A comprehensive IT Guide for Startups

Starting a new business venture is an exciting journey, but one of the critical aspects that demand careful consideration is the setup of your Information Technology (IT) infrastructure. With 60% of all startups failing the UK, getting a reliable and scalable system your business can depend on is more important than ever. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the essential considerations and steps for choosing and setting up your business IT environment. From selecting the right domain name to delving into productivity suites, internal collaboration tools, cyber security measures, and beyond, we’ve got you covered. 

In this article, we cover:

Domain Name

So, you’ve already brainstormed and finalized your business name, but before you proceed further, it’s imperative to check the availability of domains. You wouldn’t want to double down on a name and start your branding discussions only to find out that the corresponding domain is already taken. Utilize tools like, which can provide insights into available domains, with popular choices being .com or While these might be a bit more expensive, they are often the most recognizable and trustworthy options. 

However, keep in mind that uniqueness matters. Choosing a domain that is too similar to another company operating in the same industry can lead to web traffic issues and difficulties in ranking on search engines. Additionally, consider user-friendliness – people will be typing these domain names in emails or seeing them in advertisements. Therefore, opt for simplicity and brevity. If your business name is lengthy, consider using initials. For example, “Money Making Experts Partners” could be simplified to “MMEP.” 

Purchasing a domain is a straightforward process that you can undertake yourself. Take this step early on to ensure you secure the domain and can build your online presence from there. It’s also worth considering obtaining an SSL certificate for your domain. SSL certificates not only secure your website but can also positively impact your Google ranking. 

Once you’ve acquired your domain, the next step is hosting. If you’re handling the setup independently, you can host your domain with the same provider. Just be sure to keep track of all login details, as they will be crucial for subsequent steps. Resist the urge to get upsold into additional services, such as productivity suites or email services, at this stage. We’ll delve into those considerations shortly. 

Productivity Suite – Email, File Sharing, Document Editing

A productivity suite is the backbone of your business operations, providing essential tools for email communication, file sharing, and document editing. Two prominent options in this realm are Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace. Choosing the right suite for your startup requires careful research and can be as simple as previous experience and preference. 

It’s advisable to consolidate your needs within one productivity suite as much as possible. This simplifies management and sets the stage for scalability, making onboarding new team members more straightforward. Opting for multiple licenses or different systems can become expensive, so a unified system is not only cost-effective but also aids in enforcing security measures consistently. 

When deciding between Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace, consider the specific features each offers. Microsoft 365 includes familiar applications like Office, Word, Excel, and Outlook, which might be advantageous if your team is already accustomed to these tools. On the other hand, Google Workspace operates entirely in the browser, offering tools like Google Sheets and Google Docs which could be preferred. License costs for comparable suites of applications are very similar.  

For security considerations, Microsoft 365 is often preferred due to its robust advanced security features, such as mobile device management. License types can be confusing, however for all standard employees choose Microsoft Business Standard or Business Premium licenses for Microsoft 365 and Business Standard or Business Plus for Google Workspace. For those needing just email accounts only you can get cheaper licenses fort each. These license options usually come with annual commitments, but you can always upgrade during that period so start lower and work up. 

While it’s possible to mix and match the two suites, this can complicate matters, especially as cybersecurity becomes a more significant concern. These platforms can serve as one-stop shops for security controls around data, devices, and employees when implemented correctly within a single system, so try not to confuse things and use both! 

When setting up your productivity suite, pay attention to folder structure and permissions. Adopting role-based access ensures that individuals only have access to the folders necessary for their roles. Avoid dumping everything into a few top-level folders, as this can lead to issues in the future. It’s also prudent to limit administrative privileges, ensuring that only select managers have administrative controls. Implement an approval/request process within the organization for accessing new files, folders, and changing settings. 

Lastly, resist the temptation to choose Microsoft offerings through intermediaries like GoDaddy. Setting up an account and paying directly provides more control, unless you’re going through a reseller or an IT support provider, where you might benefit from better pricing and support. 

Internal Chat and Collaboration

While email and file sharing are crucial components of collaboration, they are just the beginning. You also need to consider internal and external communication and collaboration. While many companies turn to platforms like Slack for internal chat, project/team discussions, task lists, and project management, our recommendation is to leverage the communication tools integrated into your chosen productivity suite. 

