Email is a critical part of running most small businesses these days, but we are still finding business owners who aren’t aware of the benefits of setting up their email professionally.
The first mistake small businesses make is using the free email address that is provided as part of their broadband internet subscription. In many cases, this will be an @bigpond.com or similar address. Business owners should setup email accounts using a domain name they own (like shiftsolutions.com.au), to give a more professional appearance, and also so that they retain full control of the business email; Locking yourself into using your ISP for email means you will never be able to change your internet provider, which over the years could cost you thousands in higher fees or lost productivity.
Another common mistake for very small businesses is to use one address for the entire business, even when there are more than one member of staff. Even if you only advertise one address to begin with, enabling each team member to have their own, seperate email account provides greater productivity, as each team member can be responsible for their own emails. Worse, it’s often the case that the way the email is setup is such that every team member receives the same emails, so you have the problem of multiple members of the team working on the same email, thus wasting time.
Small business owners should setup generic email addresses, such as sales@ or info@, and when communicating to people outside the business, those generic email addresses should be the ones you give out; This enables you to direct those emails to different team members, as people leave and are replaced in your business, or when they take holidays and someone else needs to handle the email.
Another issue that is often overlooked is the size of the mailbox most ISP’s give you; Generally, 20 Meg is the limit, which for normal use is more than enough, but many business clients like to get their email on their computer and their phone, and this often requires a larger mailbox to store the email for longer periods of time; With your own domain hosted email, you can control how big your mailbox needs to be, but with ISP email, you have no say.
Finally, for mobile team members, or those with iPhone / iPad devices, consider a hosted exchange service; This service puts your email “in the cloud”, but with a full Microsoft Exchange Server to handle it, which enables things like calendar sharing, a great help to small business owners. It also means when you read an email on one device, it will show up as read on every device, because instead of copies of your email being saved to each device seperately, there is just the single copy, on your Exchange server. (Larger businesses with a small business server get Exchange as part of the deal)
Using email to the full will bring your small business productivity gains and make the job of running your business that much easier.