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Every business, no matter how big or small, will need some form of equipment or technology for their day-to-day running. As part of your planning, you should consider what technologies you need to get up and running and what equipment/software would be good to have in the future to help you grow or streamline operations. In this article we will run the basics for most businesses. 

1. Hardware – Computers, Laptops, Phones. 

It is likely you will need at least one computer to run your business. Some companies have a BYO technology policy, this may work for you however consider cost to the employee and security issues that may arise. If you do need to buy a device for a member of staff shop around, consider their needs (remote working, going to meetings with clients) and the software that they will need to ensure you get the right one for the best price. If you or an employee needs a phone you can put this on a business plan which will be cheaper than personal plans. Also don’t forget to put purchases for technology through your books to enable you to claim tax back (if you are VAT registered). 

2. Software 

This will vary greatly depending on your business and we will go into some essential ones further on in this article. The Office Suite (Word, Excel, PowerPoint etc) will be the most common and can be purchased on a business plan. If you need creative software, like Photoshop, Illustrator etc., this may affect the choice of computer or laptop you decide to buy. Mac’s are great for design software however come at a premium and can cause compatibility issues if other employees are working on PC’s. The Abode Suite including these programs charges a monthly fee of around £40 per user so if you are planning on only using these programs to make marketing material & social media content consider using online template platforms such as Canva which are easy to use and a lot cheaper. 

3. Network 

You will need to set up a network if you have several employees working together that need to share documents or use printers. What kind of network you’ll need will depend on how many devices you need connected. For 5 or less users you can set up a simple network, bigger businesses may need multiple routers and large organisations will need to build their network around a server. 

4. Accounting System 

Setting up accounting software for your business is essential. It will mean you can easily and quickly keep all your transactions in order making your accountant love you and ensuring you don’t fall foul of the taxman! Accounting software is simple to set up and can be done online in minutes. Quickbooks, Xero and Freshbooks are all designed with small business owners in mind and are great options to get you set up. Larger firms may want more developed software such as Sage which you can integrate into your systems and customise to your needs. 

5. Payroll Software 

There are free versions of this all, alternatively the above mentioned accounting software brands offer payroll software as well. If numbers aren’t your thing, you have many employees or are time-poor having this software can be of great benefit to you. It makes difficult calculations, carries out repetitive tasks and gives you peace of mind when it comes to getting your workforce paid correctly and on-time. 

6. Inventory Control System 

As your business grows or if you have lots of stock to manage an inventory control system can help keep you organised. Again, most of the companies that offer accounting software have inventory management systems that can be easily integrated into your business. 

7. CRM (Customer Relationship Management) 

This is a system where a business administrates interactions with customers and potential customers. MondayCRM, Pipedrive and Freshworks CRM are some examples of software that can help you build customer relationships, analyse data, and manage client information. As your business grows these systems will become increasingly useful and can be a vital tool when scaling. Some training for staff will be necessary but this will be offset by increased efficiency and streamlined customer interactions. 

8. Cloud Working 

Traditionally software such as Office programs would be downloaded individually to each an employee’s computer however now you have the option of having all your company’s documents on the cloud. This is particularly useful for remote working (each person has a log in to access documents from any device), sharing files, reducing initial spend on software and saving space taken up by lots of documents being saved down onto computers. 

9. Payment Options for Customers 

Online integrations 

Along with other benefits of having a website, setting your business up so customers can purchase online can add revenue streams, enable you to reach customers all over the globe and allow purchases out of your regular ‘opening hours’. PayPal, Worldpay and Opayo (previously Sage Pay) are some popular examples; some of these can be integrated into your current website and some will need you to build a website with that provider. If you offer a subscription service consider setting up a Direct Debt option for customers, this will stop you from having to bill people constantly and make it easier for customers as their payment goes to you automatically. 

Card machines at point of sale 

If you run a shop, restaurant, mobile salon or stall you may want to purchase a card reader. There are many options to choose from; check out details on the most popular ones here
 
Plans are different for each one, some have one off payments and some are rental arrangements. Most have a small fee they charge, sometimes it’s based on the transaction amount, number of transactions or overall monthly revenue that goes through the device. 

In summary … 

You may not always have a large amount of spare cash to spend on IT equipment and technology when you start your business so build up as you go, shop around for deals and consider finance/leasing as alternatives. Using technology to make it as easy as possible for customers to purchase your product is the priority. Having computers fast enough with enough memory for your employees to carry out their duties effectively is also a must. There are a lot of free or low-cost software's available to help you run your business more efficiently from accounting systems to social media design and scheduling tools. One last thing to remember when it comes to your businesses data is - have a back-up! Ensure important information & documents are secure and backed-up devices are regularly updated just in case you have a system failure. 
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