From the September 2004 issue of Entrepreneur

When you upgrade the technology in your business, you usually do it one piece of equipment at a time-a desktop here, a cell phone there. For Deborah Nail's company, it's a major makeover all at once. Not only are her Web site and commerce systems undergoing a dramatic and complete change, but there are new laptops and cell phones in the mix as well. "Initially, it's very fun, but then you really have to take the time to implement it," says Nail, 40. "But it's worthwhile."

As a handbag manufacturer and seller, fashion trade shows are very important to Nail's Atlanta business, Pursesnickety!. The IBM ThinkPad R40 laptops are a big step up for Nail. She's most excited at the prospect of using them at trade shows. "If it's a credit card, we don't charge it 24 hours later, we charge it right away. The same goes for being able to check e-mail during the day," Nail explains. The technology is helping her become a business that works in real time. In the fast-moving fashion industry, that's a big plus.

The Palm OS Sprint Treo 600 smartphones are also helping to cement Nail's new status as a mobile warrior. As many entrepreneurs discover, they can't live and work without the technology once they've tried it. "They've got better coverage than any other cell phone I've ever used," says Nail. She is taking full advantage of the PC-like aspects of the phone, and uses the on-the-go Internet access capabilities for research and e-mail. With so many responsibilities in her business, she can't afford to be out of touch when she's off at a show. If an order comes in via e-mail, she's able to act on it right away and get the ball rolling back at the office-no matter where she is.

As Nail is quickly discovering, upgrading or adding new technology with advanced capabilities can pay off in dividends. In a growing business, entrepreneurs must wear many hats (or, in this case, purses), and the right hardware can make it all flow better. Follow along next month as we check in for the big launch of the new Pursesnickety! Web site.