The same goes for your computer as a startup.
You shouldn’t use a computer you already own at home for your business needs. It seems smart upfront to save the money and do so, but there are actually many reasons why you should keep your business computer and personal computer separate, even when you have a home office. (And if cost is your reason, you might consider a computer rental until you have the funds to buy outright.)
File and Data Security
When you use the same computer for business data and person files, it’s easy to blur the lines and forget which is which. Sure, it all starts out fine, but pretty soon you’ve got a bunch of business documents saved on the desktop (instead of in the business folder) right next to pictures your teen downloaded from Facebook.
We unconsciously associate certain places with what we normally do in that place. For example, let’s say you normally meet people at coffee shops just to enjoy some time together. Try to go to a coffee shop by yourself and read a book; you probably won’t be able to. Your body is so accustomed to paying attention to another person when you’re in a coffee shop that you won’t be able to concentrate on the book.
The same goes for your computer: you begin to blur the lines between work and home. When you’re supposed to be working, you’ll find yourself surfing Facebook—or vice-versa (working when you should be resting). Having a separate business and personal computer allows you to only do one or the other, depending upon the computer you’re using.
You’re going to grow your business at some point. When you do, you’ll want to upgrade your computer. This is time-consuming enough if you’re transferring business programs and documents; now imagine you have to sort through or transfer all your personal stuff, too. It’s much easier to upgrade if you keep work stuff on its own machine.
One day, you might have employees (if you don’t already). Would you want them working on a personal machine, carrying it back and forth between home and work? Of course not. You want them to keep work stuff at work. Set this precedence now by following the rule yourself.
Owning a work computer makes it really easy to tell people they can’t use it. For example, I’ve had friends over before who asked to use the computer for a few minutes. It’s really hard to say, “No,” if you don’t have a reason. When it’s a work computer, though, you can refuse because it’s for work use, and redirect them to a personal computer if necessary.
The same goes for your family. If you just have one computer with both work and personal stuff on it you have to let other people use it. A business computer, though, is off limits (and you don’t have to worry about your teen or spouse downloading a virus).
The IRS allows you to deduct the full or partial cost of a computer (the exact policy changes every year, so be sure to check). If you buy a computer and use it for both business and personal use, though, you could put yourself in a precarious position with the law. The safest approach is to use computers (and anything) that you buy for the business only for business needs.
You could probably come up with some reasons yourself if you took a second, but I think these reasons give a sound argument. Buy or rent yourself a computer specifically for your business projects. It’ll give you one less thing to worry about while you try to get your business off the ground.
About the Author:
Dan Palma is a blogger who is passionate about connecting businesses with the technology they need. He currently writes for SmartSource Rentals, a company that offers conference services technology for rent. He enjoys action movies and taking his dog for a hike.
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