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How to use technology to save your business money

Technology that helps SOHOs run efficiently, keeping overheads low

Running a SOHO (small office; home office) business can be tricky. You have to keep costs down but have a quality product that stands out from the crowd. We take a look at some of the best technology available to help you run a successful business.

Most of our communications these days are electronic, but printed documents still have their place. Just because we receive our instructions by email and do our research on the web, it doesn’t mean there’s no longer a need to print out travel directions, tickets to conferences, notes on about a client we’re about to visit or copies of our latest sales figures to discuss with colleagues. 

Office printing is alive and well and still plays a vital role. In fact, there are now more options for printing than ever before. Some form of networked printer setup is a given in almost every office. Almost every office has a networked printer setup, but remote printing, print archiving and cloud printing are newer innovations that add flexibility and allow staff more control over how and where they work. Visit Printing Advisor for help with printing.

Small businesses tend to create small networks and make use of the wireless connectivity options found on even inexpensive printers. If any technology has changed the way items in our offices interact, it’s Wi-Fi. Rather than pricey print servers and file servers that store and serve up centrally located documents and templates, we can now navigate to the printer we want to use for that particular print job. This means a typical small office with between five and 15 fifteen employees can mix and match its printers and keep overheads low. Not everyone will need to print to a speedy colour laser printer; a much cheaper inkjet model that can be used for everyday document printing and that can be set up to print using black ink only for most jobs may well be the most economical option. 

PCs and laptops aren’t the only options for office printing, of course. It’s possible to print from an iPad or iPhone, a camera or even video camera. Some of the print tasks we routinely perform may not end up as physically printed documents – printing to PDF is an excellent way of archiving important information, for example. In contrast to other countries, in the UK, most businesses are small and micro businesses. We are more likely to come up with a compelling business idea, kit out office premises quickly and inexpensively and get down to the nitty gritty of building our business than to spend months installing expensive networking and communications equipment that prevents us from getting established. 

This agility and adaptability is just the sort of approach that’s needed when it comes to competing in the fast-paced world of business startups. A ‘set up and go’ office – or even a virtual office – involving Wi-Fi, laptops that can be taken out and about to client meetings, tablets for one on one meetings, and on-demand printing options, characterise the typical successful UK small business. 

Space and cost saving demands are a given. We favour hardware that can perform several duties which is why the inclusion of solid scanning and photocopying duties as well as economical printing make Kodak Hero All-In-One printers ideal. They can be used to print directly from a single PC or accessed by other colleagues’ computers over a simple to set up Wi-Fi sharing option. This even obviates the need for dedicated networking hardware, ensuring IT infrastructure costs are kept to a minimum and convenience is maximised. When ink supplies run low, you get an alert that need consumables are needed. And if you've a rush job on, having a generous paper tray that can take up to 200 sheets at a time, saves you having to stand by the printer and keep filling it up with more. 

Better yet, this convenience doesn’t come with a hefty price tag attached. Time and again, Kodak inkjet printers have come out top of the tree when tested against other models of office printer for speed, print quality and – most importantly – value. It’s an open secret that printing costs are about far more than the initial purchase price of the printer. Cartridge costs add a significant amount to the overall expense of running an office printer. If you can afford to buy a printer but can’t afford to replenish the ink when it runs out, you’ve wasted your money. 

Kodak believes there’s no need for ink to cost as much as some printer manufacturers charge and has forged a trail in the bid to drive down the cost of printing. Business users can’t afford not to be able to print documents and while colour printing will always command a small premium over printing purely in black and white, being able to use your office printer to produce your corporate stationery with your colour logo saves you having to go to a copy shop and have expensive letterheads created. Producing your own marketing materials, complete with well chosen images in full colour, can also be done economically on Kodak’s All-In-One Hero printers. Print quality is not sacrificed, but the amount you can save by printing your own collateral rather than outsourcing, is significant. 

The prevelance of Wi-Fi hotspots, and near universal 3G access mobile internet, ensure that you no longer have to be in the same place as your printer to print a documenton the road mean you aren’t restricted to printing wirelessly within your office environment. This could mean a With the right equipment you can easily print documents on a laptop, but with the right app print jobs could just as easily be called up sent via a tablet or even a smartphone. 

If you can log on to your office network from your Android tablet, access and print out an updated copy of your sales figures by redirecting it to a local printer, you can spend more time on the road meeting clients face to face. Utilities such as the Kodak Document Print App not only allow this, but also let you print out documents you routinely store in Google Docs and may need to call on at any time. You can even open Microsoft Word documents and print them out on a Kodak All-In-One Printer by making use of Google Cloud Print. An equivalent app for iPad and iPhone users will enable iOS users to enjoy the same business convenience. 

Web services and localised apps on tablets and smartphones have revolutionised the way we conduct our small business affairs. Invaluable cloud services such as Wave Accounting and Evernote help us keep on top of our finances and our contacts, while powerful apps such as Bento helps us manage everything from stock control to progress with our projects. It’s even possible to complete your tax return via an online form and upload it to the HMRC website for electronic filing. A combination of being able to store such important documents securely on the web, call them up on any device, print them to the nearest available print that offers cloud printing support, give our tax return a once over and then send it to the taxman provides peace of mind too. 

While other printer manufacturers offer ways to access your documents from your smartphone and send them to print, not all allow you to do so on older printer models. With Kodak, you don’t need to invest in new printer hardware in order to take advantage of convenient features such as cloud and email printing. Both Kodak Email Print and Google Cloud Print are compatible with previous generation models of All-In-One printers. Kodak is thus the first printer manufacturer to offer cloud printing convenience to existing customers. 

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