Setting up a small business

Tips & Hints

Getting the computer system right is an important first step for small businesses.

Posted 5 May 2003

Starting your own business is a time of great excitement and stress. You don’t need to add to that stress with bad computer purchases. We’ve put together the basics that make a good small business computer setup.


It doesn’t need to be the top-of-the-line model. Currently, a good small business computer will have a 60Gb hard drive and 512Mb of RAM. Make sure you get a computer has at least four USB connectors.


If you have more than one computer, you need a network. Sharing printers, files and Internet connections will save money. Networking software is built into all modern computers.

Internet connection

We recommend a broadband connection for home businesses. If you don’t expect to receive a lot of email, or you already have multiple phone lines into your business or home, then a permanent dial-up account is fine.

Laptop or desktop?

Notebook computers are attractive, compact and getting cheaper all the time. But if you are not going to be moving the computer around, go for a desktop. If portability is important, shop around and don’t compromise on memory and hard drive space.


For most small business a flatbed scanner is essential. In combination with a good printer, you have a photocopy. With fax software and a modem on your computer, you have a fax machine.

Laser printer

All but the smallest business should have a laser printer. If you need to occasionally print in colour, then get a second inkjet printer. Avoid multifunction units, printers, scanners and faxes rolled into one.


We’ve had mixed experience with computer based faxing. On some computers it works well, on others not at all. Some systems come with free fax software, but most now need programs such as Winfax Pro.


We can’t scream this often enough: You will lose data. Backups come in different forms and methods that we have covered previously. It is essential your import data is backed up.

Surge protection

The most common way computers die is through power surges. We recommend getting some sort of surge protection on your computer. Options range from a few dollars into the thousands, we’ve covered this subject in an earlier small business tip.


A whole issue in itself. Most new systems include some basic software. Most computer retailers offer packages with some business software included.

Accounting software is usually bought separately. If you are buying point of sale software, the vendor’s often provide the software and hardware in a combined package. Any specialist software should be discussed with your software vendor.

Ongoing support

Computers are like cars, they need repairs and maintenance. Having a good consultant or IT shop is essential for getting the most out of your systems. Find a reliable support company and stick with them.

Hardware and software hassles can tie up a lot of time. Computers that aren't set up properly or don't work stop small businesses getting on with what they do best. Getting the computers system right first time can save a lot of money for small business.

PC Rescue Pty Ltd
Suite 236, 4 Young Street Neutral Bay NSW 2089
ABN 082 635 765
ŠTechnology Publishing Australia, 2011