If you want a new business laptop this year, you're in good company. According to our Small Business Outlook 2017 survey, 58 percent of small-business owners plan to buy either new furniture or equipment this year. (For more details, check out "New Equipment or Furniture Checklist."
But before you head to the mall (or whip out your smartphone), plan first. Business purchases are investments in your company, so you want to get both the right laptop and the insurance to protect it.
For most small-business owners, insurance is the easy part. A Business Owner's Policy (BOP) offers liability and property loss protection at an affordable rate. Let's see what experts say about buying a business laptop and learn how BOP Insurance covers it.
How to Choose the Right Laptop for Your Small Business
"Are you using programs that take up a lot of space and need a newer processor?" Williams asks. "Or are you mainly using your laptop to answer emails and do basic computing tasks?"
According to Williams, the processor determines how fast your laptop will run, and a newer one may help your computer load properly. But she also says it can be "difficult and expensive to upgrade to a better processor."
"As a rule of thumb, small-business owners should look to laptops that are light, easy to travel with, and priced competitively," she says. "There are a variety of quality business laptop options on the market that range from $500 to $1,000."
BOP Insurance tip: BOPs were designed to protect small-business owners who don't have a lot of expensive, highly specialized property. Luckily, laptops are a given in the business world, so a BOP can cover them.
The policy can help pay for replacement costs when your laptop is lost or damaged because of theft, fire, or certain weather events. Many BOP Insurance plans also offer worldwide laptop coverage. In other words, if your laptop is stolen or damaged while you're on a trip, it's usually still covered.
Add-Ons to Secure Your Laptop
It makes sense to get a laptop that's light and easy to travel with. But that also makes insuring it even more important.
"Lost or stolen laptops wind up being a very common way that people gain a connection," says Hodges. "And then there's all the rigmarole businesses need to go through to defend themselves once a laptop is lost."
He says every lost laptop costs organizations about $49,000 in recovery activities.
Hodges says most small-business owners and solopreneurs should take steps to secure their laptop. That means using a personal firewall, intrusion prevention system, and antivirus software.
But for keeping your data safe when a laptop has gone missing, Hodges recommends…
- Installing a location tracker. Hodges describes this as having "LoJack for a laptop."
- Encrypting drives and data. "If the hard drive is encrypted, there's not much someone can do with it unless they get the key," Hodges notes.
- Using a two-factor authentication system. One example is a key fob or phone application that links to your server. It generates a random string of numbers that the user enters with their password. Hodges says requiring both for authentication means "you can be really sure that the person accessing the computer is the person who owns it."
For a small-business owner with a staff, a package to manage all of this security might cost an extra $1,500, plus $50 to $100 for the local agent on each laptop, according to Hodges. Solopreneurs may have to buy each of the different applications for $75 to $150 a pop.
BOP Insurance tip: A Business Owner's Policy usually protects physical property. But some BOP add-ons may offer coverage for software and security items. Your options depend on the insurance company, so be sure to talk to your insurance agent.
A new laptop might mean it's time to consider Cyber Liability Insurance. Learn more in "The Small Business Guide to Cyber Liability Insurance."
About the Contributors
Eric Hodge, director of consulting at CyberScout (formerly IDT911), has nearly two decades of technology management and cyber security consulting experience. Prior to joining CyberScout, he held roles at Protiviti (formerly Arthur Andersen) and Jefferson Wells, and he worked to build cyber security practices at two other consulting firms. After graduating from the US Air Force Academy, Hodge spent seven years as a communications officer in the US Air Force, with deployments in Africa and Southwest Asia.
Alice Williams is a communications specialist with Frontier Business Edge (Frontier Communications). She manages Frontier's small business blog and passionately believes in helping America's small businesses. She uses her in-depth knowledge of small business and the problems they face to offer actionable tips and solutions.