One of the things many entrepreneurs forget to factor in is the equipment needed to run a successful small business. Even small things such as a multi-line phone system can mean the difference in keeping a potential client and losing them to a competitor. Other things may not be necessary but will help ramp up productivity.
What Tools Do I Need to Run a Business?
The United States Small Business Administration recently released their most current state profile information on small businesses in America. There are approximately 33.2 million small businesses in the country. Each type has specific needs, so the tools to run one may differ from the tools to run another.
However, there are some tried and true pieces of equipment nearly any type of small business needs to thrive.
1. Shipping Tools
If you’re selling a product, then shipping tools are vital. However, even service-based companies need a way to mail out contracts and manuals. Not all of your clients will want to access material online.
At a minimum, you need a table where you can package items up, envelopes, tape, a scale to weight packages and a way to print postage. The USPS now makes it possible to print postage onto a label and have items picked up at the office. Invest in a label printer to make the process easier and avoid wasted paper and time spent cutting along dotted lines.
No matter what type of business you run, you will need computers. Even if you sell a digital product, you’ll need to list and promote it via a notebook or personal computer (PC).
Your first instinct may be to invest in top-of-the-line equipment, but you should first consider what you’ll use the machine for. If you only plan to do some light promotion and answer emails, you may not need a machine powerful enough to create and edit videos.
Weigh your needs against your budget before choosing a computer. For example, workstations offer faster and larger drives, multiple processor cores and better meet graphic needs. A desktop PC won’t have as much accessible memory to complete heavy-duty visual tasks.
Similar to the PC, you need a printer for the times you do need a hard copy of something. You might want to print out an agreement while meeting with a client so they can have a copy and everyone can sign it on the spot.
Printers are one of those things you might not think you need until you need it. They are inexpensive enough that you should be able to invest in several. Your only decision will be if you need faster, laser printer capabilities or if a simpler inkjet printer might work. Another option is to add a thermal printer for the labels you’ll create at your shipping station.
Did you know that poor lighting can intensify fatigue and cause headaches? If your workspace is dark, add artificial lights to brighten it up. Whenever possible, get rid of curtains or window coverings and brighten a space up.
No one wants to feel as though they’re working in a dungeon. Instead, use light colors on the walls, add floor and ceiling lights and do your best to bring the outdoors inside.
5. Phone System
No matter what type of company you own, customers need a way to get in touch with you. If you are a solopreneur, a cell phone with a dedicated number may be all you need. There are several apps that allow you to give customers a number they call so you can see if messages are business or personal.
If you need a phone in your office, look into a multi-line system, so your clients don’t get a busy signal when phoning. At a minimum, send them to voicemail so you can immediately return their calls.
Brainstorm Your Needs
Take the time to think through what you do on a typical day as a business owner. What machines would make your life easier and speed up your efficiency? Once you have an idea of the basic equipment, you may add a few special items related only to your industry.
Eleanor Hecks is the editor-in-chief of Designerly Magazine. She’s also a web design consultant with a focus on customer experience and user interface. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and dogs, Bear and Lucy. Connect with her about marketing, design and/or tea on LinkedIn.