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What Business Owners Need to Know About Refurbished Computers

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Small Business Experts Weigh in on Making the Right Tech Investments to Grow Your Company
Used. Cheap. Damaged. Poor quality. Second-hand. Faulty. Inferior. Risky. When it comes to the prospect of investing in refurbished computers or other refurbished hardware technologies, skepticism and concern are often par for a small business owner’s decision-making course.
And guess what? We get it.
You started your business to solve problems, offer solutions, and provide your customers with lasting value. But to do that and grow your business to new heights, you need high-performance computers and hardware technologies that are reliable, affordable, and fit for your purpose.
But the waters surrounding refurbished technology are a little murky. However, with the right insight, purchasing high-quality refurbished laptops, desktop computers, servers, workstations, or other refurbished technology can be a savvy small business move—with social and environmental upsides to boot.
So, what does “refurbished” really mean? When are refurbished computers and other hardware technologies a good investment? And what do you need to consider when making any technology investment?
With the help of tech experts, entrepreneurs, and small business owners, we answer all those questions and more.
Why Use Refurbished Computers in Your Business

The waters surrounding refurbished computers and other hardware tech are a little murky. Simply put, not all refurbished products are created equal. So, when do refurbished computers, laptops, and servers make good business sense?

 
What “Refurbished” Means — And What It Doesn’t
What does it mean when a computer has been refurbished? Generally speaking, refurbished means that a product has been inspected, repaired, and restored to like-new condition. But practically speaking, refurbished is a nuanced term in the tech industry.
Every retailer has a unique set of refurbishing processes and standards, which means each retailers’ definition of refurbished can vary wildly. In fact, we hear “refurbish speak” everywhere these days.
  You see this all over the marketplace,” Barry Moltz, a renowned small business expert, speaker, and radio show host, states. “[Companies] don’t use the word ‘used’ anymore. They use refurbished, or they used pre-owned or certified-pre-owned.
Regardless of nomenclature, the bottom line is that the brand sets the refurbishing standard for its products—and not all refurbished computer and hardware products are created equal. This means you need to do your research if you’re considering refurbished computers for business.
 If the refurbishing is done right, then there’s no difference between that product and new,” Moltz says. “It should be the same.
 

Good-Business-Sense

 
When Do Refurbished Computers Make Good Business Sense?
For Dell Outlet, refurbished means that previously opened or used products have undergone a rigorous refurbishing process to achieve the highest possible quality and performance standards—standards matching that of all Dell technology products.
But from our perspective, and that of Moltz and several other small business experts, meticulous quality assurance is just one aspect of determining whether a refurbished desktop computer, laptop, server, or other hardware is right for your small business needs.
What else do you need to consider? Take a peek at the sections below to see what small business experts and owners have to say.
 

The Trust Factor: Do You Trust the Brand Doing the Refurbishing?


sara-suttonSara Sutton
CEO and Founder of FlexJobs
The quality of a refurbished computer relies on the quality of the brand behind it. If you believe in the quality of the brand, a refurbished product can really offer a good opportunity for cost savings.

In addition to considering the quality of the brand, I think looking at the warranties and who is offering the warranties (e.g. the manufacturer vs. a third-party seller). You have to pay attention to details on things like that, especially if it’s a fairly significant purchase.

I often do a little bit of research online, just to see if there's any important chatter going on about a certain brand's refurbished quality. So, do your due diligence.

barry-moltzBarry Moltz
Small Business Expert, Speaker, Author, and Radio Show Host; BarryMoltz.com
The dividing line for me is not between new and refurbished, it's really between what brand of hardware I really want to buy. The trustworthiness of the brand is essential. So, my advice is to pick the brand, and the reputation of brand, first.

Some people will say: "I don't want ‘used’ because I'm afraid it's not going to work” or “It's going to go down; I can't afford that; I'd have a liability." But if the refurbishing is done right, then there's no difference between that product and new. It should be the same.

paul-orlandoPaul Orlando
Incubator Director & Adjunct Professor, University of Southern California; Publisher of Unintended Consequences
Entrepreneurs tend to be both short on time and, at least in the early-stage, money. For a small business owner, there may be certain types of refurbished tech that are a fit for what they need.

But security is the first thing I think of in terms of refurbished laptops or computers. Did the previous owner wipe their data from the machine? Is the computer at risk of firmware or software tampering whether for malicious reasons or just because of the previous owner? If I can trust a refurbisher to solve that issue, I’d be more likely to consider buying refurbished.


warranty

The Warranty: Does the Refurbisher Offer Warranty and Support?

jody-ranckJody Ranck
Executive Vice President of Global Strategy for Ram Group
Warranty. As business owners and consumers, we’re so consumed with managing risk in our everyday lives that we do not want to add any more risk at all.

I want protection. And then, if it doesn’t work out, I’ve got to find a way to not be sitting on the phone arguing with the customer support people all day long to get my money back.

