You're going to have a hard time running your online business without reliable high-speed Internet access.
At one time, we were having so much trouble meeting our bills that the satellite TV was sacrificed. Instead of buying the food we wanted, we purchased the cheapest food we could — with coupons. But, during this time, there was one thing we knew we couldn't do without: Broadband Internet access.
Many people look at high-speed Internet and immediately classify it as a “want.” These folks, though, obviously do not make a living online. We have always used high-speed Internet access because it's necessary when you run a home business. You can't set up and maintain an online store unless you have broadband Internet access. As a freelance writer whose clients are mostly online, I need access to the Internet. If you plan to run a successful home business, reliable high-speed Internet goes a long way. Search your entire region, as business internet providers are more numerous than you think. For example, if you are in southern California you may want to look for internet providers in San Diego and Los Angeles to compare prices and speeds.
What are Your Options?
Your first step is to consider your options. Sadly, where I live, the options are fairly limited and the service is awful across the board. Even with a 15 meg plan — which I pay for — I'm lucky if I end up with between 5 and 8 megs. (I used to have a 7 meg plan, but it was so incredibly slow that every day's work became an exercise in frustration.) Consider what you need in order to reliably access the Internet. Your speeds and reliable access can also be influenced by:
- How many people in your household are using the Internet
- The kind of sites you visit, and the bandwidth involved
- The quality of your router and other equipment
- If you have wireless, your connection can be influenced by the obstacles in your home
- Whether your service provider practices throttling
- Time of day (whether the provider is weighed down with usage)
Shop around to figure out which service provider will give you the best deal, and help you meet your needs. And, if you're stuck, like I am, paying out the nose for what can, on a good day, be only considered mediocre, remind yourself that it's the cost of doing business and be thankful that at least it's tax deductible.
Create a Backup Plan
While being able to work from home in your underwear is a nice perk of owning a home business, sometimes you won't be able to work from home. If your Internet goes out, you will have to be able to complete your business actions somehow. The same is true when the power goes out. Your router and modem won't work if there is no power for them to run off. You need a backup plan for when you can't work at home.
One option is to use a coworking location. If you don't want to pay for home high-speed Internet service, and if your home business doesn't require you to have constant access to the Interent, coworking might work for you. But, even so, you still need a backup for when your expected Interent access isn't working.
I have a chain of backup plans that I can put into action if needed. Here is a rundown of where I go for Internet access if something happens to prevent me from getting online at home:
- Locally owned coffee shop with free Wi-Fi access (but I buy a pastry and a drink because I feel bad if I don't)
- McDonald's because it now has free Wi-Fi
- The library (which doesn't have Wi-Fi, so I only get an hour on a “research” computer)
Just as I have limited access to decent Internet at home where I live, my access to other Internet resources is also limited. Most of the Wi-Fi hotspots in town are in coffee shops and hotels. There aren't a lot of choices for public Wi-Fi, especially since the hotspot at the mall was discontinued. If I end up going to the library, I have to make a very specific task list of the vital items that need to be accomplished, since I will only have an hour.
You can look around your town to find out what is available to you, in terms of Wi-Fi. JiWire has a handy hotspot finder that can help you find free and paid hotspots in 143 countries. Know where you can go before?you run into problems; you'll save time when you're in a crunch.
High speed Internet access is what allows you to work online, as well as hold meetings with others via Skype or other meeting software. From promoting your business, to updating your online catalog, to connecting to clients and partners, the Internet is one of your best home business tools. If you are interested in a well-run home business, high-speed Internet access is a must.