Internet is constantly growing and so are new social networks. Facebook and Twitter are constantly reviewing their security policies and introducing new features, and so people are putting more and more contents online. Social networks have made socializing easy and it is helping new start up companies to promote their business with little or no investment in marketing.
And if you connect your old computer with internet and install a few useful applications, you can easily setup a small office to run a full time business; here’s how.
Determine the Scope of Your Business
Determining the size of a business is very important because it lets you know what things you are going to need. You might need storage devices, multiple computers, stationery, furniture and few others things. The quantity of these hard assets depend upon the size of a business.
Note down services or products on a piece of paper which you will provide in future. Don’t plan for long term now, instead only focus on short term goals and start with a few things; design a business plan if you can. Once your planning phase is complete, you can then focus on your computers.
Find an old computer and it shouldn’t be older than Pentium 4 but if you can find a computer with higher system specification it would be great. You will easily find refurbished Pentium 4 on Amazon and online computer stores. You will find a complete desktop system from $200. Go for Dell Optiplex series costing around $70 for CPU.
What You Want from a Computer
A computer can do a lot of things but its work output depends upon the nature of business. If you are running an online store, handmade craft or logistic business, the computer can serve as invoicing and supply monitor/logging machine in which you can keep track of products and materials. You can also use a computer to draw graphics, create online contents, design mobile applications and perform a wide variety of tasks.
Start with Basic Upgrades
An old computer will require at least some upgrades so that it can keep up with the business. If you are using Pentium 4 then Windows XP would be an ideal operating system but you can also install Vista if you are using a system with higher specifications.
Next thing to look for is the storage. How much storage is enough for you? A graphic design studio requires storage space in terabytes. Start with gigabytes preferably 320GB HDD and invest in external storage hard drives in future when you think you have enough spare money, and keep the same old accessories such as mouse and keyboard.
Add some extra RAM preferably 1GB to increase system performance.
Use Web Apps for Office
Office applications are essential for every business but if you don’t have enough money to purchase a copy of MS Office then use Google Docs (now part of Google Drive) or MS Office Web App as an alternative until you purchase a copy; they are free and requires no download. There are also other alternatives such as Office365. You can create documents, spreadsheets and presentations with these cloud office applications.
Use Smart Apps
Find smart applications which can reduce work force and time to manage tasks such as time keeping, attendances, accounting and tracking logistics. These applications may not be free but it is worth spending once than giving a salary every monthly.
For instance Genbook an online scheduling application that logs and reminds you about upcoming appointments and meetings. You can track regular customers, mark location of meetings and even add your staff in the system. This way you won’t need another computer and have work completed without adding load to it.
FreshBooks is another useful cloud invoicing and billing service, and can replace the need of an accountant through the same old PC.
Old computers are not as old as you think and they might still have some power left in them to help you set up your first office. Start slow and upgrade your office techs as your business grows.