My wife's in the very early stages of planning to leave her current work and to setting herself up in self-employment.
Now, the problem is we are both life-long civil servants and so have nil experience in operating a small business. While we're starting the process of reading stuff and seeking advice from relevant organisations and self-employed friends, I hoped to be able to get further advice from fellow GZers - whether it be general hints such as how best to structure the business (we're thinking a LLC) but in particular, given this site, for advice on best options in relation to technology.
Laptop: I've read here of the benefits of purchasing a business-spec'd laptop over a consumer model; what kind of spec and how much would she need to pay to get an acceptable performing laptop? We're talking standard use here - Office, email, browsing, accounts etc. Any particular recommendations for brands and/or models? (I'm sure I recall HP being mentioned frequently as a good brand for business models?).
Mobile internet access: given she won't need significant access to mobile internet on the computer, I was thinking it may be simplest to just tether her laptop to her phone. But are there significant advantages to having a dedicated device such as a vodem?
Office: I had been thinking the most efficient method would be just to purchase an Office 365 subscription, rather than buying the software upfront - is this appropriate?
Accounting software: given the nature of the business (likely to be based around one or two main contracts with tertiary providers for regular work, and some other more casual and one-off work for other orgs or individuals), should she still invest in decent accounting software? If so, would a basic Xero package fit the bill?
CRM: given the likely small client base, would there be any need for or any benefit from any kind of CRM software?
Multifunction printer: she needs to provide for the possibility of printing material for clients; we are thinking a multifunction laser unit - would a high-end consumer/SOHO model be adequate? (eg this $1200 Brother model, or would she need to spend more like this $2000 model?). Any particular recommendations of brands or models?
There may be other critical tech-related items I've missed out, so please let me know if I have!