Getting started with the right PC
A PC is probably already at the centre of your business essentials – or is part of your immediate plans – helping you do your books, communicate with your customers and create and store important documents.
Underpinning your computer programs is the operating system – and it's vital you get the right one because it will help you work faster and more productively.
With Windows 7 Professional [http://www.microsoft.com/business/en-gb/products/Pages/Windows-7.aspx], you get a fast, secure operating system, built-in document and email search so you can find the information you need more quickly and easily, and time-saving functions like Snap, Peek and multi-tasking. Your browser is important too - Internet Explorer [http://www.microsoft.com/business/en-gb/products/Pages/Internet-Explorer-8.aspx] provides fast, secure browsing, and features such as Accelerators that serve information, ie maps, on the same page.
If you're looking to buy either just an operating system or a new PC as well, it's worth browsing special offers from online retailers such as BT Business Direct, Insight, Dell, HP, Amazon etc. You can find more on how to buy PCs and Windows 7 – on Microsoft's small business website [http://www.microsoft.com/business/en-gb/how-to-buy/Pages/1-4-copies.aspx].
Always connected wherever you are
You can't always be at your desk, but that shouldn't mean your business has to stand still. When you or your staff are working from home, have downtime while travelling or need to work at a client's office where access to files or the Internet may be limited, you still need to be in touch with the people that matter.
With the right mobile technology, this time can be just as productive on the go as when you're at the office. Windows Phone 7 [http://www.microsoft.com/windowsphone/en-gb/buy/7/phones.aspx] lets you use the same software you have in the office, access email, diary and contacts so you don't miss anything important and get on the Internet quickly (additional charges may apply). So you can be in the office even when you're not.
Be professional with the right tools
Any business needs to make sure they look professional, whether it's with marketing materials, email newsletters or invoices.
The best way to achieve this is with a set of programs that are simple to use but with powerful features, and that can be used without the requirement for specialist skills. With Microsoft Office 2010 Professional [http://www.microsoft.com/business/en-gb/products/Office-2010/Pages/Office-2010-Pro.aspx], you get all the tools you need for creating professional documents, presentations and financial charts thanks to Word, PowerPoint and Excel. This latest version of Office features many shortcuts that over the course of a day can help save valuable time to help keep you in contact with customers, suppliers and staff. The calendar, email, task and contact features in Outlook are second-to-none.
Microsoft Publisher 2010, part of the Office Professional 2010 suite, is – deservedly – a very popular program that can help you achieve professional-looking brochures and sales collateral. Improved tools enable you to work with photos easily, helping you save money by providing the results you want. Whether you're creating brochures, newsletters, postcards, greeting cards, or email newsletters, you can deliver quality results without hiring or needing to be a graphic designer.
Open up an online sales channel
A website is an essential sales tool for any small business – even if it's just a single page with your name and contact details on it. Online is the first place most people go to when they need something - and if you're not online you could be missing out on sales.
A professional looking website isn't as difficult to create as you may think. And it doesn't need to cost the earth either. With the right tools and templates to hand, you can build a website quickly and easily, even if you've got absolutely no technical knowledge. And if you want the hosting of your website to be free, come with professional email accounts and online support to help you if you get stuck, Microsoft Office Live Small Business [http://www.microsoft.com/business/en-gb/products/Pages/Office-Live-Small-Business.aspx] is just what you're looking for.
For more information on starting and growing your business visit Microsoft's small business website. http://www.microsoft.com/business/en-gb/Pages/default.aspx