Whether it’s by choice or for economic reasons, entrepreneurs often work from home. If you’re an aspiring business owner who expects to do the same, RetiredBrains’ Art Koff–whose story appeared on this blog last year–has some suggestions.
One is to recognize that it could take several weeks to set up a home office that suits your needs. In addition, Koff has these recommendations:
Find a comfortable desk chair–It may be your office’s most important item, since you will be spending a lot of time in this chair. Don’t skimp, or use a kitchen stool or folding chair that you have lying around. You’ll regret it later.
Plan a comprehensive workstation–In addition to a computer, think about a copier, printer and scanner. New inkjet units, which can fulfill all of these functions, normally cost between $68 to $250. Your computer station/area should have ample space to store key directories and books within easy reach. A box to keep discs (both blanks and back-ups) also is a good idea.
Get a second telephone line–“More problems develop working out of your home if you use your home phone for business,” says Koff. If you purchase an office phone, consider one that has fax capabilities if your copier does not. Another option for incoming faxes is CallWave®, which supplies you with a special fax number and sends faxes to your computer for printing. CallWave can’t be used for outgoing faxes, however.
Go easy on business cards in the beginning–The cost for these cards, as well as for letterhead and stationery, is surprisingly little at your local print shop. While the cost per item decreases with larger orders, keep in mind that a new business typically undergoes major transformations in the first month or two. “I have changed my cards several times in the past few years and still have a quantity of the old ones that I just can’t get myself to throw away,” says Koff.
Buy a shredder–The large amount of identify theft makes this a necessity. Shredders are inexpensive and can be purchased at almost any office supply store. Use yours to destroy any documents with personal information as well as credit card solicitations that arrive in the mail.
Implement an organizing system for your files–Office supply stores offer many options. Choose one to keep track of tax records, legal documents, insurance policies and other paperwork related to your business. Says Koff: “It will save you a great deal of frustration later.”
As someone who has a home office, let me supplement Koff’s list with a couple of additions:
Pick a workspace that’s separate from the rest of your household–Ideally, it should have a door that closes, so you don’t disturb family members (and vice versa).
Don’t forget about good lighting–You’ll need it, since you may be getting up before dawn or working into the night as you build your business.