When starting out in business there are great temptations to buy the best of everything and spend too much money in the process. This is one of the potentially devastating mistakes that new companies make and it can be a killer from the start.
It is the intention of this article to help you avoid spending thousands of unnecessary dollars when setting up your Small Office Home Office (SOHO). It addresses your PC and the software that you buy for it.
First off, think of your PC as a business tool only. Don't fall for the temptation to buy a PC that is also a game machine or a video player to watch movies with. This way, you will reduce the amount of money you spend.
Equipment You Should Have
PC - You can buy a great PC from several places including Dell, Gateway, Best Buy, and CompUSA for about $500.00. Your PC should have a minimum of a 1.2GHz processor, 512MB of memory, and a 40GB hard drive.
It should include:
A sound card or integrated sound chip. The sound card/chip will have ports for a microphone, in-line (which you may never need but allows for other equipment sound input) and speakers.
A video card or integrated chip which your monitor plugs into and also drives your video display.
USB 2.X ports. USB ports are the interfaces where USB cables plug into your computer. USB cables allow you to attach equipment like your mouse, printer, and Scanner.
PCI slots. These are interfaces on Mother Board that allow you to add cards with customized functionality to the PC. They are also the places where video cards and sound cards are attached.
Mouse - I recommend that you get a Wireless Optical Mouse. The price of Wireless Optical Mouses (or is it Mice?) has come down so far that there is no reason to have the old kind. The convenience of being untethered from the PC cannot be adequately described.
Monitor - I still have the old fashioned CRT (TV type) of monitor but when this one goes I will get a Flat Panel Display. The prices have dropped enough to afford one.
Printer - You will need a laser or inkjet printer for everyday tasks like seeing how your web pages come out on paper. You can print ebooks or reports. Many people find it difficult to read from the monitor and like to print much of what they read.
You can buy a good inkjet printer for about $50.00. If you do a lot of printing it will last at least one or two years.
The advantage of buying inexpensive printers is each year the manufacturers come out with new printers that are better than the previous year so you always get better quality for a lower price.
Operating System - the Operating System is the machine code software that makes your PC run. It is the brains of the PC.
It is worth the cost of Windows XP to have a PC that has thousands of compatible programs available to it.
Word Processor - You are going to need a word processor to do business. You will need to communicate with suppliers, your bank, and with customers. Your word processor should be able to output documents and read documents with the .doc extension. The extension is three or four characters with a period in front that tells the computer what kind of program to use to process your file or document.
When you buy your computer, you can save hundreds of dollars by getting Microsoft Office bundled with it. MS Office contains their Word word processing system, Excel Spreadsheet, and PowerPoint presentation system. These are all industry standards.
WYSIWYG Editor - If you plan to have a website, you will either need to pay someone $2,000.00 or more to do it for you or you will have to do it yourself. If you are starting on a low budget, then you will probably want to do it yourself.
You should really have a WYSIWIG (What You See Is What You Get) editor like Microsoft FrontPage or Macromedia Dreamweaver. What a WYSIWYG editor does is take the information that you visually create on a web page and translate it into the HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) computer code that make the web page show up in the Browser like Internet Explorer or Netscape.
Adobe Acrobat Reader - Hundreds of thousand of documents on the web are in the .pdf format. Most ebooks are formatted in .pdf. This is a document compression program developed by Adobe. They have a free reader called Acrobat Reader that can be downloaded at their site http://www.adobe.com.
Macromedia Flash - Macromedia Corporation invented a program called Macromedia Flash that makes it easy to have animations or movies on the web. It is almost a necessity if you want to take the many free courses or tutorials that are available on the web.
You can download the free Macromedia Flash Player at http://www.macromedia.com.
If you follow these recommendations, you will have everything you need to get your Small Office Home Office set up and ready to go.