We live in a very technological age, and if you are running or starting a small business, more than likely, you will be using a computer to help maintain financial records, perhaps generate invoices, and many other business tasks. There are many options available to Small Business Owners to choose from to best meet their technological needs. While many big box stores are selling computers and computer hardware at very low costs, these machines often come with little or no support available from the retailer, and if warranty repairs are required, it is often necessary to place your machine, along with all of your valuable business data in a box and ship it to the manufacturer to have the issues addressed. This could leave you and your small business without your computer for several weeks, or even months. Also, many times, major brand name computer manufacturers use non standard custom made parts in their computers and can be very expensive to repair or upgrade. Because of these issues, I would recommend partnering with a local computer manufacturer or consulting firm to help you best establish your technology infrastructure in such a way as to best meet both your current and future business needs. Many of these local computer manufacturers are experienced working with small businesses, and may even be able to provide help with your software needs as well.
When choosing computers for your small business, there are many things to consider. I would recommend using a higher end computer or laptop in an effort to extend the life of the machine and make it last as long as possible. This will help avoid the disruption to your business that comes with replacing computer systems. When replacing a Small Business computer, it is necessary to install the new hardware, and then install all of the business software and migrate data to the new machine. Depending on the type and amount of data, this can be a very time consuming and costly procedure and can also render your computer unavailable for use by your business during this time. By choosing a more powerful computer initially, and allowing clear hardware upgrade paths, you can minimize this disruption. Choosing a computer for your Small Business that is more powerful with clear upgrade paths will also help to avoid the disruption that comes with the need to learn a new operating system or software package. Hardware and software are tied together, and when replacing a computer, it is often necessary to upgrade to the latest operating system because that is all that is available. This can then lead to compatibility issues with other software that may be used by your Small Business. There is also the possibility that devices such as printers or scanners will no longer be compatible as well and will need to be replaced. This is why you are much better off simply choosing a more powerful computer for your small business and minimizing the need for frequent upgrades to help ensure the smooth flow of your business.
Depending upon the size of your business, and the number of computers that are needed, you may need to consider a network. A network in it’s simplest from consists of several computers connected together either with wires, or wirelessly in such a way as to allow them to share resources. These resources can consist or data, printers, or even an Internet connection. This can be a very convenient method of allowing users to share information. Depending upon the number of computers you have for your small business, you may want to consider purchasing a server to manage everything and provide centralized backup. I have detailed in this article: (Building a Home or Small Office Server) some of the arguments for installing a server for your Small Business.
You will most likely also have the need to print while running your small business. Choosing a printer can seem very complex with the options that are available today, but in reality, it comes down to a matter of several simple choices. Does you small business need a simple printer, or a multifunction device that can also function as a scanner, copier, and possibly even a fax machine? After you have made the decision between printer or multifunction device, next you must consider if you exclusively need to print black and white, or if you will have the need to print color documents as well. A black and white or monochrome printer will be significantly cheaper than a color printer, and while you may be tempted to save money, if you foresee a need for color printing in the future, if may be a better decision to purchase a color printer initially than to purchase a monochrome printer only to need to purchase additional equipment in the future. The third major decision that you need to make when purchasing a printer for your small business concerns the volume of material that you expect to be printing. If you only expect to print a few hundred pages a month, perhaps you are suited best with the lower cost inkjet printer. If however, you foresee printing relatively large numbers of pages, you will be much better choosing a laser printer for your small business. While there is additional cost involved in purchasing a laser printer, a laser printer is much cheaper to operate and will pay for itself over time. A laser printer often produces higher quality prints as well, and copies produces by a laser printer will not smudge or run in the event they ever become damp or wet.
As you can see, there are many decisions that go into developing a technology plan for your small business. Careful thought should go into this process along with research to determine what will best suit the needs of your small business both now and in the future. Technology should be helpful and integrate into your business to help it grow. Be careful however to select a technology path that is both useful and usable within your business environment. Technology should never be a hindrance to your business, and you should never invest in technology simply for the sake of technology. If an individual piece of hardware or software does not have a clear purpose at the time of purchase, it is often better to forgo purchasing it, rather than later trying to integrate it into your business in some way as a means of justifying the purchase. A reputable consulting firm can help you evaluate your business and better determine your business needs with a more in depth knowledge of the current technology that is available. If however, you are uncomfortable with the recommendations that are provided for your small business, do not hesitate to contact another technology provided to receive a second opinion. Any technology investment can be a very significant expense to your small business, and making wise decisions can help your small business grow and prosper and actually save money in time and efficiency.