The service you get from your business internet service provider (ISP) will determine how speedy your connection gets and how safe it stays, and this impacts how your team communicates with each other and with your customers. In short, choosing a great provider is a critical step in helping your business be as efficient, secure and productive as possible.
Here are the features to look out for when you’re choosing the best business internet:
1. Internet speed
Make sure you’re asking potential providers detailed questions about the speeds they promise, as there can be a lot of nuance when it comes to fast internet for small business.
For one, you’re likely going to want more than just fast download speeds. Many productivity needs, including video conferencing, data backups and cloud applications like Google Docs, also require high upload speeds.
You can count on fiber internet for matching upload and download speeds. Plus, it can keep those higher speeds more consistent than cable can, even with more users and data, making it possible to manage multiple workflows at once. If fiber optic internet is available in your area, it’s your best option to keep your business running smoothly.
If fiber for business isn’t available near you, make sure you’re getting the speeds you need to run efficiently. Here’s a look at speeds you should aim for:
- 10 or fewer users – 100 Mbps. This will give you and your lean team the speed and power you need to perform tasks like Zoom calls, large data backups and remote work without lags. You’ll also want at least this speed if you’re hosting your website or have an e-commerce element to your business.
- 15–25 users – 300–500 Mbps. More users require more speed and bandwidth. This range will give you what you need to power e-commerce, use remote collaboration tools, tune into large video conferencing calls and back up tons of data to the cloud.
- 25+ users – 1 gig, or gigabit internet, which is 1,000 Mbps. Investing now in fast, efficient gigabit internet will allow your business to stay on track even as it grows past 25 users who need to run cloud applications, share large amounts of data and create multimedia projects.
2. Customer service
You want to know that when you have any kind of issue with your provider, they’re able to fix it immediately. Do they provide omnichannel support, and can you get an expert on the phone to work through problems when they arise? Are they available 24/7/365? Will there be hidden fees with the customer service? These are all questions to get answered before you land on your ISP.
3. Business email accounts and other business needs
Most providers offer business email accounts as part of their business packages, but make sure you’ll get as many as your company needs, and ask if they also come with additional storage, so you know you’re able to handle the kind of data you need to via those addresses.
You can also ask potential providers about other business needs they can help you with. Many of them have partnerships with business resource services and can offer capabilities you need, from registering a domain name to cloud data storage to administrative mobile apps. Some ISPs offer cloud-based web hosting for your site, helping you keep hosting affordable and convenient.
4. Bundles with phone and TV services
Are you a restaurant that shows all the big games every weekend, or an office where customers are calling around the clock to make appointments? If your business needs TV or phone services in addition to internet, it’s easier and more affordable for you if you can get it all from the same provider. See what kind of bundled deals you can get to provide you and your customers with the all-around connectivity they’ve come to expect.
5. Wi-Fi or hotspots for customers
If you’re a business that offers Wi-Fi to your customers, make sure it’s built into your plan with your ISP. You don’t want to offer Wi-Fi as an afterthought and have connections that are slow for everyone. Look for a provider that can help you configure equipment to get the best speeds and signals for both your employees and your customers.
The importance of security cannot be understated. Cyber attacks are one of the biggest threats to small businesses. Let your ISP be your first line of defense when it comes to protecting your information and that of your customers.
Choose a provider that offers added security protection for businesses. You want assurances that there is preventive security, including constant detection and elimination of threats, as well as a plan in place to protect your assets and reduce downtime if a threat does make its way through.
You may also want to make sure your ISP can offer extra defense for your remote workers who operate on their personal devices, and encryption and other services for protecting customer data.
Your business might be small now, but if you have big dreams, make sure you pick a provider whose service can scale with you. Select a provider with speeds and service you can upgrade as you gain more employees and customers, and one that will take care of your connectivity, so you can focus on building the business of your dreams.