Apple for Business
Updated: Aug 5, 2022
How I Run My Marketing Agency Using the Apple Ecosystem of Products
Yes yes, before we get into this, I am a self-professed Apple w**ker. I got my first iPod - a 32gb black iPod Video - for my 13th Birthday, and started going really mad with my obsession when I got my iPhone 4 at age 17, and haven’t looked back since. In 2021, after 9 months of unemployment due to redundancy, I set up SMK Marketing. For the past 15 months I’ve successfully grown the business, despite being a 1-man show, thanks to the Apple Ecosystem I’ve setup for myself.
Anyone looking to setup on their own should try create a similar system for themselves - and in this blog I’ll explain why.
Firstly, let's take a quick look at the work I do in SMK Marketing so you can get a better sense of why I use the ecosystem I do. SMK Marketing provides both digital and social marketing services to SME’s around Ireland. Services range from creation & management of digital advertisement campaigns on platforms like Facebook & Google; to design, filming & editing of graphics, videos, and other content for my clients’ organic social media posting needs.
On a daily basis, I use programmes & apps such as Final Cut Pro, Canva, Facebook Ads
Manager, Google Ads Manager, Google AdSense, Outlook, Gmail, WhatsApp, and Google Calendar. With the exception of Final Cut, none of these are (on paper anyway) overtly power-hungry systems. I could theoretically use a supremely basic ChromeBook for a lot of these tasks - right? No. Not at all.
When I first started SMK Marketing, I was utilising a 2014 13” Retina MacBook Pro with a 2.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of DDR3L Memory, and 256GB of SSD storage. I bought this as my first ever MacBook in my final year of University (2014) and it served me excellently all through my studies and as an alternate work laptop for my various jobs throughout the past 8 years. But, it very quickly proved nowhere near powerful enough to keep pace with the tasks I was now asking of it. Facebook Ads Manager in particular proved to be an unusably enormous stress on the laptop. Not to mention web-design platforms like Wix. Given that this was the primary service offering I was selling to potential clients, my laptop’s inability to use it made it unfeasible to keep.
I needed a big power boost in order to even offer my base services but, being new in business, my resources & funds were limited, so I had to be careful & clever about what I bought and used to get me through my first year of business. (For reference, I still have the 2014 MacBook - it still works fine for everyday web browsing, emails and light productivity work such as document writing and excel creation).
BENEFITS OF APPLE ECOSYSTEM FOR BUSINESS
It’s pretty simple, the reason is in the name: it’s an ecosystem. Meaning all the current products and services made by Apple are designed deliberately to connect, sync with, and complement each other. The more Apple products you have, the more powerful the benefits of this ecosystem become.
I can take a picture or video on my iPhones and AirDrop them to my MacBook in seconds without having to go through DropBox or WeTransfer. I can copy anything from my MacBook and paste it on my iPad or iPhones. My AirPods seamlessly alternate their connection to each of my Apple products. I can answer phone calls and text messages from my iPhone through my MacBook. I can pinpoint the location of any of my Apple products - eg, if I lose my iPad I can find it using my iPhone or MacBook. As long as they’re on the same WiFi network, I can answer a call from my work phone on my personal phone if want to. I can unlock my iPhone and my MacBook just by having my Apple Watch on my wrist.
All of these features make running a business as a sole-trader infinitely easier. I’m not waiting for content & files to transfer from one to another using a 3rd party app, like I would have to do if I was using a PC. Sharing, connecting, calling, texting, security - they’re all much easier and faster than if I had multiple different brands & operating systems to work with. They’re primarily small benefits but they all add up to save an immense amount of time and effort throughout the workday.
An additional bonus is Apple’s productivity programmes. Pages, Numbers and Keynote are all completely free and usable on almost any Apple product. This is great for 2 reasons. Firstly, as a sole-trader, setting up the business can be expensive, and Microsoft’s Suite of Apps is certainly not cheap! While they’re not perfect alternatives, Apple’s versions can save you several hundred euro from your startup costs and still allow you to do any productivity tasks you need to: document writing, excel doc creation, or slideshow presentations. Secondly, using iCloud, you can access all of your files across all of your devices. Start writing an article on Pages on your MacBook, continue it on your iPad, and finish it on your iPhone. Without ever having to actually click any ‘save’ buttons. As it happens - I’ve done exactly this for this article! I started writing it on my MacBook and finished it in bed on my iPad.
So that’s the basics of what the Apple Ecosystem is and what its benefits are. Now I’ll go over the specific Apple products I use in my own ecosystem and how they have benefitted the setup and growth of my marketing agency.
