The following is a guest post by Kevin Cullis.  For more information on Kevin, including his blog on all things business and Mac, please visit his site at

Any business requires certain elements and steps to get off the ground: business planning, project planning, marketing, sales, finance, and business operations, each element designed in a system to be effective at satisfying a customer and then efficient with the results of being profitable.  The most opportune steps to getting to the point of finding a Mac solution is primarily to determine the business case, process, or pain point and then secondarily finding a Mac solution.  What a typical startup business owner does is have the tendency to jump to the Mac solution before clearly defining the important business reasons for needing a solution or even spending the money.

For example, when I was writing my book How to Start a Business: Mac Version almost every editor, graphic artist, or book expert stated that I needed to do my book in Adobe’s InDesign or Quark’s QuarkXpress, both cost $700 for a single software license.  I could not afford them nor did I want to.  I decided early on to see if iWork Pages, Apple’s $80 office suite, could do the job.  One important aspect that needed to be answered was about leading (rhymes with heading), line spacing measured in points, not the typical single or double spacing we’re all accustomed to using.  Once I learned that Pages could do “12 on 14” leading, 12 point font size with 14 point spacing for book design, I catapulted my book’s PDF off to the printer for my proof copy.  It worked!  As my grandfather used to say, “Pay enough to get the job done,” and Pages was “good enough” for the job I needed, I could now redeploy my $620 in financial savings toward something else.

Once you’ve defined the business elements and components that go into starting a business, and necessarily the intended size and quality of the business requirements, now it’s time to determine what Mac solutions and cool tools are needed.

  • Marketing.  Free with every Mac is Apple’s iLife, made up of GarageBand (music and audio recording), iPhoto (photo management and editing), iMovie (video, and can combine both audio and photos), iDVD (sharing of digital files), and iWeb (designing simple web sites).  Beyond iLife, a startup mostly needs a copy of the iWork office suite made up of Pages (word processing and page layout), Numbers (spreadsheet), and Keynote (presentation) software to handle nearly all of a startups business marketing needs (print, audio, video).
  • Sales.  Moving into sales, the software needs may include: contact management (Apple’s Address Book or Zoho), To Do (Apple’s iCal or Omnifocus), calendar (iCal or Google Calendar), and sales or Point Of Sale (POS) software solutions (Xsilva or POSIM).
  • Operations.  The last pieces of heavy software needed may be financial or accounting (Moneywell or Quicken for Mac), graphics (Lineform or Pixelmator), project planning (Things or FastTrack Schedule), or databases (Bento and Filemaker Pro). At the tail end of the solutions are smaller utilities or applications that make life a little easier that are too numerous to list.

As with any startup the key issue of any Mac solution boils down to: quantity and quality.  From a quantity perspective, how many clients or customers will you have and how many products, services, or transactions will you have?  500?  5,000?  50,000?  These anticipated numbers will narrow down the field of Mac solutions as you consider their capabilities for your specific situation.  The quality perspective will also play into who your ideal clients are.  Will iWork Pages be good enough as a startup solution, or as a graphic artist will only InDesign be worthy of your talents and outputs.  Or as a dog sitter could using iWork Numbers versus Quicken for Mac be good enough to balance your checkbook?  You don’t always needs to best solution to get the job done.

And as for whether you can start a business with a Mac – Survey says: Yes!  A Mac can be used by just about any startup.  As tickets to the 2011 World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) sold out in two hours and Apple continues to sell progressively more Macs to businesses, growth in solutions for businesses will continue.  This suggests that businesses will increasingly be attracted to the Mac as the platform of choice now and into the future as more and better solutions become available.

Before I left Startup Weekend, I had a chance to discuss the various startup teams and what they were working on with a judge.  As an entrepreneur myself, I mentioned “too bad they couldn’t make any sales over the weekend,” whereas the judge stated, “The one that makes the most profits, wins!”  Profits only follow providing a great product or service, and the Mac does everything to save you time and money while getting it done.  So, just do it using a Mac.

If you need legal help starting a business, please contact me, your Denver small business attorney, Elizabeth Lewis.