Which Office 365 Subscriptions Do I Need for My Small Business?
If you’ve landed on this page you have probably heard a bit about Office 365 or been told that you should start using it. You may be using free email addresses which have been OK but you want more than just email. You may want shared Calendars, Shared email boxes, somewhere to store personal documents and somewhere to store documents which everyone can see and access. Maybe you also want a way to communicate with the team in the office or with employees out on the road via their mobile phones.
We’ll the next step for you is to move to a proper business platform like GSuite or Office 365. Both offer apps and web pages which give you all of the above and both do a great job.
I’m a Microsoft guy, I know how Word, Excel and Outlook work, its what I know and likely what you know too. If that’s the case you want Office 365, Its awesome so good choice!
Which subscriptions do a typical 1-50 employee business use?
OK so your going to run your business systems on Office 365 so next you need to decide which subscriptions you will be using. There are a few to choose from and some can cost quite a bit every month.
Below I will discuss the two most common subscriptions used by small businesses from 1 employee up to 300. 300 is the maximum number of users supported on the small business packages. If you have more than 100 employees I would typically recommend an E3 or E5 subscriptions, you can review those here.
Most of my own small business clients are below 100 users, typically 1-30 employees and all use a mixture of two subscriptions. They use Office 365 Business Premium for all normal employees who need access to email and company files. For remote employees who only need access to email they use Exchange Online Plan 1.
There are other subscriptions such as Office 365 Business and Office 365 Business Essentials but they don’t include everything you need to run your business such as access to the office programs or somewhere to store company files used by everyone.
I just need web based email
If you literally just want a few email addresses like email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. Then you can purchase an Exchange Online Plan 1 subscription.
This gives you web based email, so a mailbox for your employees, shared calendars but nothing else. You can setup the email on your mobile phones using the built in email program. If you have an iPhone or Android based phone then its no problem, you can setup the email programs to send and receive emails.
If you already have Office on your computer you can connect Outlook up and access your email that way too. If you don’t already have office then you can use the email web page to access your emails.
You wont get anywhere to store your files (OneDrive / SharePoint) and you wont get any of the chat services like Skype or Teams.
- Web based email
- Access to email on mobile phones
- You can connect Outlook on your Mac or PC if you already have Office installed (Office is not included).
- Shared email boxes
- Shared calendars
Does NOT include:
- Office programs
- Any ability to chat with your employees (Skype / Teams)
- Anywhere to store files in the cloud (OneDrive / SharePoint)
- Plus lots of other useful services
I need the full office programs, Word, Excel and Outlook. I need Email, shared calendars, somewhere to store personal files. I need somewhere to store company files which all employees can access and update. I need a way to communicate with the whole team using online chat.
OK that’s quite a list but its no problem, Office 365 has a subscription called Office 365 Business Premium. This subscription gives all employees the ability to install the latest version of the Office programs (Word, Excel, Outlook, OneNote, PowerPoint). It gives them all an email address and a calendar. They all get somewhere to store personal files in the cloud. They can access a central store of company documents which everyone can see and update. They can even talk to each other using the Skype or Teams apps.
- Everything from Exchange Online Plan 1 above
- You can install Office applications onto 5 of your own computers (Office computer, Home computer, Laptop etc)
- Skype or Teams for sending instant messages to employees on their computers or mobile phones.
Does NOT include:
- Access or Publisher applications
- Other advanced features (Typically not used by small businesses)
Cutting to the chase if you are a small business 1-100 employees use Office 365 business premium. It includes the Office programs you need such as Work, Excel and Outlook. It includes and email address for all employees and free shared email addresses for things like accounts@ info@ complaints@ etc. Employees get somewhere to store personal files in the cloud and they also get somewhere to store files which everyone else can access (Shared company files). They also get Skype or the Teams app so all employees can talk to each other from where ever they are in the world.
Its one of the greatest and most flexible Office 365 subscriptions for small businesses to use and the price is quite reasonable.