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Setting Up Your Office
March 02, 2015

I know we have already discussed this a bit. But now it's time to actually put your work space together. Most of us are starting our businesses from our home so you might think there is nothing more to talk about. But that is not the case. How will you meet with customers? How will you keep your business files secure? Do you have enough space for your needs? What about your spouse and children? Planning your home office helps you make the most of the space you have available.

Some of you have already told me you are planning a "man and van" type business and are going to work primarily from your vehicle. That's fine. But you need to plan that space as well.

Today we will discuss setting up a home office. Tomorrow I will address setting up a mobile "office."

There are lots of advantages to working from home as long as you set up your home office correctly. The first step is to find the actual space you are going to work from. It can be a corner of your kitchen table, an unused spare room, or even space in your garage. As I have mentioned before, I started in a corner of my bedroom. It really doesn't matter where, in most cases, as long as it is large enough for your needs and away from too many distractions.

Once you have chosen your space, decide what you will need in it. At the very minimum, you will need a desk or work table. This should be only used for work. You don't want to have to clear out of your work space at the end of every day. I had a computer worktable in my bedroom that folded up into a cabinet. So at night, I merely closed the doors and walked away.

You will also need a good chair. For I while I sat on the comfortable bedroom chair. But what is good for relaxing is not necessarily good for working. I soon bought a good office chair. No, it didn't exactly match the décor, but my back was very appreciative!

Make sure you have sufficient lighting to work all day. You may need additional lighting in some cases. A simple desk or floor lamp may be all you need. If you are relying on windows during the day, watch for glare on your computer monitor.

Check the heating and air conditioning. Office equipment needs a stable temperature. I had originally planned to work in a spare bedroom at the other end of our house. But it got very cold in that room in the winter, and if I turned the heat up to keep it comfortable, the rest of the house became far too warm.

Make sure you have space for storage. Regardless of the type of business you are running, you will accumulate stuff. You will need a place to put it.

Make sure you have enough electrical outlets for your equipment. Surge protector strips will increase the number of these, but it is possible to overload them. Be careful!

What type of phone connection will you use? You should, if at all possible, have a separate phone for your business. When I first started, cell reception was iffy at best in the wooded area I live in/ I had a separate land line for many years. Now that coverage is better, we have a cell phone. You will need to make the choice that is best for your needs.

Choose your internet provider, if you have options. Again, because of where I live, at first I only had one choice. Now I have options. Choose the provider that gives you the best service at a price you can afford.

Decide if you will need other equipment such as printers or a fax machine. Printers are very compact these days. If you don't want to invest in a fax machine right now, there are great services such as eFax that allow you to send and receive faxes from your email.

Will you need to meet face-to-face with customers? If so, how and where will you do that? I certainly didn't want to meet with clients in my bedroom! Fortunately, my business did not require many meetings. If I did have to meet with someone, I arranged to meet them for coffee at the local Starbucks. My clients were very glad not to have to drive down the dirt road to my home! But depending on your type of business, you will may need a place to meet with clients. If so, and you don't want to meet in your home, it may be possible to "rent" meeting space from another company. Check out small businesses that may have a meeting room you can use for an hourly fee. Some locations may even have a service that provides short-term office space rental.

How will you separate work space from home space? This is critical. Once of the biggest problems for home-based business owners is keeping their work life and home life separate. This can be especially true if you have small children home during your "work" hours. And don't forget the pets! I didn't have small children when I started, but I did have a dog - who would inevitably decide to start barking whenever I was on the phone.

The tragedy in life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goal to reach.

–Benjamin Mays

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Melodieann is available on a limited basis for personal coaching. She and her team will work with you to get your business started on the right foot - from initial concept to website design to launch. We recommend you call to schedule an appointment for an initial consultation. Call Jessica Henderson at 479-790-3634.

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