Many small businesses start without a computer and then add one later. When asked “why a computer?” the usual answer has something to do with a way of helping the business.
So you have bought a computer, now what? What are small business computers good for?
Think of the tasks you need to do to keep your small business making money.
- Advertising and promoting your products and services.
- Communicating with customers.
- Retaining customer information.
- Researching, prospecting and creating new opportunities.
- Managing the books.
The computer you bought probably is a Windows-based PC unless you are one of those arty types. Then you probably bought a Mac. Most retail computer stores offer you a package when you buy a computer. This package always includes the computer operating system. If a PC, the operating system is Windows XP or the latest Windows release of Vista. For the small budget purchaser, the operating system may be some form of desktop Linux, (Ubuntu is very popular). For Mac purchases the latest operating system is known as Mac OS X Leopard. Your bundle probably includes some kind of productivity suite. For the budget minded PC buyer using Windows, Microsoft Works may be the tool. For other PC buyers some form of the latest version of Microsoft Office may be pre-installed on your system. For the Linux user some open-source productivity tool such as OpenOffice may be installed. For Mac users the system may come with MacOffice or a version of Microsoft Office for Mac.
Every new computer sold comes with the ability to access the Internet and e-mail services through a telephone hookup. If it is a PC the Internet browser that comes with Windows is Microsoft Internet Explorer. For more adventurous users and Linux PCs, Firefox is a free download once you are connected to the Internet. For Mac users there is Safari.
Windows XP, MacOS and even Linux desktop systems come with lots of little tools and accessories, some highly useful, others colossal time wasters.
Some packages include a bundled printer with cable. The printer can be an inkjet or a laser. It can be colour or black and white. The printer can be an "all-in-one" tool that includes the ability to scan and copy, print and fax single or multiple page documents.
So with little knowledge or forewarning you suddenly find that you have to make a whole bunch of decisions about how to get value from these boxes that you have carried home or had shipped to you. It can be pretty intimidating, pretty confusing, and wasteful of your precious time when you have to put everything together, hookup your telephone, configure your computer system and then once it all works, figure out what you intend to do with the damn thing.
So that's what this blog is going to address: what is essential to help your small business get a return on your computer investment.