Whether your company is a budding startup or a long-established business, you're going to need the right equipment. Laptops, printers, copy machines and even company cell phones all help your team do their jobs and keep the business functioning properly.
Before you jump into the buying process, however, it's essential to have a plan in place. How much equipment do you need? What kind? Asking yourself a few simple questions before you buy can ensure you and your business are set up for success now and in the long run. But what factors should you consider?
A panel of nine YEC leaders give their advice on the most important factors you should think about before purchasing your next piece of hardware. These answers are provided by members of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization that comprises the world's most successful young entrepreneurs. YEC members represent nearly every industry, generate billions of dollars in revenue each year and have created tens of thousands of jobs. Learn more at YEC.co.
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1. Scalable infrastructure
"The choice of hardware is tied to your company's growth and the extent to which you want to scale up. When we became 10 from 5, we had to redo everything. When we doubled to 20 from 10, the system fell apart again. So now we have to prepare for 1,000 because we don't want infrastructure getting in the way of performance and growth. And that's the main factor you need to consider." – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS
2. Return on investment
"I look at the return on investment when buying office hardware. This comes down to a quality question for me. I want all of my employees to have the tools they need to be at their best, and the quality and service of the hardware allow my employees to reach their full potential. Buying the right equipment can help productivity, ingenuity and the capacity to run at full throttle." – Brian Greenberg, True Blue Life Insurance
3. Outsourcing costs
"Doing a cost analysis will help you answer this question for you. For instance, if your team finds itself running to Kinko's daily for printing, scanning or picking up suppliers, you really need to consider the extra cost you're paying for in time and how much Kinko's inflates prices. We realized that quickly and just bought the printers, scanner and office supplies. Now we're saving a lot." – Andy Karuza, FenSens
4. Previous experience
"Many new companies can get excited when purchasing new hardware and end up spending money on equipment they don't really need. So, take a look at your previous experience. What tasks were you handling every day that required particular office hardware? Thinking about your previous needs will help you determine what you need for the future." – Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms
5. Future business vision and plan
"Too many entrepreneurs focus on their short-term needs instead of their long-term business plan when buying hardware. Before buying anything, I ask, 'How does this fit into my company vision, and how does it get me closer to my business goals?' This long-term perspective helps me focus on how cost, obsolescence, and the ability to scale fit into my current business model and future business plans." – Shaun Conrad, My Accounting Course
6. Team feedback
"There are certain matters that should be decided by the management, but in the case of office hardware, it's always best to consider team feedback. It's your team who will use these tools frequently in their day-to-day work. They know best what they need, and they usually stay updated on the best tools for the trade." – Diego Orjuela, Cables & Sensors
7. Team comfort and performance
"Most of my team works remote, which means we're actually buying more peripherals than if they were working in the office. Your team should feel comfortable, cared for, and have access to everything they need. That doesn't mean you have to load them up with carbon fiber gaming chairs, but that does mean new laptops, Turtle Beach headsets and a full week's supply of G Fuel to keep them at their peak." – Ali Mahvan, Sharebert
8. Future cost projections
"Especially when investing in servers, large hardware deployments or other high-value equipment, future projections should be critical to decision-making. Opting for a cheaper or short-term solution will likely incur additional maintenance and upgrade costs. Alternatively, a longer-lasting solution is one that has the scalability and adaptability to accommodate business changes and growth." – Jack Tai, OneClass
9. Accurate usage
"We use large monitors and laptops. Certain teams require larger screens for design work, while others perform just as well with a laptop. The usage analysis is the key. Maintain feedback loops from your teams and assess the digital hardware that is most useful as well, in terms of Salesforce or other lead management software. In our business, Microsoft Office has been more than adequate." – Matthew Capala, Alphametic