Office 365 – The New Business Essentials

I recently attended a conference session about resources and tools available for new business owners.  While a lot of the conversation what about raising seed and venture money, one topic was about the tools and services that are essential to a new business. 

They listed a lot of the things that you would expect: A phone number, a good place to get business cards and a business address (see below). Being in the technology field, I was thinking along different lines. They didn’t mention a domain name, email and a website, though I hope it was just assumed.

I would argue that with the release of Office 365, this is also going to be a small business essential tool.  Office 365 is going to be a simple, inexpensive tool that can meet the core email and website needs while being chock full of so much more potential. 

  1. Sign up for Office 365
  2. Get yourself a domain name and configure your Office 365 account to use it for email and public-facing site. You may need some guidance or assistance with this, but it’s a lot less than setting up your own servers and there are a LOT of resources to help – online and other. 
  3. Build your public-facing site.  This can be as simple or complex as you’d like to make it, but with the template and tools available, you can be up in minutes. 
  4. Now, go about your business.
  5. In the meantime, start to look at all the other capabilities you have:
    1. Lync Online – Conduct your online meetings without needing another services like GoToMeeting, etc…
    2. SharePoint Online – Store and share your documents and other content.  MUCH more later as you learn about SharePoint’s capabilities…
    3. Exchange Online – Primarily your email, but so much more than the basic accounts you had in the past. Manage your calendar and resources and sync them from multiple devices. 
    4. and so, much more…

To be fair, during the session they did also mentioned DropBox, and GoToMeeting. Dropbox may still be a useful tool, depending on the devices you’re using, though Office 365 is going to fill a lot of that capability as well.  GoToMeeting is fully surpassed by the Lync Online capabilities and integration that Office 365 offers. 

So, if you ask me – I wouldn’t start a business without spinning up a Office 365 site as one of the first things. 

Notes and References:

  • The conference I was attending was the MHTA Spring Conference.  They did a fantastic job.  If you’re in the Minneapolis, MN area and can attend I highly recommend it.  MHTA is the Minnesota High Tech Association
    • Grasshopper Virtual Phone System – This could be useful as an alternative to giving out your cell number to anyone.
    • GotPrint.com – Yep, you need to have business cards and these are certainly inexpensive.
    • A P.O. box – Don’t want to be using your home address, but I prefer the UPS box option that allows for a real address with no ‘P.O.’ and notification when stuff arrives.

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