Setting up your home office is really fun and exciting and, if you aren’t careful, really expensive.
It’s so easy to be tempted by articles listing must-haves.
Yes, most of those articles are filled with products and services that would be nice to have and, sometimes, will even make running your business marginally easier.
At the same time, most of those articles are playing a little fast and loose with the term “need.”
Here are the only five things that you actually need in your home office to get your business up and running, and some of them aren’t even things at all.
1. An Accounting System
When you first start out, you can probably do your own accounting using a simple spreadsheet or some simple accounting software.
Whatever you do, don’t wait to get this system set up. You’ll want to have your invoicing system, your payment systems and your monetary tracking systems up and running before you accept your first client.
2. A Working Computer
Thanks to current technology, most of the office equipment you might think you need — a phone, a fax, a scanner, a copier — has been eclipsed by the computer.
You can use Skype or Google Voice for your phone calls and companies like VeriSign have made it possible for you to legally sign contracts and other documents without actually having to print them out and sign them.
A computer is one of the machines on which you really shouldn’t skimp. Do your research and buy the very best computer that you can afford.
Look for computers that will do the tasks you need them to do and will do them well. And remember, this might mean spending more money but the money you’re spending is tax deductible!
3. A Laser Printer
Yep, we said laser on purpose. It’s true: inkjet printers are much cheaper initial purchases than the laser printers. Ink jet printers also break down more often and become obsolete more quickly. The ink is more expensive and runs out in the blink of an eye.
A laser printer, on the other hand, if you take care of it, will last for years and, page per page, the toner/ink for a laser printer lasts much longer and costs much less than the ink for an inkjet printer.
4. Security Software
With more and more work being done remotely, more companies and remote workers are left vulnerable to security attacks because their systems are always connected.
Even if your client swears that its internet security is top notch, you still have to protect your own system because your client’s security only protects their connection; it does nothing for every system connected to it.
With hackers and cyber attackers getting craftier every day, having up to date Internet security software is incredibly important.
5. A Filing System
Don’t wait until you have a massive stack of paper to start setting up your filing system. A simple filing cabinet will do for now — you can have it double as your printer stand! — and get used to filing away invoices, client contracts, etc., every day.
That way you never have to wonder where anything is. Plus, having those records organized now will make tax time much easier.
While you’re at it, set up an easily navigable file system on your computer as well. You’ll want to keep your digital files as meticulously organized (and backed up) as your hard copy files.
These are the most important parts of your home office setup. Once you’ve got your basic needs covered, you can move on to the more fun things, like which color post-its you want and which organizational tools are really “you.”
(Photo by Daniel Photos / CC BY)