“You can’t run your business from a Chromebook”. “Chromebooks don’t have the programs you need for your business”. “A Chromebook doesn’t have the capabilities of a REAL computer”. “If you are running your business from a Chromebook then you don’t have a business”. These are all comments I have seen on Facebook and around the internet. Some of them have been directed at me and some I have come across in various discussions online.
Here is the thing though: they are all wrong. Not only do I run my business from a Chromebook but I have for well over a year. On top of that, when I had the chance to “upgrade” to a newer computer I did: to another Chromebook. My business is growing at a steady pace and has provided a nice second income for our family. And I have done it all from my Chromebook.
How I Ended Up With a Chromebook
I didn’t start out with a Chromebook. At the very early stages of my business, before it could even justifiably be called a business, I had a Windows-based laptop. It was old and slow. I didn’t care much when I was surfing the internet, although to be honest I mostly did that on my phone or iPad.
However when I started dipping my toes into entrepreneurship something became very obvious very fast. My laptop wasn’t going to cut it. Not only was it slow (like I could type a sentence, sit back, and watch the words go across the screen kind of slow), but it also had an issue with the screen. The colors were a little off. Not enough to notice while scrolling through Pinterest but enough to throw off any graphics I tried to make for people.
I knew I needed something else if I was going to start a real business.
But we were broke, in debt, and had other priorities. My husband asked one of his brothers who is a techy kind of guy if he could recommend a reasonably priced laptop. Preferably Windows-based since that was all I had experience with. One that might have the capability to run the programs I needed to start and grow my business. To our surprise, he recommended a Chromebook.
So we took a leap of faith and started saving. Fortunately, my parents who, not understanding at all what I was trying to do, bought me a $200 Chromebook that was on sale on Amazon and gave it to me in a show of support. (I took the money I had saved and used it to help start my business. Talk about bootstrapping!) So with a $200 Chromebook and a little bit of savings, I launched myself into business and haven’t looked back.
Why a Chromebook
Now let me explain why I LOVE my Chromebook. First, almost everything I do is online and that is exactly what Chromebooks are designed for. In fact, I have run across very few freelancers that couldn’t run their businesses from a Chromebook if they needed to. My Chromebook updates itself and it takes SECONDS. Anyone who has ever had to sit through a Windows update knows why this is awesome. It will never be out of date (for the foreseeable future) because there isn’t any software to speak of. I will never run out of memory because I have everything stored on Google Drive.
But wait! What about all the programs?! How can I possibly run a business without all the amazing programs?! Here is where I let you in on a secret. You don’t need those programs. It’s true. I know that sometimes it seems like everyone out there making things look so easy and simple must have amazing and powerful computers and programs specially designed just for their needs. Well, some of them do.
But they don’t need to.
Over the last year, I have only had one task that I couldn’t complete for a client. And, in the spirit of honesty, there have been a handful of times I have needed to reach out to a friend who had the Adobe Creative Suite to help me edit or create an image, and that was mostly because I didn’t have the patience to learn the program I could use and she is awesome.
What about Word? What about Excel? Two words: Google Suite. Google has a suite of apps that rival Microsoft office. Personally, I think they are better and simpler to use. I can type a document into Google Documents, it will automatically save to my Google Drive as I go. Then, I can save it as a Word Document, PDF, rich text, plain text, or EPUB. That means no matter what I need to do with it. Clients who send me Windows Excel sheet don’t know the difference when I save it to Google Sheets to complete a task. Then I download it as an Excel file and send it back to them. The same is true for Google Slides which is Google’s version of Powerpoint.
You Are Running an Online Business After All
I have gathered an amazing setup of Google Chrome apps and extensions I use in combination of the online programs that are available. If you want a list of some of my favorites I’ll tell you how to get it below. As a Tech VA, it is my job to make sure that all the tech is happy and all the programs talk nicely to each other. The thing is all those programs…are online.
Whether it is ClickFunnels or Teachable (my specialty) or Paypal or Leadpages they are all online. My computer has nothing to do with how well I can do my job. Before I settled into being a Tech VA I did social media management. All those social media programs? Online. The program that I used to make the fancy social media graphics? Online. No matter what you want to do chances are there is a program online, website, app, or extension that will do it.
In fact, if you go into any FB group and say “I am looking for a program or something that (insert something here)”. I can virtually guarantee that over 90% of the answers will be something you can do with a Chromebook. In fact, I have had several people comment on the fact that I almost always know of a great app, website, or extension that most other people don’t know about. Why?
Because I have a Chromebook.
The internet is my computer. Think about that for a minute. What would it mean for your business if the internet wasn’t simply the place you conducted business and did research? What if the computing power, storage, and speed of your computer were limited only by the internet? Crazy impressive huh? That’s why I brush off all the haters that tell me I can’t run a business on a Chromebook and go on my merry way, turning a profit while I do it. Tell me I can’t run a business on a Chromebook and I'll go on my merry way, turning a profit while I do it.Click To Tweet
If I’ve Convinced You
So you think a Chromebook might be good for your business. What do you need to know before you go buy one? Well, first, like most things not all Chromebooks are created equal. You should definitely do your research on whatever make and model you decide to buy. Second, there are two different “versions” of Chromebooks (this is a relatively new development at the time of writing). The “newer” Chromebooks have access to the Google Play store.
This is exciting because some programs like Adobe have created versions of their more popular programs for the Google Play store. So if you are shopping for a Chromebook and want access to the Play store keep two things in mind. You may have to pay a little (and I do mean little) more. Also, you need to check each model you look at to see if it will run the Play store. I imagine in a year or so they all will and it won’t matter. For now, though, it is something to consider.
Third, like most online shopping when you are looking for apps or extensions keep an eye on the reviews. There are some great apps and extensions out there, but there are some really poorly made ones as well. There are some that cost money and some that are free. As far as the actual Google Apps and Extensions that I use pretty much all have been free and have worked fabulously.
Lastly, know that the Chromebooks run on a Google operating system and it will take a little getting used to. However, now that I am used to it whenever I get on someone’s Windows or Apple computer it feels so overly complicated and bloated with excess programs that it makes me want to scream.
The moral of my story
It is absolutely possible to start, run, and grow a business using just a Chromebook. No fancy hardware or software needed. Yes, you are going to hear a lot of people saying it can’t be done, but they just aren’t thinking outside the box. When you boil all the excess away the core of most freelancers’ business is the internet. Chromebooks run on an operating system designed by one of the best in the business when it comes to the internet.
If you are interested in learning more about the apps, extensions, and websites I use to run my business. Grab my free Google Goodies PDF. It has a collection of Google extensions and websites that I use almost daily to help my business run smoothly. The best part is that these can all be used even if you DON’T have a Chromebook!