy, so take advantage of the competition and use it to your advantage.
Shop around, get quotes and take them back to every provider. Chances are you’ll get an excellent deal as they battle for your custom. It’ll take a bit of time and effort but it could mean a substantial saving.
And finally, get your gripes heard
As the FSB’s report showed UK broadband needs a lot of work, especially in rural areas that need technological attention. If you feel your area has lacked investment then be willing to fight your corner, and try to get your gripes heard by the relevant authorities.
The government’s allocated around £250 million to improve rural broadband alone, so there’s plenty of investment out there that your business could benefit from. If poor broadband access is damaging your profitability take it to your local MP.