• business and office supplies
In the area of hardware, today's computers have advanced to the level that you could likely run a small country from a laptop or iPad. That's not to say that you need an iPad, or even a laptop. In fact, as long as you have a PC or Mac, a printer, and dependable internet access, you've got the basics covered. You may also want to look at a mobile phone or iPad that will allow you to get online when you're on the road – provided that you do actually head out on the road. If you're strictly desk-bound, skip the portable devices and invest instead in the latest software to help you keep track of your business.
Software comes in a number of flavors. For most small businesses, you'll need:
• A word processing program. MicrosoftOffice Word is standard, but OpenOffice (available for free online) is a cost-free and versatile option.
• An accounting program. On one end, you can keep track of your budget and spending with a simple spreadsheet. If you want more bells and whistles, try Quicken or Quickbooks.
You may also want to consider a graphic design program. Even if you outsource all your graphic design needs, you may still will want the ability to make small adjustments (price, etc.) to your “Buy Now” buttons, easily handled with Photoshop Elements. If you want to be able to design your own pamphlets, brochures, PDFs and more on your Mac, check out Apple's Pages.
The good news about technology is that it's readily available and relatively inexpensive. The bad news is, the new versions come so fast and furious that no sooner have you invested in the latest and greatest, than it's already obsolete! But before you plunk down your credit card to upgrade, ask yourself:
• Is not having this holding me back?
• What am I hoping to do that I cannot do now?
• How much will it cost me to upgrade?
• If I make this investment, how long until it pays off?
• Do I have the cash to pay for this?
If your answers to the above questions are satisfactory, go ahead and invest. Do your research online to find specials or the best deal, and after you make your purchase, see if there is an affiliate program. If so, sign up as an affiliate and tell others about your recommendations. That way you can convert your expense into a revenue stream – and get a gift that keeps on giving all year long!