Starting a business can be a daunting undertaking with many considerations -- not the least of which is the sheer number of items you'll need in order to run the business smoothly. Among these items are various pieces of technology. But which do you really need?
Below, we give you the five essential pieces you're bound to require so you can start your new enterprise off on the right foot.
Whether you need one or 100 (or more), the computer is a vital piece of tech equipment for all businesses today. You might decide you want laptops for your venture; current models of most brands are lightweight, portable, capable of holding a battery charge for hours and available at multiple price points. Or you may prefer the cost savings and superior power of desktops. Or you might want hybrids, with their touch-screen capability and speed. Whichever you decide to go with, this is one category of equipment you can't choose to simply not have.
In that same category are our ubiquitous, handheld computers: our smartphones. Virtually nonexistent is the modern business person who does not have a smartphone. For this reason and others (cost, time) many businesses now have bring-your-own-device policies. BYOD may make sense for you as your business gets off the ground.
Network and internet
Of course, one of the reasons computers are so important for a business is their ability to connect you with people, organizations, and systems around the world in real time. So a network and internet connection is crucial. For this, you'll need a modem, router, and switches. Then you'll need to get online. For that, you'll need internet service from a provider.
Providers vary by region, and can set most everything up for you. For an additional fee, many will also rent you the equipment you'll need.
While more and more of what we do in business is done online, there's still a surprising amount that needs to be printed or even faxed. So it would be wise to invest in an all-in-one printer, a device that not only prints and faxes but also scans and is capable of emailing documents.
You can get a decent basic model from any of the big names in printing -- Canon, Brother, Dell -- for a few hundred dollars. Quality of different features varies by price (some will have better color, others faster printing speed, etc.) but whichever bells and whistles you do or don't choose, having a reliable all-in-one is a good way to prevent a headache down the road.
Given that most customers prefer to contact a business by phone than online -- and you're unlikely to want your personal cell phone to be the main contact phone for your business -- having a phone system in place will be crucial to your success.
But if you're looking for something a bit more current and less expensive than a landline, you might want to consider softphone, or software-based Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). With this technology, as long as you have high-speed internet, speakers, a soundcard and a microphone, you're in business. The advantages are of both the financial and expedient variety -- not only will you be saying goodbye to long-distance charges if you ditch the landline, but no matter where you are in the world, as long as you have internet, you'll have a dial tone. Plus, Zoom, Skype for Business and other VoIP platforms give you video capability, making setting up virtual meetings with people around the world possible in just seconds.
With VoIP in your office, you'll be needing one more accessory: good-quality headphones with built-in microphones. While a bottom-of-the-line headset will probably give you subpar sound quality, there's also no need to splurge here. Decent sets can be found for under $30.
Office space is essential for any business - and then you need to furnish that space and add essential equipment. Do you have a fear of commitment? Metro Offices can take care of most of this for you. Compare what it costs to run your own office vs. simply letting Metro Offices do the work for you.
Metro Offices is the leader in shared, temporary and virtual office space in the Washington, DC, area. Our multiple Metro-accessible locations in and around the District offer lightning-speed Wi-Fi, docking and charging stations, conference space, printing, scanning and more. Browse our locations today.