Technology is a wonderful thing. Keeping up with technology . . . now that's another story.
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Although you can't do business without it, the cost of upgrading your technology can easily kill your company's budget. Luckily, there are ways to minimize the financial impact of technology updates, keeping your technology - and your budget - on track.
Create a Technology Plan
Boy scouts aren't the only ones who need to be prepared. When it comes to running a small business there's no substitute for being planning and preparation. Chances are you already have a business plan and financial plan, so why not add a tech plan to your repertoire?
A tech plan is a multi-year strategy to maintain and upgrade the hardware, software, and networking that is vital to the successful operation of your business. There are a lot of advantages to a tech plan, but one of ones is that you'll avoid sticker shock because you'll be able to stage your upgrades over a period of time.
Prioritize Technology Purchases
Prioritization is another useful tool in technology upgrading. Sure, it would be nice to order a new Blackberry for yourself, but if it means not being able to upgrade your accounting software then you can probably live without it. A tech plan will get the prioritization ball rolling, but maintaining a prioritization mentality - that's up to you.
Assess Needs vs. Wants
Technology is constantly changing, making it a potentially bottomless pit for your hard-earned cash. Smart business owners quickly learn difference between the technology they want and the technology they can afford. In some cases, you can't avoid buying the most up-to-date products, particularly when it comes to mission-critical software. But for non-critical technology, you can usually get by using last year's products rather than the latest and greatest gadgets on the market. It never hurts to have a wish list, but before purchasing upgrades ask yourself the hard question: Do you really need it or do you really want it?
Buy at a Discount
Once you've decided what you need to buy, the next question is where to buy it. Suppliers for specialized technology will be limited, but for your general technological needs you have a lot of options to choose from.
Ironically, one option is to use technology to buy technology. E-bay offers products from a variety of suppliers, making it easy to compare prices. It also lists used merchandise, which may be an option in a financial pinch.
Business liquidations are another solid source for technology upgrades. Unfortunately, many small businesses close their doors every day. When a business closes, it's not uncommon for them to liquidate their capital assets - including their technological assets. Although it's sad to see a business close, you might save a bundle by helping them turn their technology into cash.