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Properly used, a computer can help you to become more organized, to work more efficiently, and to accomplish many tasks that otherwise would likely require professional assistance.
However, don't rush out to purchase a computer without first determining how you specifically intend to use it to aid your business. Otherwise, you may find that you've tied up excess capital in a system that does far more than you really need or, even worse, that you've acquired a system that doesn't accomplish what you expected and that ends up being a rather expensive paperweight.
Assessing Your Computer Needs
A good first step in assessing your computer needs is to list which tasks you believe would be more efficiently performed if computerized. Labor-intensive tasks such as recordkeeping, computing payroll, invoicing, analyzing financial projections, writing letters, and preparing advertisements and promotional materials are prime candidates. It's a good idea to speak with other business owners to find out how they are using computers to assist their business and to leverage their time.
You should also ask yourself if you're really ready to invest not only your money, but also your time in learning to use the computer in your business. Rest assured that if you do decide to take the plunge, you're going to be spending many an hour just becoming familiar with even the most user friendly of computers and programs and incorporating the computer into your daily routine.
Let's assume you decide that a computer would be a useful business tool. What steps should you take next?
- Choosing computer software: The tasks you envision computerizing should identify your general software needs.
- Choosing computer hardware: Once you've determined the types of programs you'd like to use, you can then make an informed decision as to what you'll need in terms of computer hardware to properly run the programs.
- Comparison shopping: Checking pricing is more meaningful if you can compare among different retailers your desired system's cost as opposed to the costs of each of its parts.
- Protecting your computer system: One aspect of computerizing many of your business records and operations is that you tend to concentrate a lot of valuable information in a potentially fragile format. So once you've entered the business computing world, make sure your stay is a pleasant one by taking adequate steps to protect your data and equipment.