How to make your hardware work harder (without being a tech genius)
You’re a small business owner and you’re working virtually. Just like any other business, there are lots of departments, including marketing, HR, payroll, snack fetcher (critical!), and technology (cue scary music).
Didn’t think you’d have to be an IT professional in your business, did you? Bottom line: if you run a business and depend on the equipment you use, do not trudge on when these things start to fail you. Do not wince at the thought of replacing them. Do not risk being without your crucially valuable revenue-generating tools … just to save a bit of change now.
Let’s illustrate this with an example of what I’m getting at here. Let’s use John.
John wakes up extra chipper one glorious morning. He’s ready to get the day started. Yay, John! John sits down with his hot cup of coffee, he smiles, turns on the computer, and stares blankly, in total confusion, at the words on the screen.
John’s panicked by what he sees: the unwanted, terrifying, flickering blue screen of DEATH! Then, it hits him. John is the IT guy around here. He has to figure this out or there’s no work, no income and angry clients on top of it all. John’s sad. Don’t be John. He’s grumpy now—very, very grumpy.
Your hardware is critical to your operations. It’s HOW you can do the work that you do. It’s HOW you can make the money that you make.
The tools that you choose to use can make your business run faster, more efficiently, and with so much ease that you’ll think you’re on vacation in the Bahamas (maybe). The tools you choose to use can also make your business run slowly, more chaotically, and with so much difficulty that you’ll think you’ve been suddenly locked in a sauna with a faulty thermostat. Choose your own adventure, friends. Let’s make your workday a lot easier, more fun, and as stress-free as possible. Starting now.
By the way, there’s a reason I’m writing this. I love technology. I mean … LOVE it. Daily, I’m discovering just-released products, exploring new features, and finding ways to leverage all of it. It’s incredible what’s out there and how it can work for you.
Knowing your way around the equipment you need is key to running an efficient small business.
I’ve got some good news for you! It’s not always about spending money; it’s about finding the tools that work for you. Yes, you can find tools that are both affordable and customized for how you want to work.
Running your business on your old PC that makes that funny noise every time you open a browser, and clicks loudly when you power it down, isn’t going to do you much good. Let’s get real—you’ve got a business, not a hobby. Let’s get you (and your team) the tools you need.
Let’s talk about maximizing your hardware. Here are some of the tools you’ll need:
Monitor (and potentially TV) placement. Here’s what my setup looks like. I have my primary monitor, secondary monitor, and a TV on the wall. This TV is placed in a way where it acts as a third monitor. I call it my “webinar monitor” because that’s what I use to catch up on all the webinars and education sessions I have stacked up. I’m able to do this by pushing anything I can watch on my iPad to the TV directly through my Apple TV. It works amazingly well and allows me to continue working with two monitors, while passively watching a webinar.
While we’re on the topic of monitors, swivel it. With this handy dual monitor mount, you get 360-degree rotation. I turn my second monitor vertically. With the vertical set up, I can edit a Google Doc and see the full page, and scrolling websites becomes incredibly easy, too. I’ve only had this setup for a few weeks, and I will never go back to two landscape monitors again.
Router. Don’t use the cable company’s router, as that has limited range and sometimes throttled speeds. You’ll get better coverage with a router like this one. I am not someone who understands routers, but this puppy only took 12 minutes to get setup. Now, I have Wi-Fi at the furthest point in the house and at full speeds.
Connect your analog and digital worlds. reMarkable is a genuinely revolutionary paper tablet. No printer, no paper mess, and no clutter—just one tablet with all the functions you need to write, just like you do on paper. Once you’ve taken notes, upload them to your cloud storage and wipe the page clean. It’s magic! My friend, Madeline Pratt, loves reMarkable.
“I’m a huge note taker. My brain works in a way where writing things down helps me recall information quickly, and keeps me engaged in the conversations I’m having all day long. I can jot notes that are instantly digitally documented, transcribed, and can be easily shared with clients in seconds. It’s an absolute game changer.” – Madeline Pratt
Connect your analog, and digital worlds (the more affordable option). Rocketbook is the last notebook you’ll buy, seriously.
Chairs are hardware in my book, and they should be considered so in your book, too! Something like this is perfect. It’s simple, functional, comfy and, for those of us with back issues, a good chair is even more important.
Memory. Not hard drive space, but RAM. Power up your computer’s memory by adding some memory to your computer. You’ll get better quality media and a faster overall performance.
An amazing mouse. If you’re working in spreadsheets a lot (and something tells me you do), then a multi-functional mouse like this one will change the way you work. This mouse allows you to go left and right, not just up and down. This is the mouse of the future. In addition to buttons that scroll spreadsheets left to right, I have also programmed buttons for cut, copy, and paste. I can no longer imagine having a three-button mouse.
The best keyboard. This one is wireless, sleek, and backlit. When working late nights, the backlit keyboard is a lifesaver, and the keyboard layout is just like you remember from the old days. But, there’s one more thing—this keyboard has whisper quiet keys that make almost no sound. I have not quite utilized the wheel attached to the upper left side yet, but who cares. No more complaints from my husband about my aggressive keyboarding.
The best on the go keyboard. Laser keyboard, anyone? This keyboard has come straight from the future! It not only saves you desk space, but it’s also portable and compatible with multiple devices.
A good webcam. If you are on Zoom six to eight hours a day like me, you know a good webcam is essential. A good webcam like this one makes all the difference. This webcam has a built-in light so you won’t be the one on the meeting with the bad lighting.
Mic. You should be heard loud and clear. The right mic is crucial. Don’t make other people think they’ve accidentally muted you! Work undistracted from sound going in and out while you are talking.
All of the hardware recommendations here are straight from my own toolbox and desk. Putting these to use has been a complete game changer for my virtual office. Tech should help you increase output without burning out. It’s not meant to overwhelm you, but instead, to help you achieve more with extra ease and in less time.
What are your own favorite hardware hacks?