Business and Technology - Hand in Hand?
When you start a new business, most likely you are going to be overwhelmed by the vastness of all the available technology. It might seem that business and technology go hand in hand, but there are many technologies that you might be able to go without - depending upon the type of business and your business plan. When determining what technology your business will require, look at other businesses of your type and the types of technology they have. Make a list of items you need now, and items that can wait until later. When making this list, here are some suggestions for technological items every business should have, regardless of industry.
Phone and Answering Machine
It seems to go without saying, that a phone and answering machine are standard business fare - but there are so many different options available that making the decision can be overwhelming. Here’s a low-down of the various options for your business:
- The Land Line and an Answering Machine - The land line phone is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Even so, if you conduct business in an office, you may want to still invest in the land line phone. If the power goes out, the internet is down, or you forget your cell phone, you will need a way for clients to get a hold of you. Go simple here. If you want to be able to walk around your office, purchase a cordless model, if you want to talk on the phone, hands free, get a headset. Your answering machine should be reliable.
- The Cell Phone or Smart Phone - While Smart Phones are the trend at the moment, and seem to be a necessary part of doing business in the fast-paced world of Web 2.0, they are not necessary if you are looking for places to cut back on your business startup costs. You may find a good deal on a WinMo phone for your business, but be sure to do the necessary calculations. Don’t forget to add in the cost of your monthly plan through the duration of your contract. On that note - be absolutely sure before signing a contract for a cell phone that you will receive good reception from that service in the areas you work most.
- Skype - Once you have an internet connection in your office, you can use Skype for long distance calls and save money on this expense. A word of warning before you run out and sign up for Skype: Any time you are without internet access you will also be without a phone. Be absolutely sure you have a backup.
Read on to page 2 to find out about computer and printing options for your new business.
Image courtesy of sxc.hu/marcio510
Computer and Internet
Another necessary technological item every business should have is a computer and access to the internet. Without a computer and access to the internet your business will start out behind other companies. In order to promote your business and communicate with clients you will need a computer and internet access (even if it’s internet access inside a cafe with free wi-fi). Here’s the low-down on the computer technology decisions you will have to make:
- Mac or PC? The answer to this question will depend upon your industry and personal preference. Some people are “Mac” people and some people are “PC” people. The suggestion here is to go with the industry standard. Graphic designers, artists, and those in film will want to go with the Mac. PC’s are standard in technology consulting and many other fields.
- Desktop, Laptop, or Netbook****? This again will depend largely on personal preference. A laptop is an outstanding choice, especially if you will be operating as a mobile office. Netbooks are great on the go, but they do not offer a lot of storage, so you will want a desktop in your office. Make sure you have enough RAM so your computer will smoothly operate your OS. You will also want enough hard drive storage to cover all of your projects.
- Internet - This is an area you do not want to skimp in - especially if you will be operating a website or doing work over the web. Buy the fastest and most reliable internet option you can afford.
Image courtesy of sxc.hu/gallery/sgback
Printers, Copiers, Scanners and Fax Machines
When you are starting out, you really just need a printer. But, if you have a little extra sitting around, I would suggest getting an all-in-one unit. These won’t cost too much more than a simple printer - and they will help you meet your scanning, printing, copying and faxing needs, thus saving you money in the long run if you decide to upgrade your technology. If you are sure you won’t do much faxing or copying, you may be able to get away with a good quality printer and a visit every once in a while to your local copy shop.
Website and Personalized Email
Finally, every startup business should have a website and an email personalized to that website. It helps your potential clients and customers to take you seriously. Don’t use Geocities or other websites that keep their names in the title - shell out a little bit for a custom website, you can purchase a domain name for under twenty dollars if you do your research. Create a quality and professional looking website. Finally, you can use tools at Google to help you set up a custom email address to match your website address. This way you are ready to do business in a professional manner.