A while back I wrote a blog directed to new entrepreneurs where I shared some of my experiences and advice. Here’s a tip I didn’t cover: Get the Gear.
But before you get the gear, there are a couple of things you should keep in mind.
Don’t Break the Bank
I don’t want to be responsible for anyone going broke, so please use your best judgment here. If you can afford it, buy it. If it’s going to improve your business, workflow, and output, buy it.
Know the Difference
Any skill you use professionally should be constantly evolving. With that evolution comes a greater sensitivity to the equipment used. If you can’t tell the difference between the good stuff and the not-so-good stuff, you may not be ready for it. If the new hardware makes you excited to get back to work, you’re on the right track. If you see it solely as a financial burden, maybe reconsider what you’re doing. Nothing’s worse than seeing someone with really expensive gear they don’t know how to use.
OK, now that that’s out of the way, let’s get back to the fun stuff.
I can’t speak for all industries and disciplines, but I know audio production is more accessible than it’s ever been. This is great for people just starting out. You no longer need to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars towards gear just to make a decent recording. If you’re new to this sort of thing, my advice is start with decent gear, and gradually upgrade to the more professional gear as your skills improve.
Figuring out what to buy can often be a daunting and intimidating task. There’s just so much out there. I know in the audio world there is plenty of gear that claims to be “studio” or “professional” quality, but these are often just sell-words and don’t necessarily mean anything. My advice would be to do a little research first. Read online reviews, but read ALL the online reviews. Not just the positive ones. Look for demos online. If you have any mentors or people whose work you admire, find out what they use. Bear in mind though, that what works for them, may not work for you, so try some things out if you can. Depending on your industry, you may be able to rent the gear. This is great for not only getting to feel it out, but again, to see if you can sense the difference.
When you buy good gear, you’re not only buying it for yourself, but for your clients. When you have the right gear (and you’ve figured out how it works), you’re able to give them the best product possible. You’re able to offer them something competitive that you can stand by. Granted not all clients will care that you have the Big Sexy-Tron 5000. You’re in business to solve a problem for someone. They don’t necessarily care how you do it. That’s why they’re paying you. They may not even notice the difference between Device A and Device B, but they’re not responsible for staying on top of the latest gear. That’s your job. And in the event that you do have a client with a higher sensitivity to quality, they’ll see the care that you’ve taken, and they’ll appreciate it. They’ll know you’re the real deal.
Another benefit of having the good gear that I never anticipated is the confidence you build from it. A couple of years ago I started making some very significant hardware upgrades. It was a bit scary at first, but I had reached a point where business was good and I had the money. At first I did it just to stay on top of things and to be able to offer a better product, but when you have the right gear (and again, you’ve figured out how it works), it has a way of validating what you’re doing. Suddenly you’re no longer some Mickey Mouse operation. You can compete with the best, and you have a newfound fervor and confidence in what you’re doing.