Assessing Your Computer Needs

Our advice that you should never acquire any business asset that you don't really need definitely applies to computers. Properly used, a computer can help you to become more organized, to work more efficiently, and to accomplish many tasks that otherwise would likely require professional assistance.

However, don't rush out to purchase a computer without first determining how you specifically intend to use it to aid your business. Otherwise, you may find that you've tied up excess capital in a system that does far more than you really need or, even worse, that you've acquired a system that doesn't accomplish what you expected and that ends up being a rather expensive paperweight.

Which tasks would a computer help you with? A good first step in assessing your computer needs is to list which tasks you believe would be more efficiently performed if computerized. Labor-intensive tasks such as recordkeeping, computing payroll, invoicing, analyzing financial projections, writing letters, and preparing advertisements and promotional materials are prime candidates. It's a good idea to speak with other business owners to find out how they are using computers to assist their business and to leverage their time.

You should also ask yourself if you're really ready to invest not only your money, but also your time in learning to use the computer in your business. Rest assured that if you do decide to take the plunge, you're going to be spending many an hour just becoming familiar with even the most user friendly of computers and programs and incorporating the computer into your daily routine.

Performing this assessment may convince you that you really don't need a computer at all or at least at the present time. Then again, you may conclude that you shouldn't be working without one. Let's assume you decide that a computer would be a useful business tool. What next?