(Photo Credit: Kim Komando)

There are two necessary components to getting business done on the internet: bandwidth and speed. If you don’t have both, you just as well have neither. By the novice, they are often conflated as if they were the same thing. They most certainly are not.

Bandwidth represents the amount of stuff you can send and receive over the internet. Businesses tend to need quite a bit of it. Speed is a matter of how fast you will go through that bandwidth. You can’t stream a 4K movie without lots of bandwidth. But unlimited bandwidth doesn’t mean a thing if you don’t have enough speed to play the movie smoothly.

Because many ISPs offer unlimited, or near unlimited service, the question of bandwidth is all but moot. Speed is another matter. Don’t be fooled by unlimited. You have to be aware of the speed being offered. It is better to have metered bandwidth at high speed than unlimited bandwidth at low speed Here’s why speed matters so much, and what you can do to get more of it:

Prioritize Speed

When you are choosing between service providers, prioritize speed over just about everything else. It is common for internet providers to promise more speed than they actually deliver. The very first thing you should do when you get new service is an internet speed test. Many pay for 50 Mbps down, but seldom get more than 20.

It is not that bandwidth is not important. It is just that most people don’t ever reach their bandwidth limits. They don’t even come close. So buying more of it doesn’t help. Prioritize speed when you change service providers. Then make sure you are actually getting the speed they promise.

Your Business Depends on Speed

Everything you do in your business depends on speed. Doing research takes time. It takes forever when your internet is slow to load the thousands of webpages you will be visiting. VoIP communications will be choppy without speed. Without a fast enough connection, you will not be able to collaborate over large image and video files. And you can forget about online meetings.

But one of the best reasons to get faster service for your business is customer service. When customers call in, they don’t want to hear that your computer is acting up, and that the service is a little slow today. That is a sign of incompetence that consumers are not so willing to forgive these days. They already had to wait on hold to reach a real person. The last thing they are going to tolerate is your slow system holding them up even longer.

Be Mobile Responsive

If you have the fastest speed offered in your area and it still isn’t fast enough, there are a few things you can do to optimize for speed. Top on the list is making your website mobile responsive. Many of your employees will be accessing your website from mobile devices, as will your customers. You should not assume that everyone will be using the latest I7 processors connected to a 27” monitor.

You will also want to redesign your website so that it is no longer dependent on plugins like Flash. Even Adobe is trying to kill Flash. You should be trying even harder. If your website is still too slow, you need to make some long and hard decisions about ads. There is a good chance you have too many of them cluttering your site. As for your internet connection, your speed will dramatically increase with the installation of an ad blocker.

Speed is crucial to your business. And you have to take it seriously. Do that by prioritizing speed when you change service providers. Allocate network use for business priorities. And eliminate plugins and excessive ads. Your speed has nowhere to go but up.