I enjoy building things. There’s no better way to learn, and if you’re willing to make mistakes, you can become a craftsman in a relatively short amount of time. That applies to homes — I’m currently “flipping” a house with my wife, which has supplied us with plenty of quality time and free exercise — and it’s certainly true for businesses.
I spend many weekends making trips to the hardware store, and I quickly learned a crucial concept: Buy the cheapest tool first. If it doesn’t work well or breaks, buy the highest quality tool you can find. That’s how I ended up with a toolbox full of inexpensive specialty tools and one nice, expensive hammer.
That’s also how I ended up with an office full of Chromebooks (and several nice, expensive Macs and PCs).
My company, Blue Stingray, provides custom cloud solutions, and we’ve handled major projects for Fortune 500 companies, small niche firms, and everyone in between. We often work on strict deadlines and handle complex, unique requests. Given our strong reputation, my clients are often surprised to see programmers tapping away on $200 laptops. The conversation usually goes something like this:
“Do they use those every day?”
And finally: “Why?”
I get it. We’re a multi-million dollar tech business, and we’re using some of the cheapest computers available. To put it bluntly, Chromebooks are underpowered and cheap. Many of the least expensive models have issues with their trackpads and keyboards, and they’re limited by their design; if you’re trying to run anything other than a browser, you’re facing an uphill battle.
That’s what makes them perfect for a growing business. I do most of my work in the cloud — I don’t need a powerful computer to send emails, train employees, meet with clients. My employees don’t need state-of-the-art tech to send invoices, type on Slack, or handle minor programming tasks.
What we do need: secure, dependable computers. And we need a lot of them.
For basic office outfitting, Chromebooks make sense.
Many Chromebook models are $300 or less, and when connected to a decent monitor, keyboard, and mouse, they’re virtually indistinguishable from more expensive office computers. Programmers might need to load Crostini or Crouton onto their ChromeOS devices in order to work — and when that’s necessary, a higher powered laptop is usually a better option. But when most work takes place in the cloud, Chrome OS is perfectly competent.
More importantly, Chromebooks remove barriers for entry, allowing small businesses to keep hiring costs relatively low. An office can find five Chromebooks for the price of a mid-tier laptop, then spend the savings on training or other equipment. After all, many of my employees would prefer a nice chair or an extra monitor to a high-powered computer. When a Chromebook breaks, we can replace it for less than what we’d pay for a new desktop hard drive.
And given the efficiency of ChromeOS, the savings quickly add up: Chromebooks tend to use solid-state media, and because the operating system is limited, operating speed rarely lags. I’ve used the same Chromebook for over five years with no serious complaints. It boots quickly, runs well, and it’s properly configured for work in the cloud. It’s secure, reliable, and useful.
Owning a small business requires creativity, and Chromebooks offer a novel way to cut out a major expense. They’re not perfect — they’re not designed to be — but sometimes, the cheapest screwdriver works just as well as the most expensive option.
Guest article written by: Brian Rehg, https://bluestingray.com/about/who-we-are/#team