51 Tips For Saving Money on Technology

This article was originally published in September 2009, but as I was reviewing it I find that it is still just as relevant today.

By The Readers of Small Business Trends

PRACTICAL TESTED TIPS

We asked the readers of Small Business Trends to contribute their best real-world tips and advice for how small businesses like yours can save money by using  technology, or how to save money on technology purchases. The following tips and pointers represent the combined wisdom of small business owners, their staff and stakeholders.

Anita Campbell, Editor, Small Business Trends

BUY POWERFUL COMPUTERS TO LAST LONGER

“Initially purchase more hard drive, memory and a larger monitor than comes standard. It will increase the useful life of your computer and decrease your costs in the long run.”

Shared by: Leslie Knight, Knight Performance Management, LLC, www.knightpm.com

Twitter: @ITMinefield

USE GOOGLE ALERTS TO FIND DEALS

“Before I make a decision on a piece of technology, I scour the review type websites like CNET and PC Magazine. I pick two items that have great reviews, and set Google Alerts for them-with the word “deals” next to them. For the next few days I monitor the prices that come up, and buy when the time is right. This works!”

Shared by: Joel Libava, The Franchise King, www.TheFranchiseKing.com

Twitter: @FranchiseKing

GO EASY ON WEBSITE BELLS AND WHISTLES

“Talk to your customer before you build your website. You may be surprised that she will not use more than 50% of what you are going to build. That’s 50% savings in technology budget and time.”

Shared by: Chaitanya Sagar, People to Work With, p2w2.com

Twitter: @Chaitanya

USE HOSTED SERVICES AND OPEN-SOURCE SOFTWARE

“Many are free, like Thunderbird, and are better than most paid alternatives. Others, like Jive’s hosted PBX, are significantly less expensive than the traditional products. Switching from Microsoft Office to OpenOffice alone will save you about $100 per user per year.”

Shared by: Brent Thompson, Jive Communications, www.getjive.com

Twitter: @GetJive

SWITCH TO FREE ONLINE BOOKKEEPING SOFTWARE

“I had a tough time when my computer crashed right before April and so I scrambled to find another solution where I would not have to depend on doing books on one computer. I chose www.outright.com and like it very much as I can enter my expenses from any computer. It’s FREE.”

USE DISCUSSION FORUMS TO LOCATE DISCOUNTS

“When shopping for technology products, this site can be addictive: www.Slickdeals.net . The forums are full of deals submitted by users and sometimes there are great bargains. Check this site first for coupons or deals before shopping for technology products. I saved $5 in Best Buy last week with a coupon from here.”

GO TO SWAP/EXCHANGE WEBSITES FOR BUSINESS BOOKS

“Read business books by renting them or swapping them: bookcrossing.com, bookins.com, bookmooch.com, and PaperBackSwap.com.”

Above 3 Tips Shared by: Shashi Bellamkonda, Network Solutions, blog.networksolutions.com

Twitter: @Shashib

Read more…

© Copyright 2009, Small Business Trends LLC – http://smallbiztrends.com Reprint/ posting permission granted so long as this work is published in its entirety.

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Lessons Learned: Month 4

My husband has been deployed for 4 months now. Looking back gives the impression that time has flown by, but as it is passing it seems excruciatingly slow. A few more months to go, but we are on the downslide now.

Lessons Learned: Month 4

  • Put yourself at the top of the list – Don’t just give it lip service, do it! You’d think I would have figured that out in month 1, but for some odd reason human nature turns us into martyrs. We consistently slip to the bottom of the priority list, the section that we never get to. We tell ourselves that it’s only temporary and that sacrifices are necessary. Sleep – who needs it, meals – sitting or sometimes eating is optional, breaks – yeah right, relaxation – what’s that? If we are not careful, we sacrifice ourselves right into burn-out.
  • Approach a deployment as a 2nd job – We absorb dual parental responsibility, extra household responsibility and sometimes additional family responsibilities. In addition we need to set aside time to communicate and care for our partner from afar. Whether that takes the form of email, phone, Skype, mailing packages or all of the above, it is an additional time commitment that wasn’t there before. I received some very wise counsel this month from a brutally honest confidant. “You were operating with a full plate before your husband left. How did you honestly expect to absorb all of these extra demands and still keep everything in the air?” Well, I guess I never thought about it that way. Now I will.

This month’s take-aways; self-care is non-negotiable, delegate, defer or delete responsibilities to make room for extra demands.

Today I am grateful for the biggest lesson I have learned so far: Taking care of myself is the foundation for a fulfilling, purposeful life.

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Do You Have a Supply Strategy For Your Office or Home?

Here’s a hint: You should.

Do you know when to order and when to wait? How you can make the most of your limited dollars without sacrificing in other areas? Have you identified your usage cycle?

Let’s look at some examples of supply strategies that I have seen:

The “just in time” model:

  • The rationale behind this strategy is “There’s always more.”
  • These people keep just what they need on hand and no more. When they run out of paper, pens, paper towels, notebooks, cleaning supplies, materials or whatever, they pick up the phone or run out to the store for more. Why should I spend my money on buying extra when I can just get it when I need it?
  • The upside – You don’t spend money or waste storage space before you need to.
  • The downside – You risk paying top dollar by missing sales and quantity discounts, work is delayed when you run out of something and time and effort are required now to procure more supplies.

The “hoarder” model:

  • The rationale behind this strategy is “Never run out.”
  • These people keep stores of supplies so they will never run out of anything. They have full storage areas, shelves and basements. They order in bulk and buy at a discount whenever possible.
  • The upside – You never run out and supplies are within arm’s reach.
  • The downside – You spend money upfront that could be spent in other ways, storage space is required that could be utilized for something else and you risk “spoilage” – damp paper, dried up pens, obsolete supplies that are no longer useful or necessary.

