Starting a Small Business – Part 1 – Computers, Printers, Office Stuff

Every small business needs…

You could argue that your business doesn’t really need a computer because you already have a super-powerful smartphone.
You don’t need a printer because the world has gone paperless, the list goes on.
Well, this is rubbish, it’s just too difficult to run a normal small business without the essentials. Just try.

So, we all need a few basic pieces of equipment.

A Computer

Do I need a desktop, a laptop or a tablet?
These days, a desktop computer just seems like a waste of space.
In the past, a desktop computer was more powerful than a laptop. We could upgrade parts of it to keep it up to date as obsoletion slowly crept up on it. But today, as technology has gotten smaller and smaller, a laptop is as powerful as anyone could need. The level of computer power needed for everyday use can quite easily be covered by a laptop.

I’m a graphic designer, I use a few processing power-hungry applications like image manipulation & video editing software. I have a middle of the road laptop (Intel Core i5 8th Gen) and it works just fine. So, for whatever you are doing, then a laptop would be OK as far as I’m concerned.

I would always advise that you fill the laptop with as much RAM as you can afford as this makes day to day tasks much quicker. You can have more windows open without the laptop seeming slow.

Click here to use the crucial website to find out what your laptop has and how much it can be upgraded by.

Is a tablet good enough?

A tablet could well be powerful enough to run most of your day to day applications. It certainly can handle email well. But I think you will soon get annoyed at the on-screen keyboard when typing all day long. A Bluetooth tablet keyboard is a good solution if you are looking for something with a bit more feedback.

Where to buy your computer?

Money is a key factor for any new business. the less you spend, the better. but money is not the only thing you will be spending. You will be spending your time too.

An easy option would be to use Amazon to buy your computer or tablet, but is the best all-round?
But Amazon is not always the cheapest. Computers come in so many different configurations, it can be daunting.

You probably won’t be able to afford a backup device that sits there gathering dust just in case. So your computer needs to work, and if it goes wrong, you need to be able to fix it quickly.

I always get my computers from Currys PC World. They may cost a few pounds more than Amazon, but I can see them in the flesh, see all the special offers in one place. Their shelves show the laptops in price order so it’s easy to work your way up the prices to see what you can get for your budget. It’s easy to compare.

More importantly, you can take it back if something goes wrong. They will replace or repair, in-store. Sending something back to amazon can be time-consuming, and if you accidentally buy something from a 3rd party seller, things get even more complicated.

A Printer

Almost all printers are OK for what we need day to day. A printer scanner is far more useful than a simple printer. I usually buy the cheapest printer/scanner I can, either from Amazon or perhaps Robert Dyas if you want to see the item in person. At £30 to £40 for a basic printer, it’s almost not worth fixing if something goes wrong, so buying online is not an issue here. Keep an eye on the sales as you can easily get a bargain.

A colour inkjet printer is the most common and cost-effective solution for most small businesses.
If you only want black and white, or you do a lot of document printing, then you can get a better print quality from a laser printer. A black and white laser printer is not too expensive

You should pay attention to the ink that the printer uses. This will cost you far more in the long run than the printer itself.
A black & white printer will only use black ink, which is the cheapest option, but not necessarily the best.

A colour printer can use a few different types of cartridge, outlined here:

  • a black and combined cartridge.
    2 cartridges
    black + colour
    The colour cartridge combines cyan, magenta & yellow which on the face of it can seem like a good idea, but it’s not. one of the three colours will run out much quicker than the other two. this means you will replace the cartridge before it’s fully used. this is a waste.
  • a black, cyan, magenta & yellow cartridge.
    4 cartridges
    black + cyan + magenta + yellow
    This is the best option. You will only replace the cartridge when it has run out.
  • A black, cyan, magenta & yellow plus more cartridges
    6 + cartridges
    black + cyan + magenta + yellow + grey + photo blue etc.
    It’s not usually necessary to have a printer with these additional ink colours. These type of printer suggest that the quality and colour range is better. This may be the case, but do you need it? Probably not. You will only replace the cartridge when it has run out but you will need to do this for 6 cartridges rather than 4.

Buying Ink

If you can use non-genuine ink in your printer, then this is the way to save money. You will need to research the printer and the options, but if successful, the savings can be large.

Printer ink is often bought in bundles to save money. 2x black and 1x of the other 3 colours. This is a good way to save money, but can lead to you having the odd cartridge stockpile depending on the type of thing you print.

Office Stuff

The only office things that I care about are my everyday pen, pencil, pad and marker.
they are the things I use all of the time, so I want to be happy and comfortable with them.
If you are interested, I use:
Pen – Stabilo Worker, 0.5mm Medium Black – See here
Pencil – Uni, Kuru Toga 0.7mm – See here
Pad – A5 Rhodia square yellow paper – See here
Marker – Basic Sharpie – See here

The rest, you don’t need help with.

Click here to see Part 2 – Domain Names, Email, Websites

Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

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