I remember when I started working for myself many years ago that I went into it thinking I was going to need the same office supplies that I had in my office at the job. Thus, I purchased, in volume, things such as pens and pencils, staples, notepads, and paper clips, along with a lot of other junk. Just 3 years later I still had almost all of that stuff because, it turned out, very few small or independent businesses need things like that. Sure, it might make sense to buy one of each of those things just in case but buying in bulk as I did… stupid move.

Portrait by Jonathan Worth 1, credit Jonathan Worth, link to http://jonathanworth.com
Creative Commons License Cory Doctorow via Compfight

One of the issues in doing things like that is that it creates debt that doesn’t serve you all that well. Truthfully, 12 years later I still have most of that stuff, and there’s nothing I can do with it other than thinking about throwing it away, and that’s not happening. And yet, every business does have to spend a bit of money before they get going, and be ready to spend other money once things start. This means there will be some debt that has to be incurred, but it doesn’t have to be all bad. These five tips offer business debt advice that’s beneficial and necessary that will do you great good, no matter what your business happens to be.

1. Computers. These days the word “computer” takes on so many more meanings than it did years ago, but whatever you call it or whatever form it manifests, you need some type of electronics of this sort. You need something to help you with your bookkeeping, writing email, creating flyers or sales presentations, save files, etc.

2. Cell or smartphone. You need a way to communicate with your clients because sometimes email just isn’t going to get it done. I didn’t mention a regular office phone because studies show that 40% of the American population doesn’t own a regular phone anymore, and that number is growing. Being able to contact your clients or staff while not being in the office as well as being able to be reached if you’re on the road, enhances your business greatly. And having a smartphone with the right applications on it can allow you to connect your schedules, files, and other things with the “cloud” or even with your computers and laptops.

3. Software. This one is pretty ambiguous and yet it needs to be on the list. So many people try to get by with insufficient software or keeping everything on paper and that’s just not the modern way. Desktop computers, laptops, tablets, etc, all have software you can use for both personal and business purposes. I already mentioned smartphones for business, and applications can be considered as software because many people are able to upload documents and spreadsheets, even Powerpoint applications to their smartphones, and then take those files with them and connect to viewers and projectors or just show the presentations on whatever platform they wish to use.

4. Printer/scanner. No business can get anything done without one of these. In the past one had to purchase each of these separately but it’s smarter to spend a few extra dollars and get a printer and scanner combined. It saves space, often has a port to connect to a phone line to use as a fax machine if you wish to go that route, and they can hold more paper, as well as having the ink last longer because the cartridges are larger. Yes, you can scan things and turn them into electronic files, which makes them easier to store, but sometimes you still have to print things out, such as if you need to sign a contract to send back to someone.

5. Helpful services. This one you don’t have to do right away but at some point very early on you need to think about allowing someone else to handle some of the things you do. In my case I started out by hiring someone to take care of my yard, which is pretty big and often took 3 hours out of my day. Later on I hired an accountant because I realized that even though I could do it, the time it took was overwhelming and I had my own business to concentrate on. Once every 3 or 4 months I have someone come in and do a thorough cleaning of some of the rooms in my house, as I have a home office. All of these saves a lot of time that I can spend trying to make money. And I get to write them all off on my business taxes; nothing wrong with that.

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