Essential Hardware for My Mac-Based Business

Earlier this year I took the leap and opened my own law practice and shared some of the services that I used while launching my new business venture. Today, I thought I’d take a look at some of the hardware I’m using to run my Mac-based small business.

Mac mini - I choose to run my Mac-based law practice with a Mac mini primarily out of convenience. I already had one that I could devote to the task. Nevertheless, I think it’s a great machine for an office work station. For most office tasks such as word processing, managing email, web browsing and the like and packs more than enough power. I’ve upgrade my mini with a 256 GB SSD and 16 GB of RAM so I have no trouble virtualizing Windows or other more intensive tasks. The Mac mini’s low cost of entry is appealing, especially if you already have accessories like a monitor, keyboard and mouse. If you’re looking for something with a little more power, or building a work station completely from scratch, you might want to consider an iMac.

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ScanSnap iX500 - I’ve adopted a primarily paperless practice for a number of reasons. I find it easier to manage scanned PDFs than a bunch of files, PDFs are easier to transport, store and backup than paper files, a paperless practice keeps clutter down, and it’s less for me to manage. Because I have a lot of documents that come into my life I need a reliable workhouse scanner so the iX500 was a no brainer. One feature I particularly appreciate is the ability to scan wirelessly to my Mac. Because of the way my office is arranged it’s not convenient to keep the ScanSnap on my desk physically connected to my computer. I keep the ScanSnap on a credenza out of the way but easily accessible.

Brother HL-L2340DW Laser Printer - I have access to a larger document center in the office for significant copy/print jobs so I was looking for a basic laser printer for everyday use. I was looking for a few key features including reasonable up front cost, reasonable replacement toner costs, AirPrint compatibility, the ability to print envelopes, and good enough quality to print my own letterhead. I ultimately chose this model because it was the Wirecutter pick, and while it’s fairly basic, it fits the bill. I also appreciate the fact this this printer is Amazon Dash enabled meaning you can set it up to auto-reload toner when it’s getting low. This is a great feature for me as it means I don’t have to keep spare toner around the office when my storage space is at a premium. 

DYMO Twin Turbo Label Printer - As a small business owner I find myself needing lots of labels, mostly for postage and mailing. I keep one side of the twin turbo filled with standard address labels, the other with specialized postage labels. Printing a single label for an envelop or an entire mailing list is easy. I’m also using the DYMO for postage as it’s compatible with a number of different services. Right now I’m using Endicia’s’ free print service for DYMO printers but I suspect I’ll soon outgrow the restrictions of their free plan and will need to upgrade to either one of their premium accounts or something like Stamps.com

APC Battery Backup - If it’s important, it needs to be plugged into an APC, especially in Florida where we’re prone to flash thunderstorms. In the month since I’ve opened my practice we’ve already had one hurricane and a flash storm causing power outages. Because my Mac and monitor was plugged into a battery backup I was able to keep them running long enough to save my work and safely shut down when the building lost power. 

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HIDEit Wall Mount - Desk space is at a premium and I wanted to keep my cable clutter to a minimum. I found the HIDEit mount that would allow me to mount my Mac mini either to a wall, under a desk, or - as I choose - to the back of my monitor. The HIDEit mount is VESA compatible using 75mm or 100mm pattern, meaning the four screw holes match to the holes in a back of any VESA compatible monitor. My Mac mini is tucked out of the way out and off my desk.

Swivel Stand - I’ll regularly meet with clients in my office and although my 27" monitor is off to the side of my desk, it still can create a physical barrier between me and clients who are sitting across the desk. I’ll also occasionally want to swing my monitor around to show them something on the computer screen. The solution was an inexpensive swivel stand that will allow me to easily rotate my monitor (and the Mac mounted on the back) out of the way. It turns easy and feels stable

Monitor Stand - While we’re on the topic of monitors, you’ll want to make sure your monitor is at an ergonomic height. I find most monitors are a little to low for my preference. A simple monitor stand can raise your monitor a few inches and give you some storage space underneath. There’s no need to spend a lot of money here. I’m a big fan of the AmazonBasic line of products and they have a simple monitor stand that is inexpensive and gets the job done. I use this monitor stand in conjunction with the swivel stand with no problems.

PaperPro Stapler - Go ahead, laugh. I kid you not, this is the best stapler I’ve ever used. Attorney Ben Carter recommended this stapler and I thought he was kidding, it’s amazing. I will never buy another stapler again.

Wireless Headset - I like to “walk and talk” even if it’s just in a loop around my office. I’m a big fan of using a wireless headset. While there are many headsets on the market, I specifically picked the Plantronics Savi 740 because it’s a 3-in–1 headset that will work with both my office phone, my cell phone and my computer. With a press of a button I can connect the headset to any of the three devices depending on my needs at the time. The Savi 740 connects to my cell phone by bluetooth, my computer via USB and my office phone using a standard headset connector.

This article first appeared in the October Issue of ScreencastsOnline Monthly Magazine. ScreenCastsOnline monthly magazine is packed with hints, tips, articles and links to streamable versions of ScreenCastsOnline tutorials and delivered monthly via Newsstand on the iPad. You can find out more at https://www.screencastsonline.com/membership_benefits/