You've Got Mail

Tired of combatting technical problems and the latest spam attack? Outsource your e-mail operations, and you could be left hassle-free.

Many entrepreneurs can't fathom how their businesses ever ran without e-mail. As it increasingly becomes the preferred method of communication, e-mail is a resource most businesses can't afford to do without.

Building and managing a secure and reliable e-mail system isn't easy, however. And it's time consuming and costly to boot. So rather than waste precious time, resources and expertise, many entrepreneurs are opting to outsource instead.

Outsourcing all or just a portion of your e-mail functions makes sense for a lot of reasons. First, because e-mail outsourcing companies are experts in their field, their services tend to be highly reliable. If the e-mail server goes down or you're the victim of a spam attack, the company is there to clean up the mess. If you're growing fast, it's the company's job to make sure your e-mail system keeps up with the demand. Although you may be required to perform general maintenance tasks, like adding new e-mail users, this can be done easily and often using only your Web browser.

What's more, e-mail outsourcing is cost-efficient. You don't need to invest in expensive hardware and software such as servers, routers and high-end e-mail programs. And e-mail outsourcing companies offer economies of scale you can't get on your own: Depending on the type of service contract and extras you choose, you'll find some monthly e-mail services cost just $5 per user.

These solutions work well for companies that already have existing e-mail systems but don't want to waste their IT resources on managing them anymore. They're also helpful for companies that use dial-up accounts but still want their employees to have e-mail addresses with a domain name that reflects their business name--without the hassles of doing it all in-house. Taking this route may give you more time you can dedicate to growing your business or focusing on other, profit-centered IT projects, such as e-commerce.

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This article was originally published in the July 1999 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: You've Got Mail.

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