Most small business owners start working out of their home office until the business gets on its feet. I started my commercial cleaning business three years ago. Two years later I started my online empire business, which happens to consist of two blogs. Most of my work is done in my home office, which happens to be my second bedroom in my condo. I knew that to do my work efficiently I needed an ergonomic set up.
I renovated my second bedroom, painted some fresh colors, and added some shelving on the walls. I also converted the other half of my soon to be office into a gym, and to this day happens to be a brilliant idea. Anytime my brain gets tired I jump on the bench to do some bench press, do a few pull-ups and more importantly clear my head. I’m fortunate enough to have an efficient work space at home.
According to an article I came across on Toronto Star’s MoneyVille which talks about a survey by business machine company Brother Canada, only 2 out of 10 Canadians who work from home say they have an efficient work space.
If you’re in the process of creating a home office or work area, take the proper time to plan it out accordingly. This step becomes even more important, because it’s you who’ll be spending time in your office, so why not make it comfortable and cozy.
I came up with 10 tips to help you get the most out of your home office and to gain the max productivity out of it.
1. Separate Office
The whole purpose of having an office at home is to have privacy to do your work efficiently. We all know that an office in your living room simply won’t work, especially if you’re living with someone or a larger family. Furthermore, you want to keep your paperwork separate from the rest of your household items. Trust me, it will be easier to manage.
2. Generous Work Area
There will come a time when you’ll have multiple clients being served at once, and you need to be able to easily access their files. Personally, I like to spread out my paperwork on the desk, I call this organized chaos.
3. Internet Connection
We happen to live in times where an Internet connection is a must, and you probably already have one at home. Rather than spending the money for another connection, simply buy a router and route the Internet connection to your office. Try not to cheap out on the router, buy a wireless one, and when you buy a laptop in the future (or maybe you already have one) you’ll have wireless Internet connection for your laptop.
4. Printing / Copying / Scanning Device
I hardly do any faxing, but my HP printer prints b/w and scans too. If you need to fax quotes for example, I’d advise you to get a printer with a fax built in. You will need to get a fax connection, but rather than getting a dedicated fax line, you can get a ghost fax line which runs off of your home phone connection. This ghost fax line runs for about $4/month with Bell or Rogers.
5. Desktop Computer and/or Laptop
I started out with a desktop computer, which has attached to it a 21″ screen. I didn’t need a laptop initially, but a year into my business I went out and purchased a laptop. The main reason for my laptop purchase was because it’s handy to take on the road. I try to attend a few conferences throughout the year, so a laptop comes handy. However, despite mid-range fancy laptop I still prefer to do my work from the desktop computer.
6. Back-Up Drive
By using a backup hard-drive at home, which can be purchased for about $100/500 GB, you’ll be able to maintain a mirror of all the files on your computer. This way in case you desktop computer hard-drive get’s pooched, you’ll have a back up.
Don’t spend money on cloud computing backups. They may not sound expensive on per month basis, but it all ads up in the end.
7. Reliable IT guy
Being a business owner, I simply can’t tackle everything. And despite being a pretty tech savvy guy, I definitely don’t know all the ins and outs of computers. This is especially true with my online business empire, as I’m programming challenged.
Thankfully I have a very reliable IT guy who has become a good friend over the years as well. Most of my trouble shooting is taken care of within 24-48 hours. Sometimes even faster.
8. A Business Telephone Line
Separating your business and personal phone calls is a must for any serious small business owner. How do you think the customer would feel if they were to call your business phone number and your home voice mail picks up or even worst no voice mail at all. There are many different phone line options, so do your research. And don’t forget to consider VOIP telephone options, you’d be surprised how much they can be cheaper versus traditional telephone lines.
9. Digital Camera
One of my first purchases when I started my commercial cleaning business was a digital camera. It can in handy especially to show the before and after pictures of a specific job.
10. Digital Recorder
I’ve never gotten used to doing this, but I know business owners who make a living with their digital recorders. They leave notes, record conversations and most importantly use the recorders are reminders for the next day, week or month. Try it, you may just end up liking.