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4 Smart Ways to Save Money On Your Next Computer Purchase

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How the Self-Employed Can Get the Most Out of New Technology

I think the first thing you have to consider when making an investment in IT for your small freelance business is the purpose of the system. The answer may not be as simple as it might seem at first blush.

You may think that you need new computers to better handle our increasingly mobile new way of work for instance, and that is a good answer. But I would like to suggest that it also may be short-sighted.

Businesses, including small freelance businesses, use IT for two different things. The first is internal – your computer system is the key to running your business. And second, externally, your system needs to help you market and sell your freelance business, and assist your communications with vendors, clients, customers, and other associates.

You may think that you need new computers to better handle the new, mobile, way of work, and that’s true, but that also may be short-sighted.

That means you may need a system and software more powerful than you may realize. Which begs the initial question: How can you afford to get what you need, and maybe what you want as well?

Ideas for How to Get the Technology Your Business Needs

1. Consider an upgrade or tune up: If money is really tight, you can extend the life of your current system for a few hundred dollars by investing in a few upgrades instead of a whole new system.

2. Buy more memory: Along the lines of #1, increased hard drive capacity, either internal or as an external hard drive, can help speed up and un-clutter almost any system and is incredibly affordable.

3. Go green: If purchasing a new system, buying one that is highly energy efficient can save you substantial sums on your energy bill. Flat screen monitors, Energy Star systems, and so on will help you, as well as the rest of us.

4. Lease: This is my favorite cost-savings idea. It came from a chat I once had with the Chief Information Officer at a major computer manufacturer. He explained that since most small businesses only keep a computer system for three to four years, leasing can be an affordable, smart alternative to what could be a major expenditure of capital.

Moreover, not only can you finance the hardware, but you can also finance software and services, thus a system and strategy that works both internally and externally can fall within the budget.

More Benefits for the Self-Employed Leasing Computer Technology

The CIO explained that there were other benefits to leasing your computer system:

  • It stretches your IT dollar further. For instance, $5,000 could net you about four computers on a purchase, but nine if you lease.
  • Leasing is flexible: You can lease for 24, 36, or 48 months, and at the end of the term options range from a buy out to a return to getting a whole new system.
  • It keeps you up-to-date: There are few things more frustrating than having a fairly new computer that nevertheless lacks the capacity to run the latest Big Thing. Leasing avoids that unenviable position.
  • You are always under warranty: Service contracts come with most leases.

Here’s an example: Davis & Wilkerson is an Austin, Texas based law firm that at one point leased 50 desktops. According to Mary Smith, the operations manager at the firm, “We were able to maintain a competitive edge by having the most up-to-date technology.” Moreover, she said that leasing allowed them to “add systems to the lease as new attorneys joined the firm.”

Bottom line: Making the right IT choice has never been more important. Make it a smart one, and watch your business grow as a direct result.

About Steve Strauss

Senior small business columnist at USA TODAY and author of 15 books, including The Small Business Bible, Steve is your host here at TheSelfEmployed.com.