Whether you’re self-employed or the head of a small or medium enterprise, there’s a good chance you use a computer. In order to work effectively and keep your business running smoothly, you need to have access to reliable hardware, invest in all the necessary software, and keep both up-to-date. This can be expensive, especially if you are just starting out or have come up against the need to update several things at once. However, there are easy ways to lower the cost of your business’ IT needs.
Buy for the Future
This tactic may involve spending more initially, but it can often mean significant savings down the line. When you buy a new computer or update your software, think about your business’ future needs as well as your immediate ones. For example, choose a computer with a reputation for reliability and with higher spec than you need. It may cost you more right now, but a few years down the line it will still meet your needs where a cheaper computer might have already needed replacing. As always, there is debate among experts, but Toshiba and Asus are widely considered two of the most reliable brands.
Buy Last Year’s Versions
There are times when it makes sense to do almost the opposite of the suggestions above. Usually, this applies to software. For many software packages, an updated version is released every year. However, sometimes the differences between versions can be small, or simply not applicable to your business. This means that you can often save a lot of money by buying last year’s version. It may last just as long as the latest version, but if it does have a shorter lifespan the fact you can use the same tactic again will often still make for a saving.
Use Free Software
Many people dismiss free software, thinking it must not be as good as paid alternatives. However, this is frequently not the case. Many free software packages are made by dedicated and talented professionals as a personal project. A lot are also “open source,” meaning that thousands of professional and amateur programmers contribute to its creation. One of the notable examples is Libreoffice, a free alternative to Microsoft Office. It is fully cross-compatible with Microsoft’s popular office suite, and Libreoffice and its ancestor OpenOffice.org have been adopted by local councils, government institutions and large companies around the world to cut costs while maintaining productivity. Free software packages are available for many purposes, and often are entirely suited to business use and offer all the functionality of their non-free counterparts. However, be aware that some software is only free for personal use and requires a paid licence for business use.