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The 5 pieces of equipment you (really) need when starting a small business

by Holly & Co

So you’ve found your diamond and you’re ready to take the leap into running a small business — go you! This is the most exciting part of your journey as a founder, but you are likely to find it’s also one of the most overwhelming, as there are so many decisions to make in these early stages. One of the first of these is exactly what equipment you need to get your business up and running — and it’s an important one, if you want to spend your budget wisely.

There’s an abundance of information out there (which is brilliant, but we know from speaking to founders that it can sometimes cause ‘information overload’). So how do you cut through the noise to avoid spending more than you need to on unnecessary items? Take a deep breath and dive into our beginner’s guide on the five pieces of kit we think you should consider (then make yourself a big cup of tea and remember that amazing things are coming your way…).

1. A phone with a good camera

Product imagery is a common worry for small business owners, but there’s no need to overcomplicate things or spend too much money (at least to begin with) on getting that perfect shot. Most smartphones nowadays have cameras that will take high quality photos in various formats (in fact, there are all sorts of brilliant features to be found, that you probably didn’t even know existed), so save yourself some extra cash in your early months and see what you can do with what you already have in the palm of your hand (or pocket).  

If you’re due (or overdue) an upgrade, prioritise a brilliant camera with plenty of storage on your next device. That’s really all you need to get snapping (along with a sprinkle of creativity to come up with beautiful flatlays and backdrops for your perfect shot). If you’re stuck for inspiration, there are plenty of people out there giving away free tips and ideas on how to take photos on an iPhone on social media (Instagram and TikTok often have lots of video tutorials in this area). 

2. A tripod 

Ok so here is something else that is worth investing in at an early stage, and that’s a tripod fit for all those brilliant photos you’ll be taking. They are pretty inexpensive if you do your research, plus they open up a whole new realm of content that you can create to help market your business. Think beautiful videos of you making your products, well framed photographs and even things like time lapses if they suit your brand, as the tripod helps keep the camera steady. 

With customers consuming more and more video content by the day, a tripod will help you capture high quality content for all the Reels (and, brace yourself, maybe even TikToks) you might be creating to help sell your products and services. Or at the very least, they are brilliant for all those ‘face to camera’ moments you might need to do on Instagram Stories, or even to help connect with people through your website or emails. 

3. A reliable laptop

This is probably the most important piece of kit you’ll own, aside from the tools you need to actually make your creations. From building your website, to uploading products, or even just responding to emails, your laptop is a vital extension of your business and so you need to make sure it’s fit for the job. There is nothing more frustrating than having to wait minutes for files to load or open, especially as time really is of the essence when you’re running a small business. 

Prioritise a brilliant camera with plenty of storage on your next device. That’s really all you need to get snapping (along with a sprinkle of creativity to come up with beautiful flatlays and backdrops for your perfect shot).

Now laptops aren’t for everyone. If you really are purely studio or home / office-based, you might prefer a desktop (read this article to help you decide). But if you prefer the flexibility of a mobile computer, which many founders do, you need to find the right one for you. 

We’re very proud to be partnered with Dell Technologies, who we happen to think are a brilliant choice. Not only are they industry-leading and well-reviewed, but they are huge small business champions (in fact, they’ve kindly offered all Holly & Co readers 6% off Dell products as they want to empower founders with the tools and technology you need to succeed. More on that here). 

If you’re not sure where to start, we’re big fans of the Latitude 9330 laptops at Holly & Co HQ — o…or you can speak to a friendly Dell Small Busienss Tech Advisor for free on 0800 085 4878, who will be able to point you in the right direction to find your perfect match. For all you service-led small business owners reading this, Dell laptops are also brilliant for virtual meetings, as they feature a super slick camera, brilliant sound and an in-built microphone (so no need for an additional headset).

The other main benefit is that they are built around those working in creative roles so Macs really aren’t the only option. The XPS and Precision products are specifically equipped with tech that helps accelerate your creative apps, for example, and offer benefits like professional level graphics, colour accuracy and AI that learns the way you like to work then provides relevant shortcuts, so it’s worth looking into those too. 

4. A decent printer 

Ah, printers… we so often get off on the wrong foot with them, don’t we? Sadly, a necessary evil when running a small business, as they are the solution for printing every order slip and invoice you’ll need to include in product packages most days. Plus, it’s incredibly handy to have a printer within arm’s reach for all those moments where you need marketing materials printed quickly. We couldn’t live without ours. 

It’s a bit of a minefield out there when it comes to which model and specification is right for you but, you guessed it, luckily those brilliant folks at Dell Technologies can help in this area too (plus you can earn Dell Rewards points if you shop through their website, which helps towards extra money off on other products — win win). Our advice is to speak to your small business friends who have similar needs to yours too, as personal recommendations are often a great help in finding the right one for you. 

5. A thermal label printer

Our last consideration isn’t for everyone, but if you’re a product-based business that aims to fulfil many tens (or even hundreds) of packages a day, this might just save you time, money and even sanity. Thermal label printers are a brilliant extension to your standard printer, as they don’t require ink (instead they use a clever paper that reacts to the heat of the printer) and they can print many hundreds of labels in one go, direct from your chosen fulfilment service (such as Royal Mail). It’s a more sustainable way to package your products, as you have no need for sticky tape to attach the label, and you won’t find yourself running through lots of expensive ink cartridges either.

Make sure to do your research though (and ask your small business friends again for their advice), as there are several models out there. You need to ensure that the one you choose is compatible with both your computer and the labels that your chosen fulfilment provider generates. 

If you found this article helpful, we have even more advice for this crucial stage of your business journey, which aims to set you on the right path to success. Check out our ‘Starting A Business’ category for top tips and tricks from our founder Holly Tucker MBE, and other small business founders who have walked this path before. Most importantly, good luck.

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