Do you make a living working with your hands? Do you own a bakery, where you spend the majority of your time crafting delicious treats? Or do you install custom motorcycle parts for two-wheel enthusiasts?
Whatever your passion is, as a small business owner, you know that you can’t get by without a computer, especially if you are a painting takeoff service. Even if computers aren’t directly relevant to your business model, they are still crucial to your success.
That’s why buying a small business laptop is as important as buying a commercial baking oven or a motorcycle jack. Without a laptop that is easily accessible, you won’t be able to respond to emails, book new clients, send out invoices, pay your taxes, or advertise your business.
So even if you’re not a computer whiz, you can still buy a good laptop for business use, which makes running your business a breeze. Here’s how to do it.
Define How You’ll Use Your Laptop
When searching for good laptops for business use, you’ll want to define exactly how you plan to use the computer. By considering your needs ahead of time, you can choose a computer with powerful enough hardware to get the job done.
Most small business owners need a laptop that can handle multitasking online. That means having multiple internet browser windows open. From checking your email inbox to tracking your expenses through your online bookkeeping platform, a computer that multitasks with ease is important.
But what other ways will you use the laptop? Will you use it at home, after work hours, to watch Netflix in bed? Do you like to play PC games to help get your mind off of work?
If so, you’ll need a computer that can handle these tasks. If you buy the cheapest laptop on the market, it won’t run very efficiently when streaming, gaming, or using heavy software.
A good laptop for small business owners is one that performs every function needed and is reliable on the job and at home.
A Modern Processor
One of the most important components of your business laptop is the processor (CPU). This is the brain of your computer, the place where information is processed and commands are given to every other component.
If you want a computer that is lightning fast and doesn’t lag when multitasking, you need a really good processor.
Most business laptops are powered by Intel processors. If choosing an Intel-powered laptop, try choosing a laptop featuring a 10th or 11th gen Intel core processor. The more cores that the processor has, the more power it’s going to contain.
If you opt for a MacBook for your business needs, then choose a model released in 2021 and beyond. These will contain Apple’s latest innovation, the M1 chip, which is their in-house processor. They used to use Intel processors as well, but wanted more control over the entire product, which led them to design their own.
Whichever route you choose, make sure to choose a model with as much RAM as you can afford. The more RAM you have, the faster your computer.
Integrated or Dedicated Graphics?
Most business owners aren’t concerned with their graphics functionality. And rightly so. If you’re just browsing the web and using cloud-based applications to run your business, you don’t need to concern yourself with the graphics.
But if you plan to use your computer for consuming video content, hosting video conferences, gaming, or editing photos and videos, then you’ll want to pay attention.
Your graphics processing unit (GPU) takes information from the central processing unit and turns it into useable images. The better the GPU, the faster images can be created and the higher quality these images will look.
Integrated graphics are cheaper, as the GPU is just built into the CPU, saving space and money. However, these two processors have to share resources, so it’s not the fastest solution in image-heavy applications.
A dedicated GPU is a standalone graphics processor. It adds weight and bulk to your laptop but is able to process visual information much more efficiently. It comes with a heftier price, too. So you only need to invest in dedicated graphics if your specific needs call for it.
A Small Business Laptop That Fits Your Lifestyle
Nobody wants to lug around a clunky, heavy laptop all the time. Business owners need something light and sleek that they can carry around in their bag from the kitchen table to the shop floor to the meeting room.
So choosing a laptop that’s under five pounds is important. Ideally, you can get a laptop that weighs around two pounds.
The only problem with portability is that lighter hardware means less power, slower speeds, and other functional sacrifices. You simply cannot fit the best hardware in the smallest package.
Your favorite computer manufacturer has to add weight and bulk in order to add power and speed. So if you want a good laptop for home business use and for late-night gaming sessions, you’re going to have to deal with the extra weight.
But certain computer manufacturers are taking steps to solve this problem. The Intel Evo certification program is designed to help computer manufacturers design the lightest, most powerful, and most user-friendly laptops on the market.
While only a few laptops make the list, from various brands like Lenovo, they really do have the best of both worlds. You can get a laptop with an Intel Evo processor, capable of completing almost any task, in a package that is ultra-portable.
An Adaptable Laptop
Small business owners often find themselves in unique situations. They juggle a lot of tasks, wear a lot of hats, and multi-task at all hours of the day.
So it makes sense to get a laptop that can fit into every situation. The best business laptop might not be a standard laptop. A 2-in-1 laptop may be a better option for you than a traditional laptop.
2-in-1 laptops function as both a laptop and tablet. So you can fold the screen all the way back so that the keyboard is behind the screen. Then, you can use touch-screen functionality to use a tablet in tight spaces. Certain models let you disconnect the keyboard entirely.
You can also lay the screen flat so that it’s flush with the keyboard. This often works well for lap-sitting in tight environments, like on an airplane.
Solid Business Laptop Options
What are the laptops that other small business owners are using? Which brands should you be paying attention to when running your business each day?
Lenovo ThinkPad X1
The ThinkPad series from Lenovo are some of the most common laptops in the business world. From large corporations powering hundreds of employees to independent business owners, you can’t go wrong with a ThinkPad.
Plus, the X1 Gen 9 is Intel Evo certified. That means it has all the benefits listed above.
It has an ultra-powerful process and top-of-the-line dedicated graphics cards. Yet the final product is very thin and lightweight, making this laptop easy to use wherever you find yourself.
The battery life will last you an entire day. And it will wake up from sleep and be ready to use in under one second.
No wonder countless professionals across the globe depend on a ThinkPad.
Lenovo Yoga or IdeaPad
Need a more flexible business laptop? Check out the Lenovo Yoga series or the Lenovo IdeaPad series. These are both 2-in-1 laptops, allowing you to benefit from a traditional laptop, or a standalone, touch-screen tablet.
For those who use their device in many different ways and environments, the flexibility of these devices is unparalleled.
The tablet functionality works great for video conference calls, reading, watching videos, or even light design work.
Microsoft Surface 4
Most business owners rely on the Windows operating system. If that’s you, it makes sense to use Windows on native hardware.
The Surface 4 uses the latest Gen Intel 11th processor or an equally impressive AMD Ryzen processor.
Those with Intel processors will use Intel Iris Xe graphics, and those on the AMD platform will use AMD Radeon graphics. Basically, these computers are top of the line, ready for anything.
The 13.5-inch PixelSense screen is large, crisp, and comes with touch screen capabilities. You can choose one with anywhere from 8GB to 32GB RAM, and up to 1TB SSD. So even the cheapest Surface 4 is still going to be more than capable for almost every business owner.
Now that the MacBook Pro comes with the M1 processor, these computers, which have always been impressive, are even more so.
The macOS is still preferred by many people, making it easy to sync with other devices you already have in your life. And with solid battery life, and the option of a 14-inch screen, you really can find the perfect laptop.
Don’t Be Cheap, But Don’t Waste Money
To get a good small business laptop, be prepared to spend some decent money. While you don’t need to spend the $3,000 that diehard PC gamers often spend, you should plan to drop at least $1,000.
A good laptop will either empower you to be productive or will slow you down and ultimately lose you money. When it comes to a laptop, don’t be cheap. But also, don’t buy the most expensive computer just because. You only need the fancy features if you’re actually going to use them.
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