I’m about to relocate my consultancy business from home to a small office space and will be taking staff. I’m starting from scratch with office equipment and don’t know whether to buy everything separately or go for a package. How can I minimise costs while future proofing to make sure the systems I put in place grow with the business?
Stephen Clarke writes:
To keep costs down, rent office equipment and technology you require within the office, ensuring that as part of the package there are automatic upgrades on your equipment. Technology can become obsolete very quickly so ensure that the rental package you purchase keeps you constantly up-to-date with the latest hardware.
Don’t rent too much equipment, just the minimum to run your business. Many pieces of office equipment have now been replaced by the computer. For example, instead of using a fax machine, you can send and receive faxes on your computer. Instead of fixed line phones, try Skype.
Ensure that the office you choose has an excellent but good value internet provision. You may want to check that you can choose your own internet service provider should the one that comes with your office not be fast enough or suitable for your needs.
In terms of software to go with your hardware, look at cloud computing packages and ensure that they integrate with all the functions of your business accounts, sales and marketing – a good Customer Relationship Management (CRM) package should provide for this.
“Software as a service” (SaaS) packages may be your best bet as this will spread your costs and all upgrades are done automatically. As those services are internet based, this will in turn minimise any time spent sorting out any of your employees’ IT problems. All your company data will be hosted securely outside of your business, so ensure you can get easy access to your data should you wish to move from one provider to another.
Finally, shop around. There are many SaaS packages on the market now, some more expensive and no better than the lower cost options. Go for packages with a great deal of flexibility that will grow and allow you to add on further modules when your company grows. One option is to use web-based email and Word and Excel equivalents from Google. It’s free of charge and as long as you are happy to put up with advertising and can help minimise your software expenditure and cut down on those costly annual licenses that you may get with other email, word-processing and spreadsheet packages.
As well as hardware and software, you will need to provide somewhere for staff to sit down and work. If the office you have chosen does not come with office equipment you may wish to consider finding your nearest local auction house, they will often have desks, chairs and cabinets from business liquidations at bargain prices. Alternatively, should you wish to buy new, IKEA, Staples or Viking will be able to provide new office equipment at low rates.
Stephen Clarke is the managing director of