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When starting a new business, you need to be organised and while you’re stressing about business plans and marketing, you’re forgetting the little details that make a business work – your office equipment.
Choosing the right business equipment is essential if you want your operations to run efficiently. It not only helps with the day-to-day tasks, but it’ll give you a more professional setting should clients be visiting. Whether it’s just you, or your have a team of employees working with you, there are some essential items you should consider for your office space. And remember, they are all tax deductible.
Consider how much furniture you’re going to need. How many employees do you have? How much space do you have? As a new business, start small. Think of the essential office equipment – the things you can’t run your business without. This includes a desk, office chairs, storage space. Consider that your employees will work better if you provide a quality setting – so think ergonomically.
Ensure you have chairs that are the right height for your desks, and that are comfortable for employees who spend most of their day working at the computer. Don’t be afraid to choose colours that brighten up your space either – these can enhance employee morale and they are eye-catching to customers. Keep it the same and adaptable. Remember that your furniture is a long-term investment so try to avoid budget pieces that you’ll just have to replace in six months’ time.
2. Computers & software
No business can operate without a computer and software – even if it’s just to do the accounts at the end of financial year. And most businesses will use computers and software on a daily basis, whether for inventory checks, keeping track of accounts, marketing, or because your business is solely based online. Regardless of how often you use your computers, you need to make sure they work. Consider investing in laptops if you are on the go a lot with your job, and a desktop PC back at the office that allows you to do all the administration work.
You want to have a strong backup system and consider saving everything to the cloud – this not only frees up space on your computer, but it also ensures you won’t lose your work should your system shut down. Dropbox, Google Drive or OneDrive are popular cloud services that offer space for your documents. Don’t forget to invest in anti-virus software and you may need a word processing software which will help for efficiency. CRM systems are also effective, particularly for managing your customers and marketing, and appointment software will help your day run more smoothly.
3. Internet connection
Your computers and other technological business equipment aren’t much use without a quality internet connection so shop around and see what’s available in your local area. If you have a number of computers and you want them to all connect to the same server, internet that allows for multiple users and unlimited data is your best bet. Check to see if you have NBN available and before you sign up for anything, consider how many items you use that will need an internet connection – aside from computers, your phone, photocopier, printer, [EFTPOS machines](EFTPOS machine](https://squareup.com/au/en/hardware/terminal), coffee machine, smart TV or other smart systems, all require reliable connection. If you run a café or hair salon, you might also consider providing customers with free Wi-Fi so they’re more inclined to stick around (and spend more money).
4. Payment methods
As a business startup, receiving payment is what’s going to get you through from day to day – and there are many ways this can be done. Depending on the type of business you run, you might invest in an old-school cash register as a starter. Your register can be set up with all your current products and will make sure you always have cash on hand if you need it. But you’re also going to need other payment methods.
As a result of the pandemic, many businesses are actually going completely cash-free. This has led to new and improved facilities that all businesses can take advantage of, including advanced EFTPOS machines. There are also a range of options, including mobile payments, QR code payments, Square Online Checkout and online invoicing, and even Square’s Virtual Terminal that turns your computer into a payment terminal.
Brendan Wrigley, owner of Cobbs Coffee in Ballarat, highly recommends the Square Reader which is easy to use from the backend. “Aesthetically, the Square Reader also looks nice and clean on the bar and suits everything else we do,” he says.
Square offers a range of payment methods that are both flexible and efficient for businesses.
5. Printer, copier, scanner
Although most business operations are online now, you never know when you’re going to need a printer, copier or scanner. Your best bet – get a machine that offers all three in one. You might also include faxing, though most businesses these days can do without this feature thanks to the beauty of email.
When considering a printer, you want to invest as much as needed for the quality you require. If you’re an architect or graphic designer, you’re going to need high quality colour printing, compared to a builder who might only need to print black and white plans.
Do your research and check out a few options before you settle. Compare the number of prints you get for the cartridges and the efficiency of the printer if you generally print large documents. You might also consider whether you can connect the printer to your computer via Wi-Fi as well to make your office layout easier.
6. Telephones & systems
When you’re setting up an office, one of the most important things you’ll need is a phone. How else are customers going to get in touch with you at a moment’s notice? Smaller businesses might choose to stick to a mobile phone as the single point of access. But as the business grows, you don’t want your phone ringing off the hook all day with queries. At this stage you should have a landline installed at the office, you can either choose old school style phones or a new high tech phone system.
Traditionally, there’s a PBX system which has a box that sits on your premises, and it offers extensions to other phones. The PBX takes all incoming calls (for example to your reception area), and these calls are then transferred to separate lines. The second option is a VoIP PBX which is an updated version that works using data or internet connection; or the third option is a hosted VoIP system that is based on a cloud telephone system.
7. Other supplies
Once you have the main features set up, it’s time to look at your stationery, storage and general supplies. For stationery, you will need pens, paper and notebooks. You might require binders and folders to store important information, filing systems, staplers and hole punches. Consider the paperwork you’ll be dealing with and buy accordingly.
For storage, you’ll need both computer-based storage and hard storage. Boxes or filing cabinets to put paperwork in, cupboards for new or old stock, and USB flash drives or external hard drives to back up your data without relying on the cloud.
Finally, comfort. If you have employees, you want to make sure they are kept happy. A kitchenette should come equipped with filtered water and a coffee machine, a fridge where they can keep their lunch or drinks, and a microwave. You might also invest in vending machines with healthy, and unhealthy, snacks.
There’s a lot to think about when setting up a new business, and it’s tempting to focus on the bigger picture. However, you need to remember it’s the little details, like the essential office equipment, that will keep your business running efficiently well into the future.