Getting the right tech as an entrepreneur or small business is tough. Since you can’t take advantage of the bulk discounts that larger companies get, you have to be a little more creative when it comes to getting the right tech for your business. Thankfully, the holiday shopping season is a perfect time to score some great tech at a discount if you know how to find it. Today I’m going to break down how a small business owner can take advantage of the holiday sales over the next few weeks to score the best tech.
At brick and mortar retail chains, the biggest deals of the holiday season are typically found on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. If your mailbox looks anything like mine, you’ve probably been inundated with ads and circulars promoting what appear to be crazy discounts and deals on laptops, tablets, e-readers, and more. But which products are worth checking into, and which are worth passing on?
In terms of laptops, I’d skip anything that seems too good to be true. Generally, the items retailers use to try and get you in the door, like laptops under $300, aren’t going to be worth standing in line for. While getting a great discount is important, so is getting the right tech. Specifically, you should try and avoid laptops with “Intel Atom” and “Core i3” processors. You should also be wary of anything with 2GB of RAM or less unless you know how to upgrade it yourself. While these laptops are often the cheapest, you want to make a purchase that is going to last for years. I’d say an Intel “Core i5” processor, 4GB RAM, and at least 4-6 hours of battery life is what you should be looking for. Think too about size, weight, and portability. The cheapest laptops are often bulky and far from something you can easily work with on the go. But even high-end laptops, lightweight, and ultra-portable laptops are seeing discounts of several hundred dollars on Black Friday.
Some products, especially 7-inch tablets and e-readers, are zero-margin products for their manufacturers. Since companies are hoping that you’ll buy books, movies, and apps for your new device, these products generally don’t go on sale during Black Friday. But that doesn’t mean you should wait to buy a smaller tablet or e-reader until after this weekend! Many retailers, instead of being able to offer a discount on these products directly are offering gift cards with a purchase on Black Friday. While this isn’t a perfect deal, it’s the best you’re going to see this holiday season, and you can always use the gift card to pick up more tech at discount later on.
Smartphones may see discounts all year long, but some of the biggest discounts happen in-store on Black Friday. If it’s time to upgrade, you may want to consider picking up your new phone this Friday—I’m seeing deals offering great tech like the Samsung Galaxy SIII, a top-of-the-line Android phone which is typically $200 on contract on sale for as little as $50! Trust me, you’re not going to see discounts like that the other 364 days of the year.
If waiting in lines in the cold and getting trampled in a store isn’t your cup of tea, that doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of deep discounts this weekend. “Cyber Monday” is another great shopping holiday that takes place primarily at online retailers. But beware, the name is something of a misnomer! Online deals actually start on Thursday night and run all weekend long, not just on Monday. For a lot of the traditional retailers, you’ll want to check their websites every day or even multiple times per day. Many online retailers will only release a deal every hour, and often deals will only be available for a short period of time. The best bet if you want to shop but don’t want it to take over your life is load the apps for your favorite online retailers onto your phone and check in periodically to see what new deals are happening.
The best way to deal with Cyber Monday is to do your research up-front. If your company is desperately in need of new desktop or laptop computers because it’s impacting productivity, then identify a few models that are a good fit for you. Make sure to take down names, model numbers, and prices. Then make a second list of nice-to-haves. This would be stuff like tablets so you could do more or the go, or e-readers for employees who travel a lot — tech that isn’t essential to running your business, but you think would boost productivity at the office. A good third list might be the little things your office is lacking. USB flash drivers or MircoSD cards. Printer paper. Pens. Think of all of that stuff and make sure you have a list of the small stuff handy as well.
Now, when you’re checking different retailers online, if a deal comes up on something that’s on your list, you can quickly cross-check the price against what you saw before Cyber Monday and make a decision. At the major online electronics retailers, the best deals sell out fast, often in minutes, so you need to make sure you’re buying exactly the right tech at the right discount, but you don’t want to be in such a rush you buy something you don’t want or need.
Another one of my best tips for Cyber Monday is that you should go directly to the manufacturer. For instance, if you want a Roku smart television box, head straight to Roku.com and see what deals they have. Whatever products you’re looking at, whether it’s computers, mobile tech, gadgets or accessories, the manufacturer will sometimes have the best deals on their own websites this weekend.
Other Holiday Deals
Outside of the two deep discount days during the holidays, you’ll find tons of other sales to take advantage of to get the right tech for your business. If there’s something your business is looking for but you don’t want to wait in line after stuffing yourself with turkey, then look at deals that run throughout the holiday season.
One example is a deal that I like from AT&T right now. If you agree a two-year contract on ANY tablet purchase, AT&T will give you a $100 discount. Since tablets rarely go on sale, this is one of the best ways to get a discount if you know you’ll be using the 3G or 4G LTE connection.
One final piece of advice: please, be sure to shop in moderation. While you might spoil your family and spend big on gifts for them, your business is a totally different deal. While the best discounts on tech happen now, before you decide that everyone in the office is getting a new laptop, make sure you’ve run the numbers. Consider how much longer can you get by with the tech you already have. By prioritizing on a single or even just a few purchases, you can upgrade your business in a big way without spending a lot this holiday season.
If you could only buy one new thing for the office this holiday season, what would it be? Share your tech wish list in comments.
Mario Armstrong, Digital Lifestyle Expert, is an Emmy Award winning, tech commentator for the TODAY show and CNN, and the host of a tech talk radio show on SiriusXM. An entrepreneur by nature, Mario made his passion his career by quitting his day job and founding Mario Armstrong Media. Follow Mario at @MarioArmstrong. AT&T has sponsored this blog post.