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Get your home office right first time

September 29, 2011

The wonderful thing about starting your business in the 21st century is how inexpensive it is to get the ball rolling.

The internet has made marketing cheaper and more efficient than ever before, and technology has freed businesses from the need to have lots of staff.

And unless you are running a retail outlet, it’s extremely acceptable to run your business from home. In fact TV programmes like Dragon’s Den have made wannabe entrepreneurs aware of the need to keep running costs to a minimum.

But working from home can be a strain for both you and your family. If you’re not careful you will find yourself cramped into an unsuitable environment working 18 hours a day, 7 days a week. That’s not healthy for you or your business.

Here are the main things to consider when you get your home office first set up, so you get it right first time.

Office space

First off, look at what space you will be using. It’s essential you have a dedicated space for your business. Not only will this allow you to separate your work and home life, but it means you can leave your work stuff in one place and not have to worry about moving it just so the family can have a meal together!

Many businesses are run from a spare bedroom. This is perfect, but be aware that your business’s stuff will expand to fill the available space! If you start with a tiny room, you may soon find it cluttered. And there’s nothing more demotivating than piles of clutter on the floor of your office.

Garages, conservatories, extensions and sheds in the garden are also popular choices.

When you pick your room, think forward a few years about what kind of equipment you’ll be piling in there. If you have a computer, monitor, printer, fax machine, and photocopier, do you have enough plugs? Using too many extension leads may be dangerous, and getting an electrician in will be disruptive when your business is up and running. By thinking this through in advance you can get any work done before you move into your new office.

It’s also worth bearing in mind health and safety basics such as not running cables across parts of the floor where you walk.

Home office equipment

Next up look at the office equipment you’ll need. If your business requires you to sit in front of a computer hour after hour, don’t be tempted to skimp on a decent chair. Your back will thank you for it in the years to come! And think of desks or cupboards as an investment. The cheapest may not last long, potentially causing future disruption.

When you position your furniture, try to make the most of natural light and give yourself a view if you can. It’s lonely working in a house on your own all day, so keeping an eye on events outside will keep your brain ticking. Get a radio or play music. But avoid having a television in your office – it’s a massive distraction that will make you inefficient.

Consider how to share the resources of your house with your business. Things like heating and electricity are easy. But what about the phone line? Could you miss out on a vital call if the phone line is tied up by your children chatting to their friends? You might also find the house’s broadband connection slows as the entire family logs on at different places around the house!

Look into the cost of extra internet bandwidth, or a virtual VOIP (Voice Over Internet Phone) that allows you to make phone calls through the internet.

Space to meet

The final thing to consider with your home office is where you will meet clients. Will your business project the right image if you have to clear the kids’ toys away for a meeting? Unlikely. Many people who run their business from home use a local coffee shop or hotel for meetings. You can get plenty more tips in our guide on How to work from home but look like a big business.

But remember not to be embarrassed about your home office. Adapting your house in this way shows you are serious about your business, and want to take every step to ensure it gets off to the right start.