Before a small business owner can get started, there are a many basic things that must be in place. Often a founder begins with his or her laptop and mobile device, with electronics like a printer or scanner coming soon after. Some entrepreneurs can work at an open office space where some of these electronics are provided for free, or for not much money. For others that option isn't available. Either way, once most of these basics are in place, entrepreneurs can start doing the work necessary to win customers and grow a base income.
Unfortunately, it can be all too easy for businesses to spend more money than they should in the early stages. Even as you watch your business grow, you can feel tempted to upgrade to the latest technology to stay ahead of the competition. To better position your business for success, it's better to make the right decisions from the start. Here are a few ways your small business can save money on the equipment you need to build a successful enterprise.
Use Personal Devices
In the early days, many professionals use the electronics they already own, since they usually at least have a smartphone and computer at home. Even after your business starts growing, you may opt to continue to maintain only one laptop and smartphone for everything. However, as you add employees, the question then becomes whether you should allow those workers to use their own devices. This can pose a security risk, so make sure you put policies in place that help protect any client data that resides on that equipment.
Set a Replacement Cycle
At one time, businesses felt the need to replace computers every three to four years. As technology has advanced, though, replacement cycles have lengthened a bit, especially for professionals who connect to the cloud for all their software and storage needs. If you wait too long between replacements, though, you could find productivity wanes as devices become sluggish and problematic. Increase your computer replacement cycle to five years and stretch your mobile device replacements to three to four years. Monitor performance in the final months to determine if you need to scale upward to ensure workers have the electronics they need to complete their daily tasks. During these extended replacement cycles, try to avoid temptation by not paying too much attention to those big Apple or Google announcements when they happen.
Refurbished equipment gets an inaccurately bad reputation. Experts often recommend shopping refurbished to save money. Apple, Amazon, Overstock and Best Buy are just some of the companies well known for their refurbished shopping options. From an equipment standpoint, refurbished can often be better, since resellers thoroughly test each device before putting it up for sale. Since many manufacturers also offer a warranty with this type of equipment, you'll have the same protection you'd have if you were buying brand new without the hefty price tag.
When it comes to technology, there will always be a segment of the population who buy the latest model of any device on release day. Those same people usually finance that purchase by selling their old equipment, often when it's only a year or two old. By buying used, you could save hundreds of dollars while still getting a piece of equipment that will give you years of use. Make sure you buy only from reputable sellers who offer at least a one-year warranty on your purchase and you can't lose.
Sell Old Electronics
Usually when you buy a new piece of equipment, you have an old device that needs to be offloaded. Discarding electronics can be tricky, since you're required to dispose of them in a responsible manner. Instead, you should consider selling old laptops, desktops, smartphones, and tablets. Then put the money back into your budget. Many national big-box electronics retailers will offer cash or gift cards in exchange for used devices. There are also a few online retailers who specialize in buying old devices. Shop around for the best deal.
Rely on the Cloud
Software can be a considerable expense for a growing business, but with cloud technology, you can minimize that cost by paying small monthly subscriptions. Cloud connectivity will also save you money on hardware purchases, since you'll be able to work with a minimal amount of storage. Reliance on the cloud also means that if a piece of equipment breaks, you'll be able to continue working without losing the files and software you rely on to conduct daily operations.
Maximize Tax Savings
At tax time, businesses can take a substantial hit on the income they've brought in throughout the year. The best way to reduce that amount is by having as many deductions as possible. Check for any tax credits your business can enjoy, in addition to claiming each piece of equipment as an expense. Make sure you also track your software and storage expenditures, since those are tax deductible, as well.
Building a small business can be challenging, but frugal business owners can keep expenses at a minimum. With a low operating spend, a company can grow more quickly, since more of every dollar that startup earns will stay in the "income" column. There are so many affordable technology options available to business owners that it can be easy to save hundreds of dollars on each purchase.