Why hosted e-mail?
95% of the time having your e-mail server in-house introduces unnecessary complexity to your IT + spendings you probably want to avoid. Why make things harder for yourself? Your website hosting provider probably offers an affordable email service that will meet all of your needs. You will not have to worry about being blacklisted or figure out how to fight spam. Hosted wins this one!
Cloud or In-house?
“Cloud” is a hot topic nowadays. Everyone seems to use this magical term as if it was a Holly Grail for all business needs. For example: An office network will still require certain physical assets in order for your computers to communicate – there is no way around that. When sharing documents between staff it will be much faster with an in-house server (myOFFICE). On the other hand a property management software could benefit from the Cloud approach because the agent would be able to access tenant viewing details while on the go using multiple mobile devices (most likely using a convenient app). Choose the right tools that are best suited for the job and always explore your options before going with either solution.
Do I need a server?
Every organization I worked for has benefited from a small file server to exchange documents and manage user accounts. You could rely on free cloud storage where the business consists of 2-3 people. However anything beyond that point would require a server in my personal opinion (especially within an office) – and it does not need to cost you an arm and a leg. Currently a brand new server with two hard drives and a UPS (protects from power spikes) should cost you below £500. You could purchase a pre-owned system from ebay (or specialist refurbisher) if you are on a tight budget.
How to build a website (cheap)?
Get yourself a domain name and hosting first. Both services should be under £60 a year. Most providers will offer you to install WordPress. This tool is open source (free to use) and allows you to create a website using free templates. Everything is done in a web browser so you don’t need to have any in-depth IT knowledge. Good luck!
Spreadsheet vs Database
People tend to use a spreadsheet for everything these days. In a small office environment it will probably work just fine – and if it works than keep at it. However if you need something accessible by multiple users and / or from multiple locations at the same time you will need to invest in a proper database system (myDATABASE). The development of such system can take some time depending on your requirements, but it is worth the effort in the end. Other benefits are: backups, centralised data, easy maintenance, simplified future upgrades and much more improved workflow!