Setting up a Wi-Fi network for your small business

For any modern small business, whether a café, shop, restaurant or office, there comes a time when you need to start taking your Wi-Fi setup seriously. As I explained in my previous blog about how to make the most of your Wi-Fi network, it can bring in new customers, increase productivity, and provide overall cost-savings.

Small Business

Setting up a new Wi-Fi network across your small business doesn’t have to be panic-inducing. With the right platform (such as Ruckus Cloud Wi-Fi), implementation can be a breeze. So how do you approach what can seem quite an overwhelming task?

Regardless of whether you go with Ruckus or not, the below steps will guide you through the questions you need to answer as you implement your solution. If you put the work in up front, you’ll save countless hours in the long term – and achieve a Wi-Fi network that works for you and your customers.

Defining your small business requirements

Before you can make a decision, you need to fully understand your current state of affairs, and where you want to be:

Technical expertise
It’s important you understand from the outset what level of technical expertise you have to hand. Do you have an internal IT team? If not, are you willing to outsource? For small businesses with no existing IT team, a partner is a viable option. However, if you’re aware of your limited in-house knowledge then it emphasizes the need for a solution that’s simple to install and maintain.

Site structure
How many sites does your Wi-Fi need to cover? How big are these sites? Are there any architectural challenges? For instance, thick stone walls that can hamper wireless signals. Our APs provide better throughput and coverage, with technologies that overcome signal degradation, noise, and interference that disrupt service. The result is better coverage per AP, and therefore less investment in hardware. Even so, knowing your site and architectural challenges can help with planning your installation.

Investment
How much are you willing to invest? Consider both your upfront investment and your ongoing costs. By understanding these elements you’ll be able to ensure you implement a system that you can continue to maintain, while also delivering the best option for your price range.

Capacity
Capacity – i.e. the amount of demand and the number of users who will be using Wi-Fi – is an essential factor. If you are an office then this can be quite predictable – you know office hours and employee numbers. However, if you have a public space then this needs further investigation. You need APs that can handle peaks in activity.

Ruckus APs can support 30-50% more clients than competitive products without a performance penalty. More capacity per AP saves on buying additional APs.

Future proofing
Consider your future business plans. You don’t want to have to start from scratch if your business pivots or takes a major step. Will you need to scale? Might you want to change your Wi-Fi’s technical structure?

Ruckus allows you to add new APs easily, and they can work whether set up with a virtual controller, appliance-based controller, controller-less, or via the cloud.

Guest network
Guest networks to support customers and temporary visitors are invaluable for many small businesses. For example, are you a café looking to offer a free Wi-Fi hotspot to customers? It should be easy to set up, secure, and modify guest networks on the fly. Ruckus Cloud Wi-Fi makes guest network management simple. No special programming. No high-end IT resources required.

Security
The most important consideration when deciding on a solution is security. You need to know your data, your employees, your customers, and anyone else on your network are safe. Picking a system which can give you peace of mind is paramount to avoid the nightmares that keep many small business owners up at night.

Once you have these elements written down you are in a place to start having discussions and decide. Speak to providers and see how they respond to each element – can they deliver what you need, when you need it, within your budget?

Once a decision is made, it’s time to get yourself set up!

Setting up

Set up varies wildly dependent on each specific system. Some are more complicated and feel like they need a team of developers to implement – particularly for small businesses who may not have the budget or technical expertise to properly install.

Others, such as Ruckus Cloud Wi-Fi, offer a far simpler route to set up. To demonstrate this we’ve provided the 5 steps below:

  1. Activate – create and activate your Ruckus Cloud account, determining a secure password
  2. Set Up – Within Ruckus Cloud you define your “venues” – these can be an office location, site, or department.
  3. Create an SSID – define the network and password, and add-on a guest network if required
  4. Add AP – click ‘Add AP’ within the dashboard, and enter the necessary details
  5. Connect AP – Plug in the AP, and wait 5-10 minutes

Simple! For many businesses, you’ll be able to complete set up within a matter of hours. That way, you can go back to running your business, instead of tearing your hair out over complications. And… if you do hit any snags, then our Ruckus support team is always on hand to help.

Management

As with any network, it’s essential you have a procedure in place to monitor performance. If you’ve stuck with a reliable provider issues should be a rarity, but even infrequent downtime can have serious effects on your business.

It’s important you have a clear understanding of how you will monitor your network and who will do this.

Depending on your level of investment you could consider having an external agency monitor your network. They can often be on-hand 24 hours a day, meaning that you don’t have to worry if something happens at night, and potentially have it solved before customers arrive in the morning.

If you go internally you need to ensure that you have alerts set up and that you have a team who clearly understand what to do if a problem occurs. Who do they contact? What information do they need to include?

Ruckus Cloud Wi-Fi has a dashboard and app, which means that keeping track of network performance is made simple – no matter what level of technical expertise you might have.

And that’s it! Setting up Wi-Fi for your business is a big step, and it will take time to choose the right approach and layout. Having said that, with solutions such as Cloud Wi-Fi, a huge volume of the stress can be removed, expediting the process and ensuring you have a consistent, high-quality Wi-Fi connection across your entire business.

Want to find out more? See how a full-service fitness chain implemented Ruckus Cloud Wi-Fi across 21 locations.

Steve Johnson
Steve Johnson

Dir, Regional Sales, Northern Europe

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