11 Jul Do yourself a favour, start with these 3 Techssentials
You’re starting your own business and you’re thinking “How good is this? I can work from anywhere, anytime. The world is my oyster!” … Well, true[ish]. But only if you’ve got your tech sorted!
Because I haven’t met a busy business owner yet who has time for tech-meltdowns and app-attacks… the type that make you want to throw your laptop out the window or kick the printer to the kerb. Ain’t nobody got time for dat!
So do yourself a favour and start with these 3 Techssentials in your kit bag.
1. Super Smart Phone
First up, let’s talk handset. It’s iPhone all the way baby. You simply can’t go past how easy they are to use! And all the must-have apps you will want to run for your business will work beautifully on it. [But… if you must look elsewhere, go for it].
Plus, two words: Genius Bar. There is nothing worse than tech not working and having no one to ask! If you get stuck, there’s actually a real life human to help you out. Or if you’re not physically near an Apple store, the online support is good.
Now, try not to live in the dark ages with an old handset or operating system. You want speed and reliability here people. Run your updates. Upgrade your handset. Embrace new technologies.
I personally upgrade every couple of years. I go for minimal capacity [right now that’s 64GB] as I keep most stuff “in the cloud” [sounds perfectly dreamy, doesn’t it?]. And, because I have a penchant for big screens, I like the Plus size screens [all the better for my fat fingers and saving my sight for old age!].
But, no matter what I prefer, what’s most important is that you do your research. Ask lots of questions, and then ask some more. Go into a store and play play play with the models until you find a good fit. Choose a handset that you are truly comfortable with.
And while you’re there… consider buying directly from Apple. They have business teams who [wink wink] can give discounts, especially if you buy all your products with them over time. Develop a relationship. Invest the time. You will reap the benefits.
And pleeeeease, pretty please. Do yourself a favour and get a quality screen protector. How many fabulously professional, immaculately dressed, busy business owners do you see with cracked screens? Honestly, it’s like wearing a pair of daggy, old, ripped, muddy, poor fitting jeans with a beautiful designer jacket! For goodness sake, get yourself sorted! My vote goes with the Belkin screen protectors, they are my absolute favourites. Ultrathin. Anti-scratch. Anti-glare. Easy-align. And super durable.
So now, let’s talk network connection.
You’re in this to make money, right? Your network connection is literally your life line. Get yourself onto a plan that gives you everything you need for calls and data. You literally get what you pay for… there’s a good reason some plans cost more.
I say, go Telstra. I’m not going to lie, they’re the best of a bad bunch. But the point is … don’t muck around with cheap and cheerful plans, only to have half a bar on 3G when you’re trying to do business. [Arrgggh, saaah frustrating!].
Without a reliable connection, you are mute. Invisible. And ain’t nobody got time for that in business. It’s busy enough, let alone having to play catch up when you’re back online.
Ask the hard questions about costs up front, “What happens if I need more data this month than I have on my plan?” “What will I be charged if I go over my call limits?”, “What are the charges for using my phone internationally?”. Know what you’re in for!
When it comes to the term of your plan … be it pre-paid, month-to-month or lock-in plans… [there are so many options it might make your brain explode]… I personally go casual [bring my own handset and pay month-to-month]. Not because I want to change network like my underwear but because there’s new plans being released all the time and I like the flexibility to scale up and down and move around as I need to.
I’m also a hawk-eye when it comes to monitoring my usage. It’s easy[ish] with the Telstra 24×7 app. I like to know how I’m tracking so that I have no scary surprises on my bill. Know your numbers [a business fundamental right there].
2. Ready, Set, Laptop
Right, so now you have a super smart phone in your hot little hand, let’s do some real work. We need a laptop for that. [There’s only so much you can do on your mobile].
Straight back to the Apple store, you can’t beat the MacBook Pro. It is literally a touch of genius. And your busy business life is going to be a million times easier if you stick with the same brand for your mobile and laptop. [So, if I lost you at Apple earlier, then better you match your device brands here too]. Seamless integration and automating mundane tasks is a must in business. Having 2 of the same, e.g. Apple + Apple, is going to make you so much more productive. It’s a no brainer.
Now, if you’re just starting out, you’re possibly looking at the price tag on those babies and thinking “How on earth can I part with dollars like that right now?”. You probably have many other things to pay for and can’t afford it right now. So, let’s get real.
You possibly already have some kind of laptop or computer, perhaps a different brand, connected on a different network, or using an alternative provider… and that’s ok! I started on an old dinosaur of a laptop that took 10 minutes to turn on let alone get any work done. But, I had my eye on the prize, and set aside 10% each time a client paid one of my invoices, until I had enough to whip out and buy the real deal. If you’re not quite in a position where you can make the switch right now, remember: make it over time. Set yourself a goal and go for it.
