The Best Start-up Technology For Your Business
Technology has changed the way most of us do business. The Internet has allowed us to engage with customers in new ways, software and apps can assist in all manner of business processes and advances in telecommunications have allowed us all to be more connected.
The exact types of technology that you are most likely to benefit from will of course depend on the nature of your business. When entrepreneur Irvine Laidlaw built the Institute for International Research (IIR) into one of the world’s largest conference providers, for example, the venture required access to the finest and most up-to-date related technologies – from teleconferencing facilities that could allow participation at a remote location to presentation software such as PowerPoint and associated display hardware. The Lord Laidlaw Scholarships have since enabled students studying at places including the Columbia Business School and the Faculty of Performance, Visual Arts and Communications at the University of Leeds, to make their own contributions to the business world.
Tech start-ups will have their own specific requirements when it comes to technology and these can be very fast changing. Ruby on Rails (also known as just Rails) is a model-view-controller (MVC) that essentially allows you to create powerful web applications in a fraction of the time it would otherwise take. This could allow you to create prototypes on a much shorter timeframe, or to experiment with ideas without having to commit huge swathes of time and resources. According to self-reported data published by AngelList, Ruby on Rails is now the second most used programming language for new start-ups.
Not every new business is as cutting-edge as London’s Silicone Roundabout startups, however, and technology can still have an impact on pretty much every kind of business. It’s rare to find any business without some sort of web presence and many require tools such as office and productivity suites, database management systems and data storage solutions. Some packages are available free to qualifying businesses. Microsoft BizSpark includes high-end versions of Office, Visual Studio, SQL Server and MSDN and a given amount of access to Azure cloud services. IBM also has a similar program in the IBM Global Entrepreneur program (GEP). Qualifying businesses must be earning less than US$1 million (around £660,000). The program is focused on IBM’s cloud services.
There are other considerations that new businesses should be aware of. HMRC now requires businesses to submit employee tax and National Insurance information in real time – the biggest change to the PAYE tax system since it was introduced. Basic software allowing you to submit this Real Time Information (RTI) can be downloaded for free from HMRC but more advanced systems can help you to carry out other payroll-related tasks more easily. Another relatively new development is the growth of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), where employees access work systems and programs using their own laptops, smartphones and other devices. This can add extra flexibility but can also require specialized security solutions.
New businesses are built on a good idea and a thorough business plan, but choosing the right technology can help you achieve your goals through those tricky opening stages and beyond.