Working from home entails the creation of a space where you can do the work you need for your business. Your home office can be a little nook by the kitchen, your dining table converted to a workspace in between meal times, a bedroom converted into a home office, or a custom designed home office with built-in cabinets.
Whatever your space is, you need to make your home office as comfortable and as inspiring for you as possible. However, in order to make your home workspace work, it needs to be equipped with the right equipment to allow you to actually do your work.
Determining the Equipment Your Home Business Needs
The equipment you require is directly linked to the home-based business you choose. Computers, both landline and mobile telephones, fax machines, photocopiers are some of the key equipments a home-based operation needs.
However, a website designer will need a more sophisticated computer system equipped with huge memory and multimedia capabilities, scanner, colored printer, web design software, as well as various publishing and graphics software. A lawn care service, on the other hand, may need a simpler computer system, but will need power mower, rakes, power trimmer and spreader, pick-up truck or station wagon.
Make a list of the equipment you need, clearly separating your must-haves and wants. Then check your list to determine what your budget and resources can afford to buy at this point. If your resources are limited, avoid splurging on equipment and purchase only the items you really need. Most home-based entrepreneurs either over-invest or under-invest for their home offices.
Consider what you will need in terms of communication and furniture. Make a list of everything needed to start the business. Before you buy anything, look around the house for things you already own that are usable. Maybe you have a spare desk that you can use, instead of buying a complete new set.
If you ascertain that you need some equipment, look around for low-cost used models or purchase new equipment on an installment plan. Or check eBay, Craigslist, and even garage sales. Determine if you can barter with other entrepreneurs.
Avoid making the mistake of going overboard with the most ergonomically designed furniture, high-end computer systems and the latest high-tech gizmos – even when not needed. For example, a bookkeeping business does not need high-end multimedia capabilities in a computer. Buy only what is absolutely necessary for start-up, and wait until the business is off the ground to get the extras. In your start-up phase, it is better to keep your capital expenditures as low as possible.
Computers and Software Needs
A business in the home used to mean unsophisticated equipment, but computers and telecommunications have become so inexpensive that you can run state-of-the-art communications out of your den.
Your ability to compete as a home business comes from your ability to match the technical equipment of large corporations. Most home-based graphic designers now use the same software used by the largest publishing houses graphic design shops. The affordable prices of sophisticated software make it possible for the home company to offer the same product and services of large corporations at lower rates. A decade ago, it was extremely difficult for a home business to compete directly with a large enterprise.
If your business requires the use of computers, you also need to have at least two back-up systems, one for power and one for data storage. A low cost surge protector prevents data loss due to fluctuating currents. In this age of fast-spreading computer viruses, it is essential to develop back-up procedures to protect your computer files and store back-up disks or tapes off-site. While Symantec’s Norton AntiVirus is always a reliable antivirus protection, there are several products out there that are just as effective with the right price – free! Examples include AVG AntiVirus and Microsoft’s Security Essentials
The capacity and features of your home business computer must match your business requirements and the way you work. If you work with videos, make sure that your computer system has great graphics interface and huge capacity. Also, determine how you will use your computer — if you are on the road frequently, then a laptop or notebook computer may be better suited for your needs.
There are a number of computer systems geared towards small business owners. Lenovo, for example, has just launched a low cost desktop ThinkCentre A63 targeted specifically for cost conscious small and home-based entrepreneurs. Priced starting at $329, the computer system offers faster boot up time and supports high-end 3D graphics.