Guest Post for Skyway West from Marc Bissonnette
Internalysis | Canadian ISP
To the hard core geeks, like me, nothing in this list will be a surprise. To the majority of business owners out there, however, who speciliaze in what they are in business for, many tend to think of their Internet Service Provider as simply the ‘company that lets them connect to the Internet’. It may come as a pleasant surprise, then, to learn that your ISP can help you and your business in several ways – You may be even more pleasantly surprised to learn that some of these options may already be included in your web hosting or connectivity package!
- Multiple email addresses – When browsing through many websites, you often see many different email addresses for many different departments:
email@example.com for sales,
firstname.lastname@example.org for accounts
email@example.com for billing
firstname.lastname@example.org for support
and so on. For many small businesses, all of these addresses actually go to the same person. Why do this ? There are two primary advantages:
- Sorting and filtering mail: Receiving mail at sales@ lets you know right away this is a business-related email, whereas account_payable@ suggests someone is going to ask you to pay a bill.
- Public appearance: For some businesses, appearing larger or more organized is a benefit, lending confidence to potential customers that you are bigger than just one person operating out of a garage or basement.
Your ISP can easily set you up with multiple email addresses under your company domain name and have them all either go to your primary email address, or keep them as entirely separate accounts. Many ISPs offer multiple email addresses free with their hosting or connectivity accounts and some offer unlimited email addresses.
- Bonded Broadband: For a lot of businesses, having access to the Internet is critical to their day-to-day operations. The very thought of the Internet going down is a nightmare scenario. Many ISPs offer a service that allows you to join, or “bond” two entirely different types of connections, such as Cable and DSL or Wireless and Fibre – Not only do you have the benefit of greater bandwidth for faster, smoother connections to the Internet, but if one infrastructure goes down, say, someone in a backhoe cuts a fibre optic line in your neighbour hood, the second half of your bonded connection stays up, keeping you – and your business – online.
- Mailing lists / e-newsletter distribution: Many small businesses send out regular updates to existing and potential customers by email – often by simply using their own email client and the BCC field (Of course, only sending to users who have confirmed opt-in to receiving mail!) – With themselves in the “to” field. Your ISP will be able to set up a mailing list (listserv) for you, or help set up an email alias that looks more professional (“email@example.com”, for example) – Again, this is often a feature included for no extra charge in many hosting plans.
- File transfer applications and tools; Do you run a business that involves sending large documents back and forth, such as film/video, large documents or log files, massive inventory, research or CAD documents ? Your ISP can help you set up a file transfer repository that is much, much faster than sending them via email and a heck of a lot cheaper than using a courier or paying a third party cloud hosting service. It looks a lot more professional to tell your client “Just go to uploads.mycompany.com and send me your file there (with password)”, rather than asking them to use either a freebie public service, or paying to essentially advertise a third-party service.
- Telephone and long distance (VoIP) VoIP is becoming not only more and more popular, but it has actually being used by the telephone companies for years now, simply because it is a lot less expensive than using plain copper to send voice signals. The last time you called your next door neighbour to ask about that dinner party ? The chances are good you were using VoIP, even if you’ve never heard about it. Ask your ISP about their telephone packages – You might find that something so everyday as your telephone bill can actually cost you a lot less money than your telephone company is charging you.
- Television and entertainment; The “next big thing” that has been in the works for several years now is Television over the Internet, or TVoIP – It is worth asking your ISP if they offer this service, or can put you in touch with a company that does.
This is, obviously, just a partial list of what your ISP can do for you. If you are looking to grow your business, be it in increased sales, improved efficiency or greater abilities for your business, it is well worth your time to call your ISP and ask to speak to one of their business representatives to ask what they can do to make your business easier to run and more profitable.
Marc Bissonnette | Internalysis | Canadian ISP