My Office Hardware Setup

I’m a huge advocate of starting small when it comes to starting a business.New Business Resources, dropbox, freshbooks, hostgator, bluehost, clio,

Early in a business’s life, it’s crucial that you keep your costs down and your expenses lean. Spending too much on startup expenses can spell the end of your business before you are ever really started.

This principle also applies when bringing on new workers. Spending too much on office space, computers, or printers (not to mention salaries), can spell doom.

But that doesn’t mean you can get away with spending no money. And in many ways, time equals money when it comes to the purchases you make.

For example, you can save $50 or $100 by buying a cheaper printer, but you will definitely save yourself time and frustration if you get yourself a reliable printer which won’t jam or break down frequently.

Why You Must Invest in Good Hardware For Your Business

When I started my business, I aimed to keep my recurring costs down, but I also knew I should make some significant investments for the sake of efficiency.

Below is a list of the major physical hardware items which I have purchased and have found I rely on almost every day in my business.

These are just my hardware purchases – the physical items I purchased for my office. In a few weeks, I am going to publish another post on what software I depend on, so keep an eye out for that.

Related reading: Six Indispensable Tools for a New Business Startup

(By the way, you should assume that some or all of these links are affiliate and/or paid links below. That is, if you click through and buy a computer from Amazon using my link, I may get a commission.  Having said that, I never recommend a product or service I haven’t used and/or am not intimately familiar with myself.  If you do click through my link and make a purchase, we appreciate it! Of course, you can always go directly to Amazon or some other website and buy the item without using my link if you prefer.)

Macbook computer ($1,200+)

My Apple Macbook computer is the most expensive piece of office hardware I own. Fortunately, I had just purchased a new Macbook about a year before I started my firm, so I didn’t need to buy a new one right off the bat.

Having said that, the decision to operate using a Mac has proven to be a slam dunk. I’ve never once had a problem with software incompatibility or problems with sharing documents or files with clients, attorneys, or other parties.

And my Macbook has been incredibly stable and nowhere near as prone to sudden crashing as my previous laptop, a Windows Vista machine. Since I opened my doors, I haven’t had to pay an IT professional to help me with any setup, maintenance or virus issues – not even once.

Every new piece of hardware or software has integrated with the Mac right out of the box, or with limited set up on my end – absolutely unheard of with my prior PC.

Sure, Macs are more expensive. However, I believe the additional cost of buying a Mac has paid off in spades in terms of saved time that could have been wasted dealing with IT issues.

27” Planar Systems VGA monitor ($249)

Another larger investment I made was in a larger second monitor to hook up to my laptop. I bought a Planar Systems PX2710MW 27-Inch VGA Monitor, which I think was $249 through Newegg.com.

This purchase wasn’t completely necessary, but when you spend 8-10 hours/day staring at a computer, it’s definitely appreciated.

In addition, I have tried to make my business as paperless as possible, so that means I’m often looking at documents on the computer screen rather than on paper. It’s useful to be able to have multiple windows open all at the same time, but to do that, you need to have a lot of screen space. This monitor has given me plenty of screen space to spare.

Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB Microphone For Podcasting ($43)

Earlier this year, I launched my first podcast. This is the microphone I’ve been using. It’s relatively cheap and produces nice sound.

I’m no expert in audio issues so mostly I was just happy it worked well and didn’t cost me too much.

Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500M high-speed scanner ($420)

This is one of the best investments I made. Although I had a scanner at home, I decided to buy a dedicated high-speed scanner for my office, and I’m glad I did. The multi-function machines are OK for scanner or copying in a pinch, but usually multi-function printers don’t do any one of its many duties well.

The ScanSnap is compact, sturdy, and reliable. It scans pages quickly and can deal with multiple pages stuffed into the machine – it reliably sorts them out. It recognizes double-sided documents and doesn’t scan blank pages (such as the back side of a printed page).

Between this scanner and a printer, I really don’t need a photocopier. Although there is a shared copier in my office suite, I have not used it once in a year and a half.

One of the best features is that it comes with a full version of Adobe Professional, which allows you to create and manipulate Adobe PDFs much more than you can with the free Adobe Reader installed on most computers. Incredibly, that software costs $339 for Mac and
and $397 for PC.  It’s like you are getting the scanner for free.

Brother printer HL-2270DW with double-sided printing ($132)

Brother HL-2270DW Printer

This is a nice and reliable printer for a reasonable price. There were less expensive printers but I wanted one with a large input tray so I wouldn’t have to refill the tray too frequently, and I wanted the ability to print double-sided.

The only thing I regret is I didn’t think I would need color, but in retrospect, I wish I did have color printing functionality on my printer. Nevertheless, this printer has done a decent job.

A Comfortable Computer Chair (I recommend spending $99+)

I definitely recommend locating the best office chair for your back you can find. When you are sitting for most of the day like I am, your back will thank you for keeping you comfortable.

There are a million flavors of Computer Chairs under the sun, so you can really take your pick.  Just don’t go cheap, OK?  Your back will thank you.

Another item you might consider is a stand-up computer desk. I haven’t used one personally, although I have worked with people who have  used stand-up desks and highly recommend them.

T-Mobile G2x Android phone ($220+)

I used an Apple iPhone before I started my firm, but the cost of monthly service from AT&T (which was the only provider for the iPhone at the time) was too much to swallow when I started working for myself. So I switched to T-Mobile, which my wife was using already.

For around $90 per month, we got unlimited minutes, texts, and data, and reliable (though not perfect) reception in our area for two people – my wife and myself. That monthly cost would have been twice as much if I had stuck with using an iPhone.

Our T-Mobile plan required you to provide your own phone, so I bought the G2x from the Gazelle store on eBay for around $220.

In addition, I wanted to try out using a phone with an Android operating system, which was created by Google, as I had heard they integrated more seamlessly with Google products and services than the iPhone has.

I’ve found that the Android is very fast and integrates really well with Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Maps, and other products I use on a daily basis. In addition, there is excellent integration with Google Voice, which I love because it transcribes, archives and emails all of my incoming calls.

Business Cards from Vistaprint ($10-$20)

Finally, this isn’t really a “hardware” item, but it is something you need when you start out. I ordered 500 business cards from Vistaprint, which allows you to easily configure a business card of your liking with their easy-to-use website.

Vistaprint advertises that you can get 250 cards for free, but they quickly try to upsell you to remove their logo from the back of the card, which is absolutely necessary anyways. You can pay more for extra writing on the back (which I recommend) or for higher quality paper (which I don’t). So you can expect to pay around $15-20 for 500 basic business cards, which is a good deal anyways.

I created a logo for my firm using a free online service (there are a bunch of them, including Logoease.com, onlinelogomaker.com, or logomaker.com), then I uploaded the logo to Vistaprint. You can also create a logo using Vistaprint, but I found their logos were too generic-looking.

 

Do you have any other suggestions for crucial hardware purchases for a new business? Let me know in the comments below!

 

Photo credit: Flickr/veryuseful

 

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