Always think about the original seller or maker of the technology — that's where you get tech support.

gail-gardnerGail Gardner
Small Business Marketing Strategist and Founder of GrowMap.com
You have to get a manufacturer's refurbished warranty. There are people that refurbish equipment, but they don't have the manufacturer backing them; they don't have the resources and the parts necessary.

So, if you're going to buy refurbished, you want to buy refurbished directly from the manufacturer with the manufacturer's warranty. And that's what takes all of the risks out of it.

charles-aungerCharles Aunger
Managing Director – CTO, Health 2047
If you’re going to a branded manufacturer for a refurbished computer or another hardware product, warranty is important.

In many instances, you're getting the same standard warranty or just as good of a warranty that you could get for other products; you’re getting the ability to not have a substandard product.

Warranty is probably the biggest bang for the buck. So, look at the warranty.


business-value

The Business Value: How Do Refurbished Computers Add Business Value?


anita-campbellAnita Campbell
CEO and Founder of Small Business Trends
You have to think about getting value as a small business because we are price sensitive. We don’t want cheap. We want inexpensive value.

Think about this: The business is our baby. Do you want to dress your baby in cheap things? No, you don't. You want the best, right? We want the best for our business, but we also would like to know we got a good deal.

So, if we could get a refurbished item where we have some sense of the quality being there, and knowing that there is a company behind it that we can trust, then the price being more attractive becomes like a no brainer.

ramon-rayRamon Ray
Entrepreneur, Keynote Speaker, Best-Selling Author, and Editor and Founder of Smart Hustle Magazine
What do I think of when I hear “refurbished computer” or “refurbished technology”? Saving money. This is almost like a Pat Sajak-Jeopardy show — bing, ding, ding, ding, ding! Saving money is what I think of.

As far as making the decision to buy a refurbished computer, server, or other technology, I always start with: What are you trying to solve? What are you trying to do?

Then two, I would go to budget: What is your budget?

Then from there, I would highly consider, and most importantly probably: Where's it coming from? And, assuming it's coming from a good brand, if something goes wrong within “x” period of time, what happens? Can you get your money back? Is it going to be replaced? Is it repaired? There's no right or wrong answer, but you want to be cognizant.

ivana-taylorIvana Taylor
Publisher and Editor, DIYMarketers
It's very, very popular for people to assume that a small business owner is looking for cheap. But that's actually not really true. Most small business owners are interested in getting the most value for their money and that's a really important distinction.

When we're talking about technology, the first value has to be in the form of a functioning computer. I mean, it has to work, right? And then, of course, having the service to support that computer is absolutely everything.

 

Hardware-Investment 

 
What Do You Need to Consider When Investing in Any Hardware Technology?
Small or large, modern businesses run on technology. And you need a well-defined strategy for how you’ll leverage technology for business transformation and growth, which just 21% of small businesses say they have.
So, what do you need to consider when making any hardware technology purchase? Read on to learn what our panel of industry experts had to say.
 

The Short-Term: Invest in What You Need, When You Need It


gail-gardnerGail Gardner
Small Business Marketing Strategist and Founder of GrowMap.com
A big mistake that small businesses and freelancers make is that they put off buying new technology too long. They feel like they’re saving money, but they’re actually costing themselves time.

Better tech, faster PCs, faster internet access, larger monitors that are easier on the eyes—all of these things are allowing users to accomplish more in less time. They can contribute more to growing your business's bottom line if you give them the tools to do it.

So, don’t put it off. Get the equipment you need, keep it as long as it's fully functional, and then replace it before it drives your employees nuts, you're losing productivity, or you're risking your business.

jody-ranckJody Ranck
Executive Vice President of Global Strategy for Ram Group
Any technology you invest in needs to be up-to-date, and quite new in general, to keep up with the technology that we connect to. This is especially true for tech startups.

For example, we make sensors that you can use in wearables and other devices. So, any hardware technology has to have the operating systems and the things that we need to run our technology on. And if it can't do that, it's useless for us.

Cybersecurity is important, too. For us and other tech companies, we’re dealing with a lot of intellectual property that's extremely valuable and coveted, so the security of the device (and the software on it) is incredibly important.

charles-aungerCharles Aunger
Managing Director – CTO, Health 2047
A top consideration when making any hardware technology purchase is: Is it fit-for-purpose? Essentially, what am I actually buying my product? What is my No. 1 priority for the product?

For instance, if I'm buying this device for mobile salesperson, does it have enough battery life? Can it handle the right resolutions depending on what sector I'm in? Or if I'm a bit of a road warrior, I might want lightweight or slickness, and something that allows me to have longevity.

I think this is often a big miss. If I'm buying a thin, lightweight laptop, I'm probably not going to want to use it in a rugged construction environment. In addition, I've got to be getting the bang for the buck; the best value for the equipment and the best value for the warranty and functionality that I need it for.


long-term

The Long-Term: Buy With Longevity & Practicality In Mind

barry-moltzBarry Moltz
Small Business Expert, Speaker, Author, and Radio Show Host; BarryMoltz.com
Go with a reputable brand who's going to be around tomorrow, and also the ability to easily upgrade whatever you have or add to whatever you have. Because you don't want to get in a situation where your business grows and then you have to throw everything out.