Isn’t there a better way? A more sound supply management strategy? So glad you asked.

I suggest the “maximizing” model:

  • The rationale behind this strategy is “Make the most of all available resources.”
  • Asses your usage cycle – know how much of each type of supply you require in a given time period. I recommend 3–6 months.
  • Purchase supplies when they are on sale or at a discount, but only enough to get through your 3-6 month cycle. Batch by ordering different supplies together to minimize time spent ordering and save on shipping or purchasing costs.
  • The upside – You won’t run out, you reduce storage space, you save time and money and cut supply waste. You gain the satisfaction of knowing that you are maximizing your resources.
  • The downside – Uh…You have to be careful not to appear too smug to your friends and colleagues.
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Are You Sabotaging Yourself: Top 5 Strategies to Set Yourself Up for Success

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You may be sabotaging yourself and not even realize it. I mean really who wants to interfere with their own success and cause more unnecessary stress? Apparently most of us do. Do you say yes to projects or activities that you don’t have time for? Do you plan more in your day than is humanly possible to get done? Do you stop to answer the phone or check email while in the middle of a project? Do you get sidetracked by co-workers, children or incoming information? Do you spend time on activities that are not essential? I have been guilty of most if not all of these productivity saboteurs at one time or another.

So what can you do to set yourself up for success at home or at work?

Stop sabotaging yourself!

My top 5 strategies to keep you on the path to an organized and productive day:

Set your top 3 priorities before you start your day – I cannot hammer this home enough. It is crucial.

Set aside an uninterrupted window of time to focus on your most important tasks( I recommend 60 – 90 minutes) – That means door closed, phone on silent, email checking disabled and IM turned off. At home it may mean children napping or otherwise occupied (pets too.)

Have your list of core concentrations in front of you (mine are posted above my desk) – Don’t have a list of core concentrations? Make that your priority for today. Use this list when deciding what projects or activities to say yes too. If it’s not on that list, the answer is no! That is unless you have an abundance of free time, in which case you wouldn’t be worried about being more organized, now would you?  Also use it to set your priorities for the day or week.

Remember to work in blocks and take regular breaks – Fatigue is the number one obstacle to productivity. Your energy and ability to focus are impaired when you don’t take time to recharge throughout your day. As little as a few minutes to stretch, get a drink or step outside can work wonders.

Stop addictive online behaviors – Check email at specified times. Set a limit on time spent on social media, games, statistics/analytics and information intake. Set aside specific times and a set time limit for these activities. Those activities may be a part of your schedule, but they are generally not income producing activities.

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How to Keep Your Printed Documents Organized

Today’s post is a guest post contributed by James Adams, a technology and productivity blogger.

 For those who work in a busy office, time-management is one of the most important things one can learn. After all, not being able to manage time effectively can lead to serious issues within an office, from missing meetings to just simply not getting enough work done in a day’s time.

One of the basic tenants of time management is organization. Learning how to organize one’s workstation is crucially important to getting a lot of work done throughout a day, and perhaps the most important aspect of this is keeping one’s printed documents organized at all times. While many people have immense problems learning how to organize their documents correctly, the fact is that once one learns just a few basic strategies, organization practically falls into place and can make the day far more productive.

Here are five great ways to get your documents organized, reduce clutter and be efficient and ultimately feel happier at work.

1. Set Up Your Office Strategically

One of the biggest hurdles for those who struggle with organization is directly related to the setup of the office. While most offices try to keep printers and copiers central to each workstation, others feel as if the dark corner at the back of the office is the best place to put their machines. This inevitably leads to issues, as employees don’t want to have to trek to the back of the building to pick up their printouts every ten minutes. By centralizing your copiers and printers, you’ll be making the situation far easier on your employees, and will ultimately be helping to improve organization throughout the office.

2. Keep Employees on the Same Track

Many offices fall prey to employees that print out documents, only to leave them sitting in the printer for half of the day before they pick them up. This is by far one of the worst organizational caveats, as it is close to impossible to stay organized when random printouts are hogging up the printer. By making it clear to your employees that this is not okay, you can minimize the potential for backup that might be affecting your office.

3. Only print what is Needed

Another issue that plagues many offices throughout the world is the employee that prints out absolutely everything – even emails! The fact is printing out every document that graces the computer screen is simply unnecessary. Not only does it lead to disorganization, it is frankly a huge waste of paper, ink and resources. By having a dialogue with your employees and stating that only necessary documents should be printed, you can put a halt on this issue before it gets out of hand. The more one is allowed to print anything they want, the worse the situation will get.

4. Reduce Stacks

Many people allow piles upon piles of printed documents to take ownership of their workstations, concluding that dealing with them at the end of the week is the best way to go about things. This couldn’t be farther from the truth, and often results in lost time and heavy disorganization. Instead of waiting until the end of the week to deal with stacks, make an effort to not allow them to accumulate at all. If you must use stacks (as this is simply how some people operate), be sure to deal with them before leaving work at the end of each day; otherwise, you’re bound to lose track of important documents.

5. Create a Filing System

One of the most important things you can do to prevent being disorganized is to create an extremely versatile filing system. Just as you wouldn’t place hundreds of documents on your computer’s desktop, you shouldn’t do so with your paper documents. By filing away your documents as soon as you are finished dealing with them, you’ll know exactly where everything is and will not have to deal with piles of random printouts. This is imperative for those who find that they often have to refer back to their documents at a later date, and is a crucial detail that should be learned early on in any career.

James Adams reviews ink supplies at Cartridge Save. He also writes for blogs around the web where he posts about the technology and productivity.

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