Business Tech on a Budget

eHow Tech Blog

As the creator of a startup, I know how important it can be to keep to a budget. Thankfully, there are plenty of tools and strategies to help keep your company’s tech department costs down. You can keep them so low, in fact, that you might not even need to hire an IT guy. Here are some pointers.

Use Google Docs. Google Docs is a fantastic alternative to Microsoft’s Office Suite. Why? Because it’s a free alternative that works incredibly well. You might not be able to create stellar PowerPoint presentations, but you can work collaboratively with your employees no matter where you are. Say you’re working on a spreadsheet, for example. Google Docs, now part of Google Drive, allows you to easily see and edit a document with several employees at the same time. Better yet, you can work on a document pitch to investors in real-time, so that everyone is (literally) on the same page.

Your documents can also be tweaked quickly and efficiently from mobile devices. If you’re an Android or iOS user, simply login to your account and all of the documents you’ve been working on are available for editing. Or, better yet, for showing off during that always important one-minute elevator pitch.

Switch to a Shared Data Plan. AT&T and Verizon Wireless both recently introduced shared data plans. AT&T calls its option Mobile Share, while Verizon’s is called Share Everything. In the past, you needed to subscribe to a separate data plan for every single device that consumed data. Now, you can own a tablet, a smartphone and a mobile hotspot and share a single bucket of data for each device. You’ll pay a lower monthly fee for each data-hungry electronic you have on your account.

Use Free Cloud Storage. Google Drive. Sugar Sync. DropBox. iCloud. SkyDrive. Remember those names and take advantage of them. Each one offers compelling free storage options, most of which provide at least 2GB of space (SugarSync offers 5GB right now). That’s more than enough room for your spreadsheets, presentations, and documents. You can always add more storage later, too. SugarSync, for example, charges just $4.99 per month for 30GB of storage, or $49.99 a year. That’s enough for 3,000 documents! Better yet, each of the aforementioned services allows you to have access to all of your stored files from most mobile devices.

Buy Refurbished Equipment. Most computer manufacturers sell refurbished equipment at great discounts and with similar warranties as new products. A brand new MacBook Air costs $999, for example, but a refurbished one with slightly different specs can be snatched up for just $679 right now. Dell’s entry-level Latitude E5520 costs between $619 and $729, depending on the hardware.

Stick to the Basics. This is probably the most important advice I can offer: stick to the basics. It might be tempting to buy the most expensive hardware and software on the market, but you really need to ask yourself if it’s a wise business choice. Why spend hundreds of dollars on Microsoft Office if you only need access to a basic spreadsheet application, which Google offers for free? Follow the tips above and I guarantee you’ll save thousands of dollars that can be spent elsewhere, like on hiring that amazing developer you’ve had your eye on.

Photo credit: Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images

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