Different industries require different tools. That said, there’s certain essential hardware that every modern business needs.
This guide lists some of this essential hardware, as well as tips on exactly which type of device to choose.
The most essential piece of hardware you need is a phone.
Smartphones are the most versatile option - you can make and take calls from any location, while also allowing you to take on digital basic tasks. In fact, there are many people who have started a business with nothing but a smartphone (although it’s recommended you invest in a few extra bits of hardware if you want your business to really succeed).
Most people already own a smartphone, however it’s worth buying a separate phone for business use so that you can more easily separate your business and personal life. There are business smartphone contract plans that you can take advantage of with perks such as extra data and reduced charges abroad.
When buying a smartphone for business, you may want to consider buying a few extra accessories. These include:
On top of a smartphone, you may want to consider other phone options.
For example, many business owners still like to invest in a landline phone handset - you’re guaranteed a much more secure line when using a landline phone than a cell phone. Landline phones can come in all forms, including options with multiple extensions and phone menus.
VoIP handsets are another option. These are shaped like traditional landline phone handsets, but use an internet connection to make and receive calls. VoIP phone calls can also be answered on other devices.
Most basic admin tasks can be done on a smartphone. However, there are many tasks that are much better suited to a purpose-built computer due to the larger screen size and better processing power (e.g. word processing, accessing large files, video editing).
Of course, when choosing a computer, there are different solutions to consider. The three main types of computer device include desktops, laptops and tablets.
Why choose a desktop?
When it comes to running powerful software, a desktop tends to be the best option. While you can find high performance laptops capable of running such software, they tend to be very expensive compared to desktops of the same capability.
Desktops are a great option if you only need to work from one location. In fact, some entrepreneurs love them, because they ensure that work stays in the office. It’s possible to buy or lease these computers.
If you choose a desktop, there are a few accessories you’ll want to buy:
Why choose a laptop?
Laptops are built to be portable. You can do pretty much all the tasks you would on a desktop, while having the flexibility to work from any location - whether that be your living room, a coffee bar or a park bench. Compared to tablets, they’re a lot more powerful.
As mentioned already, if you need a high-performance computer, you’ll pay more for a high performance laptop than a PC of the same capability. Laptops also have their limits when it comes to portability - you can’t use them standing up (unlike a tablet).
Laptops have built-in touchpads, monitors and speakers, however you may still want to invest in certain accessories. This could include:
Why choose a tablet?
A tablet can be used while standing up, which gives it added portability. You can more easily show clients and employees information and you can even get them to sign contracts electronically. Tablets tend to also have a longer battery life than laptops.
Tablets aren’t as powerful as laptops - while there are some high-performance ones, they aren’t nearly as capable as the most powerful laptops. Some software programs may not be available as apps or may only have limited features. You should consider the demands of your business before solely working from a tablet - many entrepreneurs prefer to own a tablet and a desktop/laptop.
Tablets have in-built screens, in-built speakers and touchscreen keyboards. However, as with other computer devices, there are a few accessories you may want to invest in when buying a tablet. These include:
All three of these computer devices - desktops, laptops and tablets - come with in-built microphones and cameras. However, some business owners may prefer to buy extra camera or microphone accessories for improved clarity. It depends on how likely you are to conduct regular video calls.
To run a modern business, you need internet access. While it’s possible to rely on public wi-fi or cellular broadband, having your own private internet connection can be more convenient for when you need a secure, reliable connection.
The type of router you need depends on the types of tasks you’ll be doing, the amount of devices that need to be connected at once and the range you need to cover. In most cases, you’ll want a wireless router so that you don’t have to plug in devices. It’s worth shopping around to find the best internet provider and router deal.
There are various accessories you may want to buy for your router:
It’s possible to also buy portable routers that can be taken to any location with you, providing you with constant private wi-fi. Some modern vehicles have in-built private routers, which could allow you to access the internet from your vehicle (useful if you often travel to see clients by road).
Data storage devices
Storing data exclusively on your devices isn’t recommended. When it comes to increasing your storage space, sharing data between devices and backing up data, you need another solution.
Many businesses have now started outsourcing cloud storage space. This involves storing all your data on a remote server. This can save you having to buy your own server and can give you the flexibility to access your data from any location on any device.
Some businesses are able to get by just using the cloud, however as an extra backup option and storage solution it could be worth looking into local data storage devices.
A local server is the most heavy-duty option. These can be bought or rented. For small businesses, there are many affordable local server options. When it comes to hosting powerful applications or websites, you may want to buy a larger and more high-end server.
An external hard drive could be another option. This will store less data than a server and can only be accessed by one device at a time, but could be all you need if you’re running a solo business.
USB flash drives are the cheapest and smallest option. You won’t be able to store much data on these, but they can be useful for transferring small amounts of files between devices or for backing up your most important files.
A lot of companies are going paperless nowadays, however paper documentation hasn’t completely been erased. There could be times when you still need to print off or copy a physical document. In these instances, it’s still useful to own a printer and a scanner.
Dual-purpose printers/scanners can carry out both functions, preventing you from having to buy two separate devices. Most companies may only require a basic solution. More high-end options can offer faster printing and better quality scanning.
It’s possible to buy wireless portable printers and scanners. If you’re often travelling to different locations and you need to print/scan documents, these could be a worthy investment.
WRITTEN BYSerena K. Johnson