MY MACBOOK OF CHOICE
For 2021, with the startup of my business, I had to think carefully about what computer I was going to utilise to grow the business. I did seriously consider a relatively-high-powered desktop Windows PC, which I could have likely bought, with a decent monitor, for less than €1000. However, even in my personal life pre-self employment, I had already built up quite a considerable ecosystem of Apple products. So, ultimately it made the most sense to replace my MacBook, with another MacBook.
M1 MacBook Pro 13"
Thanks to a business start-up grant I was eligible for, I was able to purchase a new 2020 M1
MacBook Pro 13”, with 8GB of Unified Memory (Apple’s term for RAM), and a 256GB SSD. Very much still a “base model”, with nowhere near enough storage long-term, it was initially a massive upgrade on my older MacBook, at least. The brand new Apple Silicon M1 chip was worlds away from the old model in terms of power. For reference, the 2014 model scored a Geekbench single-core score of 684, and multi-core of 1472; while the new M1 model scored 1707 in single-core and a whopping 7394 in multi-core. Almost 7 times more powerful! You don’t even have to understand these scores to appreciate that’s a massive power boost. I noticed the difference instantly!
The M1 13" Pro did its job excellently for the majority of 2021. Safari being optimised for the new Apple Silicon made the various internet-based systems I was using - Ads Manager, Gmail, Canva, Wix - far easier and faster to use, meaning I could provide my services to clients in much shorter time-frames than before! It also came with the benefit of, frankly, ridiculous battery life! I regularly went full work-days without plugging the laptop in and would end the day with well over 30% of the battery remaining. It also never got hot and I never so much as heard a whisper of fan-noise - unlike the older model which sounded more like a PS4 at full-chat! (If you know, you know)! This also meant that, in theory, I didn’t have to be tethered to my desk all the time. I could work from bed, from the living room, from a coffee shop, from the car…you get the picture.
But…there’s a but!
I don’t have the best vision, and at the end of the day, this was still a 13” display, same as before. Meaning that, even though I could work remotely, I didn’t like doing so as the small screen made it very uncomfortable on both my eyes and neck to do so for long periods of time. I still had to plug into my 27” monitor on my desk for long work sessions. Realistically, what I wanted from the start was a larger laptop than this but 2 factors stopped this from being a possibility in early-2021.
Firstly, and most importantly, I couldn’t afford it. A bog-standard 16” Intel MacBook Pro (2019 model) was over €2700!! My grant only gave me €1000. Secondly, I knew full-well that Apple would be replacing the 16” with a new model some time soon, and including a more powerful Apple Silicon chip in it, so buying the Intel model at the time made even less sense as it’s value would plummet like a stone!
So the 13” M1 was very much a stop-gap, but it did it’s job pretty well for about 6 months. As SMK Marketing grew throughout the year, and I offered newer, more power-intensive services to clients - such as 4K video filming & editing - the M1 13” began to stretch it’s limits. It seems being connected to an external monitor (a necessary requirement for me, particularly for video editing) sapped a lot of the power and the laptop started struggling. It may just have been my own model, but on multiple occasions, while editing 4K footage, the entire screen would stutter and black-out, and the laptop would shut down! On 2 particularly infuriating occasions, I lost several hours worth of work and even missed a very important deadline for a client due to this crash! So, it was time for an upgrade!
M1Pro MacBook Pro 16”
Throughout 2021, I saved as much money as I possibly could, knowing the new 16” was on the horizon, but that it would not be cheap! In October 2021, Apple finally announced the beautifully re-designed 14” and 16” MacBooks Pro, with either M1 Pro or M1 Max chips.
In December 2021 I took delivery of my M1 Pro MacBook Pro 16”, with the 10core CPU, 16core GPU, 16GB Unified Memory, and the upgraded 1TB SSD storage. Having watched literal hours worth of tech-review videos on YouTube, I decided the base M1Pro should be more than enough for my needs, and that the M1Max would be total overkill. (As of April 2022, I was right in this assumption). And, as a bonus, because it was used 95% of the time in clamshell mode on a desk, and therefore in physically faultless condition, I managed to flog the 13” M1 for close to €1000 to help fund the new model.
I would have absolutely no problem whatsoever recommending this laptop to anyone setting up their own business. It’s very comfortable to use if you will be travelling or wanting to work remotely regularly. Or even if you just want it on your desk without having to buy an extra external monitor. It may be a bit bulky but the spectacularly beautiful 16.2”, 3.5K, Mini-LED Liquid Retina XDR display with 120hz ProMotion is beyond easy to work from! While the 13” was difficult and uncomfortable to use on its own without an external display, this new model has no such drawbacks whatsoever. I find myself far more often working away from my desk and monitor. Even video editing is a piece of cake on such a big screen. I have travelled a fair bit since getting my hands on this 16” MacBook Pro and, again, yes it’s big, but I haven’t actually been bothered by the size or weight in the slightest. It’s actually only slightly heavier than my old 2014 MacBook, which is the one I carried around most often - the 13” M1 from 2021 I never traveled with due to lockdowns so I have no comparisons to make with it. I am far more comfortable with the idea of going on holidays this summer and taking this laptop with me.
