Acquiring the equipment you need to run your business can take up a big part of your initial capital. To avoid overspending, it's a good idea to assess your equipment needs early on, and consider your options. Your needs will depend on a number of things: where you operate, the size of your market, whether you employ other people, and if there are specific regulations that apply to your business activities.

There are some essential items you'll need in order to perform administrative functions like communicating with suppliers and customers, accepting payment, and doing your accounting/taxes. Mobile and wireless technologies allow you to conduct daily operations from almost anywhere, with minimal hardware. You might want to consider network or cloud-based solutions to keep all of your documents in one place, accessible from anywhere.

Buy or lease?

Leasing equipment can save you money on routine repairs and replacements over time. It can also regulate your cash flow, because you make smaller lease payments over time, instead of one large payment at the outset.

When considering leasing versus buying, think about things like:

  • How long do you need the equipment? Can you use it elsewhere?
  • What are the tax benefits if you buy?
  • What are your working capital needs?
  • Is there other (less expensive) equipment you could use?
  • Are you planning to scale your business? If so, will your needs change?

Other cost-saving solutions

  • Share equipment with another business — this works well when you operate in the same general area, or share office space
  • Outsource some of your production — aim for a balance between process, people and technology for best results
  • Equipment purchase financing — many programs offer financing to help cover the cost of new or used equipment, and tax credits for some types of equipment
  • Plan ahead when travelling for work — you can use the business centre in a hotel or a coworking office space, often at a reduced rate

Whatever you decide, give yourself time to consider the options. Be smart about what you buy or lease, but also when you do, and how you go about it. Remember to re-assess your needs on a regular basis, because they will likely change over time.