Growing a startup can be hugely rewarding and transformational, not only for you but also a whole industry—but it can also be a money pit.
Unfortunately, you can’t always avoid these expenses. As a business owner, you should never scrimp on the essentials, in particular when it comes to communications and security.
This is especially true if your startup is cloud-based or does any work on the Internet. At the very least, you need to make sure you have the following:
- The best possible Internet connection (speed and stability)
- Software (well-chosen, versatile tools—we’ll get into this more later)
- Hardware (storage and computing power), and
- Data and communications security
🔍 Are you thinking about purchasing a new communication tool and unsure how to get started? Here’s a checklist to help you pick the right one for your startup.
You can control the first three reasonably well through smart budgeting. For example, you may not need the absolute best when it comes to connection speed, but it should match the needs of your business.
Security, however, should be neither ignored nor the least of your priorities.
The Internet could be a dangerous place, especially when money and valuable information (not only about stuff like your core IP, but also about your customers) are involved.
What are the ways to make sure your startup’s communications are airtight?
For a startup that’s still growing its tech stack and forming its day-to-day processes, this time is actually a huge advantage because you have a blank slate. You can set your security standards and choose the channels you want to use to communicate on without worrying if it’s going to be compatible with all the software your company’s already using.
Of course, most people would rather focus on marketing and sales. After all, those translate more tangibly into financial gains. But lack of good internal processes and security can undermine success and profit, too. So what’s a busy business owner to do?
Well, you could just find a service provider that can worry about that for you. There are a few ways to make sure your startup’s infrastructure (both in terms of the physical and online aspects) is secure:
- Environment (physical location) security
- Network and infrastructure security
- Transmission security
How do you handle these things? Well…
1, Environment: Make sure that your location and environment are secure
Your business’ location is vital to your success, although this is less and less of a concern as more startups move to an exclusively online setup.
For most tech-focused startups, the physical locations of your data centers is probably going to be more important.
Either way, good third-party service providers should have multiple layers of security in place. Their data centers tend to be protected by robust electronic prevention systems as well as on-site security personnel and on-call engineering specialists. These centers should also be set up in diverse locations, minimizing the risk of service termination and data loss from catastrophic events. Specialists are available round-the-clock to make sure someone will be there to handle issues as soon as they’re identified.
Find those good third-party service providers.
👀 What are the 4 key components of a successful startup?
2. Network and infrastructure security: Have a robust network and infrastructure
If you’re working through the cloud, then your infrastructure is the backbone of your operations. A weak segment can cripple the whole system. Getting a service provider with the best infrastructure security for your business can really take the load off your shoulders.
But before you subscribe to a service, ask them about the firewalls and session border controllers they have in place. These are the things that keep your network and applications safe in case someone decides to attack your system. Make sure they provide intrusion detection systems and fraud analytics. These deter attacks and also prepare your system for one.
As for internal security, you’ll also want to ask if they have options for multiple authentication levels. This way, you can set up administrative functions properly instead of giving everyone on your team access to confidential information. Ask if your third-party service provider can give you a hand with monitoring and vulnerability scans for your peace of mind.
3. Transmission security: Ensure information exchange between you and your customers is always protected
Transactions, information exchange, internal communications, and other similar interactions are all important when doing business.
Transmission security should be at the top of your priority list, especially since it involves the exchange of money, goods, and vital information about your company. There are many people who try to take advantage of startups because they tend to have weak security measures. A truly reliable third-party service provider safeguards the transmission of data and communications completely.
A good example would be RingCentral and its transmission security. This safety net ensures your communications won’t be intercepted, with Transport Layer Security (TLS) and Secure Real-Time Transport Protocol (SRTP) encryption. All endpoints, from desk phones to conference phones to mobile devices, will be protected.
For startups, there are few things more powerful and important than data. That’s why it’s crucial to have a communication platform that makes sure your business and client data are always secure. Try to find a solution that has enterprise-grade security to encrypt meetings and conversations—and don’t forget about compliance certifications like GDPR, CCPA, and other industry regulations. (Which RingCentral also has!)
Startups, even when you’re on a tight budget, can still find ways to keep online assets safe and secure with the help of the right service provider.
Choose a reliable provider, ask about the different security measures they take, and train your team on how to communicate securely.
Originally published Dec 02, 2020, updated Feb 16, 2021