Technology purchases can price a small start-up right out of business, but without those high-tech tools, most start-ups can't expect to compete in the global market. Is there an affordable solution? Consider banding with other start-ups and small businesses to share expensive technology hardware. You might also share the cost of hiring someone to manage the systems.

Sharing, it turns out, is one of the secrets behind Idealab, a start-up factory in Pasadena, Calif. Founder Bill Gross gathers Internet start-ups and plants them in his facility, where he runs office operations. Idealab companies share state-of-the-art equipment and services, including servers, high-speed digital phone lines, health plans, legal and accounting services, travel planning, and focus-group facilities. "I'm trying to factor out all the common business problems," Gross says. "But I leave in the individual companies just those things that are uniquely related to their businesses."