I once worked for a very large sign company in Las Vegas. My department constantly struggled with our equipment. The hardware was several years behind the times, constantly breaking down, slowing to a snail’s pace or freezing up completely.
Of course, no one outside our department understood the problems these situations created. The salesmen wanted what they wanted yesterday. When we asked for upgrades, we were always told, “It’s not in the budget,” or, “Maybe next year.”
Sometimes management would tease us. They’d ask us to submit a report on what we needed, why we needed it and how it would improve processes. They’d then either forget about our reports or buy cheap equipment that didn’t fit our needs at all.
The company saved money this way. Well, they may have saved money in the short term, but our outdated hardware and software cost them in the long run.
It was a frustrating situation for us workers.
Limping to Scrimp
James tends to spare no expenses when he needs something. He’d been biting his tongue for a long time, questioning why I preferred hobbling along in frustration using an outdated computer that thwarted me with every click.
When you’re self-employed, you’re very much aware of income. It’s either feast or famine in the freelancing world, which means that when business is good, freelancers may tend to stockpile for when business slows down.
It’s tough to part with cash when you feel you’re getting along with what you have.
My equipment had been giving me plenty of warnings that I was long overdue for an upgrade. Programs took forever to load, error warnings appeared, various menu tools wouldn’t display, the computer would freeze and the comment, “Hang on, I have to reboot,” became frequent.
Finally, my computer decided it couldn’t open Adobe Illustrator any more.
I sat down and figured out how much time it actually took me to do a project on one of my computer’s good days. I thought about how many work hours were wasted watching that damned hourglass twirl while I waited.
Too much. I was reminded of that sign company, scrimping its way while our frustrations grew. My fear of the freelancing famine was costing the business – and hurting me.
Dependable Equipment is Priceless
Delaying expenses for your business may end up costing more in time and money than buying what you need immediately.
Making due doesn’t cut it, whether with personnel or equipment. Patch a problem long enough and all you’re left with is a huge wad of duct tape.
It’s a smarter choice to upgrade, even if what you buy isn’t the most recent version or the latest high-end technology. Upgrading progressively isn’t a band-aid patch. It’s a set of steps to reach the goal of equipment that runs better, saves time and also spares a few headaches.
Upgrade and Save with Refurbished Material – Sometimes
If you need to upgrade equipment, check for refurbished models. There’s often nothing wrong with these items, but then again, you could end up with a lemon and spending more than you intended when it breaks down.
Most of the time, the equipment might have a small scratch on the casing or have personalization for a customer who ended up not buying the product. Sometimes, only the box was opened. Everything else is untouched.
By law, manufacturers have to state that the item is refurbished, even if the item is in perfect condition. You could easily save yourself money – sometimes even a few hundred dollars.
But as always, buyer beware. Ask questions.
For example, I decided to buy a refurbished computer because the manufacturer gave me some great deals. Within 24 hours, all I was looking at was a blue screen, and there was nothing I could do about it. Several unproductive days later, a visit from Geek Squad turned up bad RAM. I’d have to ship the computer back, and I ended up buying locally regardless.
Stay Ahead of the Competition
Having good equipment is necessary for small businesses to stay ahead of the competition. The most recent equipment and software helps you to keep up or move ahead of the pack. When your equipment is outdated, you only limit yourself and your business.
Contemplate financing equipment purchases, too. Many companies offer deferred payment plans that give you anywhere from 6 months to a year before you need to make a payment. Keep in mind that it’s a smart idea to bank up the full payment amount and eliminate the debt when that day comes.
Find room in your budget for the right tools for your job. It’s a tax write off and usually an essential part of getting the job done better, faster and to higher customer satisfaction.