Also, ports! So many ports! For some insane reason, with their 2016-2020 model designs, MacBooks only came with 2 or 4 USB-C/Thunderbolt ports. My own 13” M1 only had 2 thunderbolt ports, meaning I always had to have a stupid dongle adapter with me at all times if I wanted to do anything other than charge the laptop. Granted it was a cheap one, but it got molten-hot after only about half an hour and in turn totally wrecked the MacBook’s battery. For this new model, Apple has seen sense and reverted to type. The 16” (and the 14”) now has 3 USB-C/Thunderbolt4 ports; MagSafe for ultra-fast charging; a HDMI port; and an SD Card slot! Making it essentially a modern-interpretation of the 2013-2015 models which also had MagSafe, 2 Thunderbolt ports, 2 USB-A ports, HDMI, and an SD Card slot. I can now travel and connect this up to any tv or monitor without a stupid adapter. I don’t even need any USB-A adapters as anything I could ever possibly want or need to plug in utilises USB-C already. Also, I use Apple’s own Magic Mouse & Magic Keyboard for desk work, which both connect wirelessly without the need for any USB plugins.
The 16” M1 Pro MacBook Pro is currently available on Apple from €2,749 or on Amazon from €2,557.
MY FULL APPLE ECOSYSTEM
So then, what other Apple products do I use to run SMK Marketing? Honestly, not many. While I do actually own a quite a number of Apple products, the likes of the Apple TV, Apple Watch and AirPods I don’t really count as useful for my business purposes. I primarily use my iPhones & iPad alongside the MacBook, although even the iPad is becoming a bit stretched to its limit. I’ll explain.
In 2020 I purchased an iPhone 12 Pro Max with 128GB storage. It has since proven to be the best iPhone I’ve owned since my iPhone 4 way back in 2011! As SMK Marketing has grown, this iPhone has only increased in value to me and the company. The triple-camera system it features allows me to film videos for clients in 4K HDR at either 30 or 60fps. I have made dozens of videos using just this phone and not once have I thought I’d be better off with a professional camera, or felt the need to upgrade to the 13 Pro Max. In fact, shy of Apple re-inventing the wheel for the iPhone 14 in late-2022, I see no reason why I would possibly need to upgrade for another year or 2!
I also have an unlocked iPhone 8 for which I was able to purchase a cheap pay-as-you-go sim card, create a new number, and use it purely as a “work phone”. Having the ability to separate work & personal like this has been a welcome freedom.
If you are a sole trader, or are just setting up, I recommend this 2-phone approach. It doesn’t have to be a top-spec model like the 12 Pro Max, although I highly suggest having 2 iPhones (as I explained above - the interconnection and ingrained security features are invaluable). You can pick up an expertly-refurbished iPhone 7 from refurbed.ie for as little as €126.
Back in 2019, I bought myself a then-new iPad Air 3. I picked up an Apple Pencil and a decent Logitech keyboard, and suddenly had an excellent little travel laptop - ideal for the minimal Word document, email writing, and note-taking I did for that particular job.
Come 2020, after I had been made redundant, the iPad actually proved even more useful. While working part time and travelling, SMK Marketing was essentially created from this iPad Air 3. I did up my entire Business Plan, Competitor Analysis, Cash Flow Forecast, early designs for my logo, created my Facebook & LinkedIn pages, and set my first Facebook Ad; all from this iPad.
Nowadays, sadly, it’s not as useful to me anymore. The A12 Processor in the Air 3 is from back in 2018 and can barely hold a candle to the modern M1 processors. As a result, I upgraded to the 2021 11" iPad Pro with the M1 chip in June 2022. This supplements my MacBook Pro perfectly.
I'm more easily able to travel to clients without having to lug the giant laptop while still comfortably able to do 95% of my daily work tasks. It also made travelling during the summer far easier as, again, I didn't have to lug around the MacBook as much. The screen is noticeably larger and yet the device itself feels much smaller and lighter due to the lack of bezels. It breezes through tasks such as photo editing, ad creation, excel document creation, word processing, emails, conference calls, and as an added bonus has a gorgeous 120hz ProMotion Display which is great for gaming and watching content.