There is one piece of office equipment that my home office had to have early on: the good old fax machine. When I first started out, I thought I could make do by just using web-based faxing solutions, such as the one offered by Ring Central. Solutions such as this work wonderfully for inbound faxing (receiving faxes), but what happens if you need to send a fax?
What I learned early on is that I send out far more faxes than I receive. Most suppliers require faxed, signed agreements plus your business license in order to set you up. There are also some suppliers who prefer to accept orders via Fax. There are the customers whose dog ate the invoice and would like a faxed copy. Banks require faxed signed documents to straighten out problems and make account changes. And so on. Sending documents via web-based faxing solutions requires first scanning them and then sending the digitized copy out through your fax client. That’s a lot of work!
An alternate option is taking your fax into Kinko’s or The UPS Store, but at about $1.25 per page, the costs will add up very quickly. So very early on I decided that a fax machine was a worthwhile investment. I went with the Brother Intellifax 2800 plain paper laser fax/copier. It has been supplanted by the Intellifax 2900 which is the same model lineage with a few more features. Most fax machines are plain paper now, but one fundamental choice you have to make is the print media: laser vs.inkjet. Just as in printers, laser tends to be crisper and doesn’t run when it gets wet. But just as in printers, inkjet gives you a cheaper machine up front, but you’ll have to look at the cost and availability of inkjet cartridges over time.
Most fax machines can also double as a copy machine. Not for large copy jobs, but for the occasional ad-hoc photocopy, they work just fine. So if you’re planning a home-based business, you may want to budget and plan for a fax machine early on.