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Small Business Tech Equipment And Solutions That Won’t Break The Bank - FAD Magazine

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Small Business Tech Equipment And Solutions That Won’t Break The Bank

Launching a small business is a cash-dependent issue. Indeed, as a rule of thumb, the minimum budget for UK startups is around £5,000 for the launch. The average startup will spend between £20,000 and £25,000 in its first year. 

Less than half of small businesses manage to survive after 5 years. One of the most common reasons for business collapse is the lack of capital. Yet, when it comes to saving costs, businesses can’t afford to sacrifice tech equipment and solutions. Indeed, in a post-pandemic environment, digital technologies run most business processes and operations. So how does a small business manage to secure access to the right tech without breaking the bank? The answer will depend on its unique requirement. Yet, there are plenty of options to spend less without compromising quality.

Photo by Burst on Unsplash

Is a business phone necessary?

In most cases, professionals prefer using their personal phone numbers to retain their work connections. However, if your job involves spending a lot of time on the phone for management, sales negotiation, and administrative tasks, you may want to invest in a second hand iPhone. It will prevent unwanted work calls during your spare time. 

It is especially important to have two phones if your contacts are abroad, as they may be living in a different time zone. Nobody needs to receive calls in the middle of the night from international clients and suppliers! Another alternative to buying a physical business phone is using a redirect system that brings work calls to your personal phone. You can turn off the system when you are not at work. 

Which laptop investment is reasonable?

MacBooks are a popular choice for small businesses. Yet, depending on your business requirements, you may be able to save yourself money on IT equipment. Indeed, professionals who tend to work using cloud solutions rarely need to save or create documents on their hard drives. So, you could opt for a Chromebook instead, keeping IT costs low. Remember to add an antivirus and firewall solution, as even Chromebooks are vulnerable to cyberattacks!

Creatives, designers, programmers, and professionals who need a local network will prefer laptops with a hard drive capacity, more RAM, and higher specs. However, refurbished laptops and computers tend to be a great option as they are cost-effective and don’t compromise on functions. 

Should you invest in professional IT services?

Small businesses are more frequently targeted by cyber criminals than any other companies. On average, employees from small businesses will face up to 350% more cyber attacks than those in big companies. Indeed, while there may be more to gain from breaking through the defences of a large business group, small companies represent a considerably easier target. More often than not, small businesses decide against IT security services in an effort to save money. 

Unfortunately, it is a false economy. A data breach or corruption comes at a high cost and can put small businesses at risk of permanent closure. Therefore, investing in dedicated IT services, such as fully managed IT services, can prevent unnecessary risk exposure and protect your IT infrastructure. In an age where businesses risk losing money when they experience technical or cyber issues, it makes sense to partner with a specialist who can provide IT maintenance and protection at all times. Aside from cyber security, IT services can also ensure the following elements of day-to-day business:

  • Computers and laptops are up-to-date with the latest upgrades
  • Security weaknesses are identified in real time
  • Technical issues can be troubleshot and resolved quickly
  • Expert advising regarding IT investments and infrastructure for the business needs
  • Network maintenance, access, and management schedules

In the long term, managed IT services can be instrumental in saving costs and time for the company. 

Are there free digital tools small businesses can use?

There are numerous free tools that can drive your business presence online and support essential operations. 

SEO tools:

Google Analytics is a favourite for web traffic reporting and analysis. Google Analytics is entirely free — but there is also a paid model for large companies. Google also provides free training material to help business owners make the most of the tool. Additionally, the Google Analytics community is very active, so if you encounter settings or data capture problems, you are likely to find someone to help you. 

Google My Business is the platform that enables businesses to place their company on Google Maps. The platform is free to use for all. You will need to validate your contact details, typically using a postcard with a code sent to the business physical address. Your Google Maps presence will boost rankings in the search engine for local users. 

Google Search Console lets you share your website with Google. It works along with Google Analytics. Web admins can use the search console to upload their sitemap, helping the search engine index the website faster. You can also use the tool to monitor your impressions in search results, identify website-related issues, and improve your rankings. 

Google Adwords is also completely free to use; you only pay for your advertising budget if you start a campaign. You don’t need to start a paid PPC campaign to use Google AdWords functions, such as the keyword search tool. 

Social media:

Most social media platforms used by businesses are free:

  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Tiktok
  • YouTube
  • Discord
  • etc. 

You will need to pay only if you want to start a social media advertising campaign. As a business, you can set up your profiles and gain access to valuable data insights regarding your social media presence. 

Some of the preferred social media platforms for interactions with your customers are Instagram, Facebook Page, and Twitter. Twitter and Facebook Page let you handle customer queries and requests easily through the chat functions. 

Collaborative work:

Businesses can use Google Suite tools for free, such as Google Drive, Google Docs, Googlemail, etc. You can choose to buy a business account that lets you add more users to the same mail domain. Yet, the Google Suite can be entirely free for solo entrepreneurs if they choose to retain the @gmail.com domain. The Google Suite can also provide a cost-effective replacement to Microsoft Word, Excel, and Powerpoint, which require a paid licence. 

Are printers, scanners, and other IT equipment necessary?

More and more small businesses prefer a fully digital work environment. They do not need paper, which means they have no need to invest in a printing system. 

Smartphone cameras can replace scanner functions for ad hoc requirements. This can be the case to share physical documentation with suppliers, partners, or customers. Optimising your work for a digital environment will also reduce reliance on scanners. 

Unsplash – CC0 Licence

Do you need storage options for IT?

When it comes to data, the first and most important thing every small business must understand is the importance of backups. Working with a managed IT provider will ensure you can get a backup system in place. However, there may be situations when you need to use an external backup option:

  • You don’t have access to a digital backup space
  • You don’t have a secured digital connection (you are travelling)
  • You are concerned about a potential virus or cyber attack

Businesses can use an external hard drive for storage and ad hoc backup purposes. These are cost-effective and fully secure when they are not connected to a digital network. 

Small businesses also work extensively with cloud storage options, which come with integrated security functionality for a low fee plan. Microsoft One Drive, DropBox Business, and Amazon Drive are some of the most popular solutions starting at a low cost. 

In conclusion, while tech investments are necessary to launch your small business, there are many options for entrepreneurs to keep costs low until they are ready to grow their infrastructure and network. You can make the most of inexpensive and free tools and solutions without sacrificing security and functionality! 

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