Cost Cutting for Small Business: Four Ways to Save on Wi-Fi

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Faced with higher interest rates, stubbornly high inflation, and the need to cut costs, small businesses are re-evaluating how to balance growth in the face of lower budgets, leaner teams, and more demands on the network they rely on to operate in a digital-first environment. This is particularly the case for those businesses without the luxury of a dedicated IT team.

It’s not all bad news. There are four proactive steps that business leaders can take to ensure that technology, especially foundational Wi-Fi network tools, can keep pace with evolving business requirements in a fast-changing and unpredictable business climate.

1. Start with Simplicity 

Complicated Wi-Fi solutions that require intensive manual setup can be a drain on a small business’ time and budget; many SMB teams don’t have specialized Wi-Fi experts on staff or on call to manage the process from conception to go live. Instead, it’s more efficient to consider a Wi-Fi solution that offers quick, out-of-the-box deployment that automates advanced features including RF management; intrusion detection and prevention; and guest management.

However, that system should also come equipped with the flexibility to scale with the business.

2. Look at the total cost of ownership of Wi-Fi to evaluate how to save

To help evaluate a system that can scale with the business, one that is also cost-effective and can be right-sized for the budget, leaders need to examine the total cost of ownership. It’s not just about the initial cost of an access point, switch, or other hardware required to deploy a given Wi-Fi solution. Additional hardware, recurring licenses, subscriptions, and outside IT support might be required to triage issues, which can drive up the total cost of ownership by increasing both capital and operational expenses.

The total cost of ownership becomes even more critical if business owners expect to expand a store footprint or want to open new locations. Here, managing the Wi-Fi system becomes even more complex. That complexity is an aspect founders may not have anticipated when initially evaluating their businesses’ first Wi-Fi setup, and now they may need to replace the entire system to get the desired performance, which will create additional, unanticipated costs.

Instead, small business executives should look for a complete Wi-Fi solution with longer hardware warranties and zero-to-low recurring costs for software licenses or subscriptions. That way, the Wi-Fi system can grow with the business without unnecessary, ballooning expenses.

3. Make Guest Access Easy

Providing customers, contractors, and other visitors with guest access to the Wi-Fi network has often become mandatory for businesses. To make that access a reality and to do it safely, most businesses are offering network access either on a single, open network or via pre-shared keys (PSK), which can have adverse security implications while placing the network at risk. Furthermore, these systems can be cumbersome for both the business and its guests—the business personnel must remember to keep PSK information handy, while the guest may have to fish around or ask multiple people for the “password” to gain access.

Instead, consider a solution that can separate guest and employee networks with ease. Everything from retail shops to B&Bs can further personalize and secure guest access features like a customizable captive web portal, self-registration for guests, and analytics. Some network solutions come with management options that offer wired and wireless access control list that restricts access to specific websites by preventing malicious traffic from entering the network. Network dashboards help to identify bandwidth hogs to improve overall wireless network performance. This makes life easier for employees and guests alike while providing a better overall view of the network performance.

4. Make the Leap to Cloud-Managed Wi-Fi

Choosing how to manage a network can be tricky. Some vendors might try to lock the organization into a mandatory management option, but a one-size-fits-all approach can’t possibly meet the needs of a rapidly evolving small business. Instead, consider a solution that offers the flexibility of the cloud by enabling remote management of multiple sites. After all, a single-location Wi-Fi setup can likely be managed on-site, but for organizations that are expanding to new locations and new geographies, cloud-based management may provide easier and more convenient network management.

A Solution for SMBs

For small business leaders balancing the cost of network upgrades with ongoing economic uncertainty, Aruba Instant On offers an out-of-the-box network solution. And should the business change or grow, leaders will have a scalable Wi-Fi network to change and grow right alongside it.

Watch this video for more about simple, fast, and secure small business Wi-Fi solutions.

Amol Mitra
Amol Mitra is a network evangelist and technology expert with 30 years of experience in the IT industry, Mitra has led and participated in several HPE cross-business initiatives spanning the areas of storage, servers, services, and networking. He also holds several patents for developing cutting-edge technology in the network switching area.

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