Tech is a necessity for any business, so much so that we often fail to calculate what we need when starting a new business. Computers, phones, and tablets are so common that we often do not budget for them.
When starting a business, look through this list and take into consideration what you will need. Most of these seem self-explanatory, but many are often overlooked by new business owners.
Computer hardware is one of the first things you need to research for your business. What you need will vary depending on your industry, but generally, you will need a computer, server (or cloud account – see “Computer Software” below), and printer.
Some businesses will require more. An example is In-N-Out Burger, which uses tablets to take customer orders in their drive thru. Quantity is also something you need to consider.
How many computers? Do you need printers for all of them, or can you share one? Do you need a printer at all?
There are many questions you need to ask to determine what exactly you need. However, if you do not budget for computer hardware, you will be in for a huge sticker shock when you finally go to make a purchase.
Software is very important, as computers, tablets, and smartphones would be useless without it. Twenty years ago, most software was installed when you bought a computer. That is no longer the case.
There are too many software solutions available to make them standard on computers. Each business will need to purchase software specific to its industry. Some of the standard software applications include Microsoft Office, QuickBooks, and software to secure your system from hackers.
I would also recommend using cloud computing, as it can save you money.
“An advantage of cloud computing is the reduction in hardware cost,” says Technology Advice contributor Kyle Turco. “Instead of purchasing in-house equipment, hardware needs are left to the vendor. For companies that are growing rapidly, new hardware can be large, expensive, and an inconvenience. Cloud computing alleviates these issues because resources can be acquired quickly and easily. Even better, the cost of repairing or replacing equipment is passed to the vendors.”
Outside of hardware and software, you need to have a Website for your business. If you think you don’t need one, just keep in mind that your competitors have one. The majority of marketers agree that you need a Website if you are a small business.
“Having a Website has allowed me to more than double my leads,” says Keller Williams realtor Mariam Faltas. “Everyone is online, and you must have a Website to be able to market to them.”
You need to be aware that you can’t just simply sign up for a Blogger or WordPress account and create a simple Website. You must make sure to meet the requirements for search. This includes making your Website mobile-friendly, especially since mobile searches now surpass desktop searches.
Your Website appearance is also important, and it is recommended that if you have a bad Website, you should have no Website at all. This is according to Forbes contributor Nicole Leinbach-Rehle, who writes, “Whether you are a one man or woman show or operate with 100 employees, your Website should appear as if you have a team dedicated exclusively to keeping your online presence strong and noteworthy.”
IT Support Staff
If you are not in a business required to have an IT department, you should still have access to IT help. That means getting someone on contract whom you can call in the event something crashes.
“Nothing can be worse than trying to run your business when your computer goes down,” says Max Clemons, from data-management firm Altium. “You need to have access to everything you need to run your business. This can be especially frustrating for retail businesses that use cloud-based point-of-sale software. If you can’t access the software, you can’t make any sales.”
Putting what Clemons says into perspective, think about the type of business you run. Even self-employed freelancers need to be able to access technology. For instance, Uber drivers would be out of luck if they are in an area without a good wireless network (they would not be able to access their database and, therefore, know where to pick up passengers).
The type of technology you need ultimately depends on the type of business you are running. However, this will give you a general idea of what to consider when putting together your business plan. Remember that failing to budget for technology can be a killer for you, as it can get expensive.
Brian Horvath is a freelance writer from Michigan and founder of MyBusinessTalk. He is a journalism graduate and a regular contributor to numerous online magazines and journals.