But it’s a fine line. You have to make sure that you don't underbuy, but you also don’t want to overbuy. Look at your overall strategy and how things will work together long-term.

anita-campbellAnita Campbell
CEO and Founder of Small Business Trends
Expandability and scalability with your business are really important. You need technology that can interoperate with the other technology you already have.

In addition, a very practical thing, but also a key thing, is simply thinking about the availability of ports and the different kinds of connection points there are today. You need the ability to attach and connect just to get your daily work done.

Also, I’m a big believer in multiple monitors because the less scrolling you have to do, the better off you're going to be. It's great to have that ability to be able to see everything at once and not constantly have to tab back and forth or scroll around. You don't realize how much time you actually waste doing that and how frustrating it can be. It’s very much a matter of productivity.

ramon-rayRamon Ray
Entrepreneur, Keynote Speaker, Best-Selling Author, and Editor and Founder of Smart Hustle Magazine
No. 1: Will the hardware grow with me? I don’t mean physically of course, but if I’m a business owner, is this going to be what I need for the next year or two?

No. 2: How does the hardware perform? There are many speeds, and feeds, and features that people can look at and they can get stuck looking at the wrong thing. Meaning, it doesn't matter if it's black or gray, if it doesn't have enough memory.

No. 3: Does it fit the style of who it’s for? If a human is going to be using it day-to-day, you need to be cognizant that it's a tool built and made for them.

Look for companies that will help you handle issues that might come up. Having good customer support and the ability to reach someone if needed is a great value add.

paul-orlandoPaul Orlando
Incubator Director & Adjunct Professor, University of Southern California; Publisher of Unintended Consequences
Look for companies that will help you handle issues that might come up. Having good customer support and the ability to reach someone if needed is a great value add.

Also, do what is easiest. Look for tech that can be deployed just in time, as needed. That keeps your options open and let's you expand when it makes sense.


world-term

The World-Term: Invest in Your Business and Our World


sara-suttonSara Sutton
CEO and Founder of FlexJobs
I truly believe that as business owners, whatever size, we have an opportunity and a responsibility to lead a good company. And we have the opportunity to do that in a way that helps our earth and business.

I think that it's important to reduce the stigma of refurbished technology and other refurbished items. We often think that the new shiny object out of the box equals the best. But we've all bought things out of the box that didn't work.

An entrepreneur is often on a shoestring budget, and the opportunity to be able to purchase high-quality products at a lower cost is a win-win when you also get the sustainability and social responsibility elements of the purchase.

As business owners or entrepreneurs, we have a real opportunity to set the model. And as our business grows, and the more we are dedicated to sustainability, the more our company can be—and it just continues to grow in a positive direction.

ivana-taylorIvana Taylor
Publisher and Editor, DIYMarketers
Is sustainability important? Absolutely. In fact, I was just working with Small Business Trends and Constellation Energy who have partnered up to do a survey research project called the "Small Business Energy Report."

We asked small business owners how important it was for them to run a sustainable business, and 80% of them said that it was important to them. In addition, roughly 60% said that sustainability was important to their customers, and 70% of them said that their employees cared about sustainability as well. Clearly, this is something small business owners are thinking about.

But the part that hasn't quite clicked yet is that small business owners could use sustainability as competitive advantage — that they could use their commitment to sustainability as a reason for other people to do business with them.

Invest

 
Invest In The Best to Grow Your Small Business
For your business to run at its best, you need the best technology that fits your unique business needs and growth aspirations. And while you absolutely need to balance your financial ledger, remember that you’re making an investment. As entrepreneur Ramon Ray says:
  “Listen, small business owners. Consider technology definitely as an investment. You say, ‘I have to buy a new computer’ or ‘I got to buy a new server.’ No. Smile when you say it. It’s an investment to grow your business.”
And to make that best investment, do your due diligence. Find a brand that you can trust—a brand that has longevity, stands behind its products with warranty and support, and offers real value. In addition, critically think about what you need from your technology now and in the near future as you grow, and how your business and technology can contribute to a more sustainable world.
Finally, in many cases, buying refurbished computers and other refurbished hardware could be your best investment. As our experts shared, you want high-quality, reliable, warranty-backed refurbished computers and tech. You want inexpensive value. You want a win-win. You want your decisions to be a no-brainer. And when the refurbishing is done right, you can get all those things and more.
How can Dell Outlet provide the quality, reliability, support, and value your small business needs? Watch the video below to find out.
 
Why Dell Outlet for Small Business

Why Dell Outlet? Quality. Warranty. Sustainability. Value. Whether it's new and unused, certified refurbished, or scratch and dent, every Dell Outlet product is inspected and refurbished to meet Dell’s original performance and quality standards.