Darren explains that if you are setting up your own business, it’s important to look at the IT as your business will rely on it. In his career, he has seen bigger companies who haven’t spent as much money on IT as they should have spent, which caused them more pain in the long run, so, to be able to set up a good platform for a business is crucial. Starting off with email, there are the big players: Office 365 which Lisa used but migrated away from because she wanted to use Google. Either of those are great for any business that’s starting off, especially because of the other tools that you can get with them. Although Lisa uses Google, Darren prefers Microsoft. Sometimes, businesses forget to do the simple things by using hotmail accounts instead of their business name, for example prideroad.co.uk, and it’s really easy to register a domain name, and he can register that so you can have an email address that matches your business identity.
Back ups is another area that people forget about, as they can just put files on their machines and forget to back them up. Everyone has a story about when they had a problem with that, and this happened yesterday with Pride Road. Lisa explains that they have a team of Adam who does web and SEO, David who looks after social media, Kris who does the CRM, and Darren who sets up the systems. The franchise site went down, for about 2 or 3 hours, and Darren fixed it.
Darren explains that there were some files that were missing for some unknown reason, but because the files were backed up, they restored the files from the backups, so the site was back up and running. Lisa explains that it’s about keeping track of who’s doing what and what’s going on, because, although you might think you can handle everything, it’s so easy to forget.
Darren explains that subscriptions are hard to manage if you’re not in IT. SEO, or search engine optimisation, and one of the rules that Google puts in place is SSL certificates, which they have to renew every year for both Pride Road and Pride Road Franchise. An SSL certificate secures the communications between the web browser on your machine and the website, and it is an indication that the website is a safe site to go onto, because sometimes you can receive email links that take you to malicious websites. So, the SSL certificate is a safety net to go towards proving it’s a safe site. Antivirus, with firewalls, is another essential, which you need even if you have a mack, as Lisa and Darren both have it. Darren manages the hosting of the websites, which means he provides a platform where the website sits and runs from, so he maintains it, puts the SSL certificates on it, and backs it up. He gives access to Lisa’s SEO and web developer, who take care of the content of the website, so he just provides a platform, or a home for the website.
They had issues last year about the speed of the site, as the platform they were using to host it, although the website was based in the UK, the traffic was being routed through Germany. The speed of the website is what Google looks at to inform it’s ranking of the website, so a fast site is crucial for SEO. As a small business, it’s easy to underestimate how much you should spend on IT, so Lisa’s spending really surprised her- she had no idea how depended they are on IT, and how much they depend on it, whether it’s the email accounts, the web hosting, the maintenance of the website, the software you need to buy to run everything such as your CRM, booking systems and Canva, and social media. You also need to buy hardware such as laptops, scanners and printers.
The way Pride Road works is quite unique in the way it works, so because it’s a simplified model, they don’t use CAD software- they do hand drawings and use a team of technicians to do the CAD drawings, which is brilliant because it’s less time consuming, and they don’t have to carry the software or the machines so you could operate on a Chromebook. So Lisa just has a Macbook Air, which she likes because it’s small and light so she can easily carry it around to take to clients, but she also uses the IPhone 11.