//// This article is part of a series I’m working on for start-ups looking for a cheap way to get a professional image. For absolutely free options keep an eye out for part five and six. The goal of this series is to layout a full print/email/website campaign setup for $600. ////
Many people already have a computer. Even without any fancy software, a computer can be loaded with effective “Freeware” (free software) that can synthesize the resources of a much larger operation.
A computer can be a publishing house, training base, accountant, research assistant, teacher and communication tool. With Skype or another VOIP service you can have a super cheap business phone number through your internet service. Using programs from FaxCompare.com you can turn your computer into a fax machine without using any paper. Really the possibilities are endless!
A good computer can be bought for $400 with free shipping from good discount retailers like Tigerdirect.com. I don’t do a lot of technology shopping, but what I have done is with Tiger Direct and Newegg. I like both sites, but have felt Newegg’s prices are a bit high lately. Be aware Tiger Direct’s inventory is constantly shifting so if you don’t see a good deal for a computer today, check back in a week.
A computer will be your largest recommended purchase for a start-up company on a budget. In fact it will account for 60% of my cost recommendations in this fictional $600 marketing budget.
If you don’t have a computer and don’t have internet access, you might have to spend more to get a laptop computer so you can take advantage of free wireless internet access found in many restaurants, book stores and libraries. Laptops typically run about $500-$600 for something comparable in power to a $400 standard computer, but if you shop around you can find a deal cheaper.
When you’re shopping around for a computer deal here are some tips for us non-tech-savvy shoppers:
- No Best Buy, Comp USA, Walmart, etc. Very often the computers are underpowered for the price and because you’re staring at the computer then and there it’s harder for you to say “No” until you do research to find out if the computer will do what you need it to. Buy online or at least shop online before going to a store to make your purchase. Often stores will match an online price for computers if you match up the exact make and model.
- Shop online first. Find prices you like and use Google to read reviews on the product. If you like the “Lenveo IdeaPad U260” then you might search for “Lenveo IdeaPad U260 Review”. Compare a few computers you like to see if the prices are worth the compromise in power.
- Get a tech-friend to help you narrow down your purchase. Once you’ve done some research, bring in a friend to look over your final three picks. At that point they can give you advice on which of the three will do more of what you want for your money.
- If in doubt, delegate. I recently had a friend ask me for advice on a laptop she would need in a certain price range and that could do she needed. I gave her a few recommendations based on some quick research. Chances are if you know someone with a little tech savvy they will be willing to help narrow things down for you to the three choices and leave you to make the final decision and go forward.
Another consideration would be to contact your local universities. They often have computer sales of older used computers as they cycle in newer technology. You might be able to get a very good deal on a 2 or 3 year-old computer. I’ve heard of $3000 machines selling for $500 at one university, but your mileage may vary.
You Can Read the Whole Series Here:
Part One: Your Greatest Tool
Part One (And a Half): Camera & Printer
Part Two: Free Software
Part Three: Design, Design, Design
Part Four: Start Up Printing
Part Five: Website!
Part Six: Out of Money?
Part Seven: Out of Ideas?
Part Eight: Back Up