Both Microsoft and Google offer internal chat solutions – Microsoft Teams and Google Chat/Meet respectively. By using these tools, you gain the added benefit of other integrated applications within the suite. For instance, Microsoft 365 features Tasks within Teams, providing seamless access to files without the need to switch between systems while maintaining security controls. 

You will be able to collaborate with internal and external staff on documents online in real-time with both these suits, however, be careful when setting up your external sharing permissions – you wouldn’t want to share your entire business library with someone!  

The key here is simplicity. Keeping all data and communication within one system enhances management and security. Avoid spreading out your tools and logins, as this can lead to complexity and potential security vulnerabilities in the future. 

Cyber Security

Cybersecurity is a crucial aspect that startups cannot afford to overlook. Establishing basic cybersecurity measures from the start is essential to safeguard your business from potential threats. The consequences of a cybersecurity breach can be severe, ranging from the loss of clients and intellectual property to financial setbacks that could threaten the very existence of your business. 

Start by adopting cybersecurity measures within your chosen productivity suite. Basic data security is included in business packages, but it’s worth exploring more comprehensive packages that offer an advanced cybersecurity approach. Choosing an upgraded license type can be a minor increase in costs compared to the potential fallout from a cybersecurity incident. 

Both Google and Microsoft offer a range of security solutions, including antivirus protection, email security and spam filters, multi-factor authentication (MFA), encrypted emails, permission controls, admin access restrictions, password policies, screen lockout policies, data and email archiving to prevent deletion, and conditions for accessing your data. In the future, you can explore advanced solutions such as device management, controlling the devices allowed to access your data, ensuring encryption, updates, and approved antivirus solutions. 

In our view, the minimum cybersecurity suggestions include enforcing multi-factor authentication (MFA), implementing password policies, ensuring device encryption, employing email security and spam filters, using antivirus protection, implementing a DNS filter on devices, and ensuring that all your devices are on a domain. Domain joining machines allow you to easily enforce top-level security controls on your business devices, however many It providers can also enforce these controls with their management tools. 

Setting up these measures properly is as crucial as having them in place. Improperly configured or unenforced security measures can be just as detrimental as having no security measures at all. It’s highly recommended to seek professional assistance or, preferably, engage anIT support provider to support your setup and manage all aspects of cybersecurity. 

Other Applications – Accounting, HR, Project Management, etc

While your productivity suite forms the backbone of your operations, it’s essential to explore additional applications that complement your business needs. Before venturing into third-party applications, thoroughly investigate what your chosen productivity suite offers. You might be surprised by the array of integrated solutions available, covering areas such as accounting, HR management, project management, and more. 

Not all ‘clouds’ are the same, and our recommendation is to look for Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions over privately hosted or hosted environments. SaaS solutions typically come with monthly subscriptions, offering more integrations, regular updates, and no infrastructure management responsibilities. In contrast, private cloud or hosted instances may still rely on server infrastructure, potentially becoming outdated and requiring costly upgrades or migration to new systems. 

Consider staying away from onsite servers unless your business requires a very specific system that can only be provided through an onsite instance, and even then, the options are increasingly limited in today’s tech landscape. 

IT Support Providers

The idea of engaging an IT support company might seem like an obvious recommendation, but the truth is, businesses that invest in setting up scalable IT systems tend to experience quicker growth and encounter fewer issues along the way. 

Partnering with an IT support company during the early stages of your startup has numerous advantages. They can ensure your system is set up correctly for reliability and enhanced productivity while incorporating necessary security measures. Most IT services operate on a monthly cost-per-device or employee basis, making the initial costs manageable for small businesses and scaling up as your business grows. 

Beyond the initial setup, having an IT support company in your corner means you can step away from day-to-day IT management tasks. This includes activities like setting up email accounts, granting access to folders, configuring new systems, and procuring laptops. This hands-off approach frees up your time to focus on your core business offerings and the overall growth of your startup. 

