Starting a business? Here are some tips for getting your computer system up and running.
No matter the size, shape or style of your business - whether you are working from home or running a company - you're going to getting to know the ins and outs of computing a fair bit. Your computer is about to be your new best friend in business.
But it can be hard to know your pivot tables from your Facebook and Twitter. There's a lot going on with apps, software, hardware and of course, the ever evolving presence of the internet and all the tools it has brought to our workplace and lifestyles.
So, why do we rely on computers? Well, a big reason is for communication. Communication is important in business, and it will help you attract clients and play a big part in your relationship with them. Not only that, but the options for communication are quite numerous - from video calls and emails, which allow you to speak to your colleagues, employees, and others for business purposes.
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Of course, communication also plays a huge part in customer service and support. Dealing with your customers is a big part of business and computers allow you to communicate with your customers and resolve their queries. Another aspect of communication is marketing and promotion. Computers let businesses and freelancers create websites for work purposes as well as the advertisements they need to attract clientele. With computers, you can spread the message of your business and gain more customers to make more money.
Of course, there are many more reasons why we use computers for business purposes, but that should be enough to get you started.
Now, it's time to actually get a computer. You can't do business without one! The type of computer you will need will depend heavily on your business needs. If you're running a business staffed with employees, you'll need networked desktops. If you're writing from home, you'll be good with a basic Chromebook. If you're a designer, you're going to need something with a meatier graphics card. It's all about knowing what computer is going to be right for your needs. Assess your needs, find out what you're going to need from your computer, identify a model, shop around and then buy it! There are plenty of other accessories you can get such as a printer or scanner, and it is a case of assessing your need once again. Buy the equipment you need. Of course, computers can run on a variety of operating systems from Mac OSX to Microsoft Windows & Linux. There isn't a great deal that separates these anymore, so stick to what you know and what you need.
One final note about buying a computer - don't be cheap. Cheap computers are going to waste your time as they will take longer to complete tasks thanks to their inferior processing speed. Bargain computers might be great, but you need the best for business, and cheap computers won't cut it here.
Computers are a lot of work, especially if you are running a team. Consider IT support to spread the workload as computers require maintenance and the more computers you have, the heavier this task will be. If you're running a business by yourself, obviously this task is a lot easier, but external help should be considered if you are running a network of computers as one issue could bring everything down.
Going back to operating systems, no matter your choice of Mac OSX, Windows or Linux - it's important to keep it up to date. Why? Well if your operating system isn't up to date, it might not run well and could fall prey to issues that are fixed with a 'patch' offered by the supplier in an update. In some cases, updates are forced, but be sure to search for them, so your systems are up to date. Be wary that some updates can make some pieces of software redundant - so assess your need once again and don't update if it will ruin a crucial piece of software. However, it is worth looking for a more efficient piece of software if it is preventing you from updating your computer.
Another huge starting step to computing in business is keeping your computer safe. Computers can be hacked and can fall victim to viruses on occasion due to the openness of the world wide web. Ensure your computers are up to date (as said), but also equip each computer you use for work with anti-virus software that can stop viruses from intruding on your work computers. This software should be kept up to date so it can download the latest virus definitions to combat viruses and computer infections. This is key to the safety and success of your business no matter the size! If you are in any kind of business, you are going to be holding onto the data that cyber criminals want, so keep it under virtual lock and key with passwords and anti-virus software that can stop any unwanted intrusions.
That's the setup done - now it's time to assess the applications that can give you a boost. It won't matter if you're working from home or not, as software like Quickbooks can help you with your accounting. If you link it to your business account it can track your income and expenditure and even do your taxes for you - perfect for a freelancer no matter if you're selling on Etsy or Ebay or running a small bakery! Communications apps like Basecamp or Slack are so much better than emails and allow a business orientated communication tool to function as the virtual office space of your business! Google Drive can also allow you to store your work on the internet and work remotely. This has the added benefit of working as an automatic backup for your work and you only need a Google email account to get 15 gigabytes of free storage which is enough for most smaller businesses.
There's a lot more to know about computing for work, but this is enough to get you started. Now go start the business of your dreams or get it up and running!
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