So when it comes time to invest in your new laptop, here are some tips.
2 main things I look at when selecting a model…
First up, the Processor. If the specs don’t say “quad-core”, it’s not for me. I want speed but at a price I can afford. So if you can afford the top of the tops, go for it. You won’t be disappointed. But if cash is a concern, just make sure it says “quad-core”.
Second thing, Storage. This is where I invest in a bit more and usually take up the option to configure up to 2TB SSD [I currently have 512GB SSD]. It makes a very real difference to the performance of your laptop. You can get stuff done so very much faster. But note, you can only do this configuration if you order directly through Apple.
Plus, consider these 4 important extras…
I seriously can’t live without a really big screen. Sure, laptops are great when you’re on the go, but when I want to kick some efficiency goals and get a heap of stuff done, I can’t go past having a monitor that I can put two windows side by side on. Like the old school dual monitor thing, but on one really big screen. If you’re cashed up, you can’t go past the Thunderbolt. [Again, Apple].
But if you don’t have that kind of cash to splash right now, you can always look at any HD monitor, just go for something at least 27”. You could also check out Apple’s refurbished displays to scoop a bargain.
A wireless mouse is my next best friend. Surprise, surprise… I have a Magic Mouse. [Yes, it’s Apple]. And it saves my wrists from otherwise using the trackpad. Plus the battery lasts for AGES. I can work way more efficiently [and in my busy world, every precious moment saved is a moment created for other more important things].
My next best friend is a wireless keyboard. You guessed it, it’s Apple’s Magic Keyboard. True, my laptop has a full size keyboard BUT when I’m back at my desk, I prefer to pop my laptop on charge, hook it up to my very big monitor, and use a wireless mouse and keyboard. It’s literally like working on desktop, but with a laptop. No mucking around. No excuses for slow down.
And last, but definitely not least, get yourself a whiz bang powered portable hard drive [I’ve got a Toshiba one that does the trick] and plug it into your laptop whenever it’s on charge. All Macs come with the Time Machine app installed. You simply need to plug in your external hard drive, launch Time Machine and follow the bouncing ball to set your preferences… and your back ups will be looked after for you. Just do it. You will thank yourself if ever you need to do a restore.
Now, let’s talk wireless internet. I harped on about it before and I’ll do it again now… get connected to a good quality wireless network! It’s your life line. [Try doing business for a day without an internet connection and see how things play out]. Telstra is my go-to. But that’s mostly because the cable in our area is contracted to them and them only. So the decision was obvious for me. Like your mobile plan, find a plan that works for you. It’s got to be reliable and fast [as it can be]. And know what you’re in for. Really [really] get to know your plan. No scary surprises on your bill.
3. Cheerful Little Printer
Say huh? She’s into all things digital yet she’s talking about printers? Surely the world is paperless, right? Well, not entirely…
Think, you need to sign a contract for an amazing deal with your ideal client. You want to get that printed, scanned and returned as soon as humanly possible to lock that baby in! In these moments, you need a printer.
BTW, here’s something Apple don’t make. I have a cheerful little HP one… and given that I’ve printed onto 3 reams of paper in 3 years, you can tell I’m pretty darn paperless. It prints. It scans. And it’s wireless. Plus printer ink is really easy to come by [think Woolworths, Coles and Officeworks].
And we’re done. Phew. That was epic!
After this somewhat chunky post, I’m not going to rabbit on about hardware [much]. To me, it’s not a thing. You buy it every now and again. And if you make good decisions early, you literally won’t even have to think about it. Until it comes time to upgrade because, heck, you just feel like having the newest [and have the cash to splash]… or what you have starts to slow you down [that’s when you know it’s time to upgrade].
Same with the interwebs. While yes, I would love love love a faster internet connection, Australia just isn’t the best place for high speed. So breathe. Take the time to relax and find a little piece of calm in your busy days, while you wait for a page to load or product to download. It’s all good. We don’t have to do everything in a hurry. So long as you’ve done your research and know you’re on the best plan… there’s no more you can do.
Long story short, make good decisions early… and if you happen to make a crappy decision, be brave enough to switch [knowing that you’re going to gain so much peace of mind and time using the right equipment].
p.s. This is not an advertisement for Apple, Telstra, Belkin, Toshiba, HP or any other product referenced. In fact, I have no affiliation with them. I’m simply a genuine fan of their products and wouldn’t run my business as successfully using anything else*.
* Until something better comes along.