The back-to-school season is upon us, and kids across the nation are sharpening their pencils and packing their lunch boxes as they ready for the first day of classes. But preparing for the academic season isn’t just for kids; business owners can take a tip from students and do their own back-to-school prep. Whether you’re a kindergartener (new small business owner) or college student (established entrepreneur), these tips will help you get your business ready for a new year of success.
School’s in session!
Time to Buy School Supplies
Many entrepreneurs are bootstrapping their small business, making do with as small a capital outlay as possible. While not spending yourself into a hole is wise, refusing to invest when you need to can cause problems, too. Particularly in the area of technology, it’s critical to have the tools you need to get the job done. Just as you can’t complete your trigonometry homework without the right calculator, you can’t keep things in your business flowing if you don’t have the right stuff. The main areas you want to look at are:
- business and office supplies
In the area of hardware, today’s desktop and laptop 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. Microsoft Office 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.
A graphic design program. Even if you outsource all your graphic design needs, you 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, 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 you’re 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, sign up as an affiliate and tell others about your recommendations. That way you can convert your expense into a revenue stream – and get an “A” in economics!
Small business profitability is just as much about spending right as it is in a good income stream – it all adds to your bottom line. Spend wisely!