Yesterday's startups starting on a shoestring might have considered subletting a small suite of offices, getting some second-hand furniture, hiring a part-time secretary and receptionist, and outfitting the office with a couple of computers, a network, a fax machine, a copier and a phone system. Oh, and don't forget making a trip to the office supply store to buy lots of stuff to write on or with. And definitely don't forget the coffee machine and other paraphernalia of an office.
But things have changed.
Today's startup is just as likely to be one person working out of a spare room at home. He or she may well get by with using just 3 pieces of equipment: a mobile phone, a laptop, and an all-in-one printer/scanner/fax.
This scanty hardware is augmented with plenty of online software services. Need to keep your books? Sign up to use your accounting software online. Need a customer management solution? Find a Web-based CRM package.
We even have an entirely new vocabulary, replete with liberal use of the word "virtual" to describe how we operate today. In many businesses today, we use virtual phone systems to take the place of expensive hardware-based systems of the past.
Instead of hiring an administrative assistant as an employee, we contract with the services of a virtual assistant who could be located across the country. We even have virtual partners -- people we've never met in person but with whom we start businesses together. How crazy is that, huh?
But I've been thinking about what's really required in the form of hardware to run a startup today? Do you need a Blackberry or iPhone in order to be mobile outside the office? Do you need a digital camera? What about a Webcam for video conferencing and shooting videos?
Weigh in below with your list of essential hardware for a startup today. Tell us what hardware you think a startup entrepreneur needs.