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Taking into consideration the constant upgrades and forward strides in technology (and the resulting life and work style changes) the necessary "tools of the trade" for business can no longer be easily pinned down. For decades, an office, phone, a typewriter and a closet full of paper kept businesses rolling along. Then came computers and fax machines. Then PDAs and mobile phones...
I recently read an article from no more than three or four years ago on the topic of "must-have" business equipment and it really struck me just how outdated - and almost laughable - it was. So much has changed even from just a few years ago.
The fact is, there's no article that could be written that would sum up what a company needs to conduct business that would remain relevant for more than a few months. There's always going to be something newer, faster, better for getting things done. Rather than avail you of yet another article that will tell you at this point in time what the "must-have" equipment for running your enterprise is, lets take a few steps backward and get to the crux of the matter: your needs.
Just because there is new technology doesn't mean you have to embrace it. Each business is unique in its requirements and work flow. It's important to know and account for that when determining what your own business' "must haves" are.� While the technology changes, the core needs of business remain largely the same.
Separate from the means by which you create your product and/or service, most businesses have these needs in common:
Phone - It used to be you needed a phone "system" in order to "manage" your calls, screening and directing them to the proper parties and/or departments. You had at least one "office line," a "personal line" and a completely different mobile number that you only used when you were out of the office.
Now you can create your own individual phone "system." Using a service like, Grasshopper, for example, each person in your organization can have their own extension which will ring their own phone. Employees can manage their own calls, directing them to ring through (or not), go to a particular voice mail group and receive a customized greeting.
Internet/Email - Where written communication - even of minor importance - needed to be written and mailed can now take place instantaneously. Even important documents and files can be transferred to multiple parties simultaneously.
Contact Management - While it used to be the Rolodex that was the gatekeeper of this information, every business still lives and breathes by its contacts. Your customers, leads and associates are your company's lifeblood. Your ability to capture, store, retrieve and actually use that information keeps business rolling. There used to be an index card crammed with information on those important people. Today, it's email clients, like Outlook and Contact Relationship Management programs from which we keep in touch with the people who make our business happen.
Brochures and flyers are giving way to Flickr and Pinterest as the ways we present visual images to our clients. Email campaigns deliver news and event details directly to the inboxes of our customers.
As printed media shrinks as a source of information, traditional "ads" are quickly fading away, in favor of targeted advertising placed contextually in the social media we consume.
Even business cards aren't as much of a necessity as they used to be because there are just so many other, more efficient means by which to get our contact information to others.
When we need a document, we rarely even need a fax machine. Emailing documents created directly on our computers is far more common. And why would we need a scanner when we have a camera right on our phone?
Today, it really isn't even necessary to have an "office" per say in which to perform work. If you do require a physical location, do make certain to equip it with ergonomic furnishings to keep you comfortable and healthy.
Many workers, however, work completely virtually and may get the job done from a home office, cafe, shared office space or their living room couch. Of course it's important to have a space that's conducive to productivity - that place may just not have the traditional four walls.
These examples demonstrate just how quickly technology moves. It's not as important that you keep up with every twist and turn it takes but to periodically and realistically assess your needs.
Don't automatically replace or upgrade equipment; take it as an opportunity to discover what the most practical way for your business to accomplish the task, based upon your needs and budget. Remain abreast of technology as best you can but the best investment you can make is in a knowledgeable technology "interpreter" who can distill your needs into the best solution.
What is your business' "must-have" equipment?
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