Office technology encompasses a wide range of different devices. For instance, it might cover computers, printers, monitors, lights or even your kitchen appliances. When starting an office, one of the most expensive things we invest in is our technology. Without it, our business cannot operate like a modern company and we’ll fall behind our competitors. Technology is, without a doubt, a driving force behind every business be they large or small. It’s the ultimate business tool that helps us become more efficient and productive, but it doesn’t need to be as expensive as you think.
Paying too much for technology you don’t need
One of the main issues with the business approach to technology is that they often overpay for what they get. Business-grade hardware and software is expensive because they provide better quality services and features, but that doesn’t mean your company requires it.
One of the biggest examples of this is the difference between the many different versions of Windows. There are home editions, business editions, enterprise editions and even education editions. They all cost varying amounts of money, but what do they actually offer for your business? Windows 10 Home currently offers the best value for money and most startup and small businesses only need this. Windows 10 Professional, on the other hand, offers a few more security features for businesses that want to access their Windows applications across multiple devices. A good use case for this would be having a laptop, tablet and computer connected to the same account, allowing you to work from anywhere assuming you have a compatible device. The security features are also important for protecting files from hackers and even other members of staff.
Despite the increase in costs, many of the features would be wasted on small businesses that aren’t sure what they can do with more expensive versions of Windows. In short, if you’re paying a lot for
your operating system, then scale it down. If you don’t know the features of Windows 10 Enterprise over Windows 10 Professional, then you likely don’t need it. Once you grow into a larger business with more than a dozen computers at your disposal, then you might need to consider hiring a tech professional or IT specialist to optimise your network. Until then, stop paying too much for technology. Just because you’re a business, it doesn’t mean you need to buy business-grade software and technology.
Save money with resale value
Something that far too many businesses miss out on is resale value. Whenever you buy new office equipment, your outdated gear is typically recycled or kept in storage for safe keeping. Perhaps there is still sensitive data on things such as hard drives or maybe you keep your old hardware in case something breaks and you need spare parts. Although this is a fantastic idea for a frugal office, there are some compelling arguments against it.
First of all, new technology has a surprisingly low rate of failure. If there is a defect, it’s most likely down to your hardware setup, a flaky installation process or any number of other factors. Hardware failures due to a manufacturing defect are uncommon and there’s a chance you simply haven’t used the hardware properly. As a result, there’s no need to keep old and outdated hardware around. In fact, the longer you keep it around the less likely you’ll get a good resale value on them. If you want to recuperate your costs, then stop hoarding your hardware and search online for a bulk quote on used hard drives, server computers, keyboards, mice and any other computer hardware you might be saving. If you’re still a small business and you don’t have bulk hardware to sell, then you can always turn to another service such as eBay or Gumtree in order to get rid of clutter in your office.
One of the biggest concerns with reselling an item is the sensitive data on the hardware. If you hand your hardware over to a professional company then they’ll most likely wipe the data for you. Most companies that deal with used computer parts have strict guidelines to follow when it comes to privacy so there’s nothing to worry about. However, if you sell it to other offices or people over a service like eBay, then there’s no guarantee they will respect your privacy and wipe the data before looking at it. Ensure that all your sensitive business data is deleted and that the computer is formatted before you sell it.
Learning to do more with less
One of the best ways to save money on your technology is learning how to make the most of it. As mentioned before, many people spend far too much on their technology and fail to make the most of it. They’re lured in with big industry-leading brands and they’re fooled by “specialists” that recommend the best and most expensive item in the store just because every other major company uses it. It’s a horrible mentality that forces clueless startups to use more money than they should on pointless features and additions, so here are a couple of tips to help you make the most of your technology.
Firstly, let’s talk about outdated computers. Some startups might resort to buying second-hand hardware or asking their employees to bring in their own laptops in order to get started. While this is a very cheap way to start up a business, it can often lead to some incompatibilities with software and operating systems. However, a simple way to get around this is to use cloud software such as Google Docs and Dropbox. Google Docs gives people a simple way to create and share documents over the internet without hassle. This means you don’t need to spend expensive money on things such as Office 365, it means you don’t need an expensive or complicated office network setup to share files,
and it means anyone can use whatever device they want to start working. In a sense, they can bring in their own laptop or even tablet device, plug in a keyboard and start working.
Of course, this only works if the work you do is primarily focused on office work. If you use other specialised programs such as Adobe’s Creative Cloud suite, then you’ll need to shell out a lot of money to get industry-standard tools. However, if you’re feeling frugal, then there are other alternatives. For almost every expensive subscription-based software out there that businesses use, there is most likely a free and open source alternative available. Open source essentially means that all the code for the program is available for free, essentially making the program itself free. A great example of this is GIMP, short for GNU Image Manipulation Program. It’s a free alternative to Adobe Photoshop, it has a lot of support, and works across many different operating systems.
To summarise this section, if you want to make the most out of your technology then you need to learn how to stretch it. Don’t jump straight to the industry-standard tools and don’t invest ridiculous amounts of money into subscription fees and other kinds of expenses that you don’t need. Learn to be frugal with your hardware and software, and learn the value of what you have instead of throwing money at a problem.
The value of buying refurbished
As mentioned briefly before, a lot of startups tend to buy second-hand or refurbished hardware so that they have lower startup costs. However, this is often seen as a gamble because there’s no telling how much life is left in a used computer. This is what most people assume, but in reality, there’s actually a very low chance of something going wrong with a refurbished computer.
Refurbished and used are two different terms that people often confuse. This is due to the fact that they’re accidentally used as interchangeable terms despite meaning completely different things. First of all, used means that the item has previously been used and that’s where the description ends. It’s most likely in working condition but there’s no guarantee on the quality of the item. When you buy refurbished, it’s not just used and sold, but it’s also repaired, maintained and fixed to a working order which is close to the original. Parts might have been replaced, the insides are cleared of dust, it’s tested to ensure it’s in working condition, and there are even warranties attached to refurbished products.
This is why buying a refurbished product is a bit more expensive than buying used, but it’s also a lot cheaper than buying factory new. Refurbished products such as printers, laptops, phones and even computers are perfectly fine for business use. When you’re a large business that demands efficiency and peace of mind, buying everything factory new is understandable. However, when you’re a small startup or a medium-sized business with a limited budget, buying refurbished is a lifesaver and in most cases, a lot more efficient than buying something new.
There are, of course, some technology items that you should never buy refurbished, but don’t be afraid to consider it as an idea. Don’t let others sway your opinion and if you have a budget, stick to it. You don’t need to pay 10-20% more for an item just for peace of mind. Instead, pay 10-20% less knowing that someone has at least tested and used the product despite it being a little older.