Consider that, as your business expands, you will inevitably face a choice between maintaining an in-house IT team (which can be expensive and carries the risk of knowledge silos) or outsourcing to a reliable IT support partner. Opting for professional IT support from the beginning can potentially save you money in the long run. Many businesses learn this the hard way when they bring in an IT provider later on to rectify setup issues or implement new systems. 

An IT company can also provide valuable insights into industry best practices, ensuring your startup stays on the right track concerning cybersecurity and adopts the most cost-effective systems and services. This guidance helps prevent costly mistakes that could impact your bottom line and waste valuable time. 

Other Considerations

Purchasing Devices:

When it comes to purchasing devices for your startup, several considerations can significantly impact your business operations: 

  • Windows Professional: Opt for devices with the Windows Professional operating system rather than Windows Home. This ensures access to specific security controls and applications vital for business use. 
  • Processor and RAM: Aim for a minimum of an i5 processor and 8GB of RAM. If your team uses numerous applications or browsers simultaneously, consider upgrading to 16GB of RAM and a i7 – or similar.  
  • Storage: If your work involves minimal local storage (on the machine), you can save costs by opting for a smaller hard drive, but always go for a Solid-State Drive (SSD). SSDs offer faster performance. 
  • Ports: Consider the available ports on devices to facilitate multiple screens, docking stations, and other connectivity needs. 
  • Mobility: If your remote workforce is frequently on the move, consider the weight and portability of devices. Striking a balance between performance and portability is crucial. 
  • Warranty: Always opt for devices with a three-year hardware warranty to mitigate potential issues and ensure long-term reliability. 



When it comes to establishing an online presence through a website, several considerations are worth keeping in mind: 

  • WordPress: Consider using WordPress for your website. It’s widely supported by web developers, making it easier to find assistance and offers a range of templates for easy editing. 
  • Web Development: While most IT providers don’t specialize in website development, they often have preferred providers they recommend. Consider aligning your website development with your IT provider’s recommendations. 
  • Hosting: Your web developer may offer website hosting services (different to domain hosting), and it’s generally advisable to host through them for streamlined support. 
  • Security: Ensure your website has an SSL certificate for enhanced security. Additionally, implement a robust backup system to safeguard against data loss. 

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  1. GoDaddy Microsoft 365 Account:

Avoid opting for a GoDaddy or Ionos Microsoft 365 package. This option tends to offer limited functionality, particularly concerning security features, and is often more expensive. Choosing this path will necessitate a later migration to a proper Microsoft 365 account, incurring additional costs and potential disruptions. 

  1. Domain Linking:

Ensure your domain is correctly linked to your chosen productivity suite from the beginning. Starting with personal or different email and calendar solutions and later transitioning to your chosen domain can be both costly and disruptive. 

  1. Correct Licenses:

Pay for the correct licenses to avoid confusion and potential data loss. Attempting to use home or family accounts, or share license accounts, for business purposes leads to issues and compromises security. 

  1. Folder Structure and Permissions:

Establishing the correct folder structure and permissions from the outset is crucial. Consider the specific use cases for top-level folders and allocate access accordingly. Avoid creating numerous groups, forwarding email accounts, or Teams without a clear understanding of the differences and requirements. 

  1. New Folder Creation:

Restrict who can create new folders to maintain organization and clarity. Uncontrolled folder creation can lead to chaos, making it challenging to locate files and resulting in data duplication. Implement a structured approval process for creating new folders. 

  1. Top-Level Folder Dumping:

Avoid the practice of using a few top-level folders to dump all files into. This can lead to issues related to file amount and character length, while also hindering effective role-based access control as your business grows. 

  1. Buying Windows Home Devices:

Selecting Windows Home devices might seem cost-effective initially, but it can limit your ability to implement essential security controls, services, and applications. Upgrades to Windows Professional can be expensive, so opt for the appropriate operating system from the start. 

How Sereno can help  

In conclusion, laying the foundation for your startup’s IT infrastructure is a pivotal step in ensuring smooth operations, scalability, and robust security. By carefully navigating each stage, from selecting the right domain to implementing cybersecurity measures and engaging professional IT support, you set your business on a path for sustained success in the ever-evolving digital landscape. 

Reach out to Sereno today to speak with one of our advisors and see how we can help support your businesses growth. 

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