One of my favorite perks of entrepreneurship is the ability to set my own schedule and work from anywhere.
I’m able to balance the need for quick “alone time” focused on my projects with the need to be around other entrepreneurs for high energy support. No matter where I’m working on any given day, my home office is my base of operations.
From that consistent place of my own, it is easy to branch out to work from a coffee shop, customer office, co-working space or even my back porch.
Essentials for working from home
Whether you’re working from home from a dedicated room or home office, or just your favorite chair and a basket, some basic equipment will help you be comfortable and efficient:
- Business class internet
- Laptop, tablet and mobile phone
- Printer with a multi-page scanner
- Video equipment (light ring, tripod or selfie stick, and microphone)
Why business class internet is important
Business class internet may seem like a splurge, but consider the cost of slow internet speed, outages or unprofessional video meetings. Compare prices from local service providers and you may be surprised to find that business class internet is not as high-priced as it used to be.
If business class internet for your home office is not available or cost-effective, check into nearby coworking spaces that provide this service as part of a membership. You may also be able to reserve nice conference rooms with large screens and high-even video meeting equipment and enjoy free coffee and snacks.
Invest in the level of tech you need to run your business
The investment you make in a laptop, tablet and/or mobile phone may be the single largest investment you make to launch your business. It’s a matter of personal preference as to which devices you need.
An increasing number of people run their business entirely from their mobile phone, while others prefer the larger screen size, or the full-size keyboard and greater software options that come with a laptop.
Think about what you will need to be able to do with your equipment and make your selections based on these needs. Consider the cost of service for your devices and the length of contractual commitments on service for your mobile devices.
Multi-function printers and scanners are also available in coworking spaces, often for no additional charge. If you also have a printer in your home office, consider the cost of ink and ongoing operating when making a purchase decision. Laser printers cost more up front, but you will save a lot of money in toner cartridges later on.
Invest in a functional photo and video setup
As modern entrepreneurs, we are often our own photographers and videographers. Your mobile phone or tablet should have great functionality for video.
Uplevel the quality of your videos with a small investment in a video kit including a light ring, lavalier microphone and a selfie-stick or tripod with a remote control. Great kits are available online for less than $50, and worth every bit of the investment. Find a quiet place with good lighting and a pleasing background, and you will be in the video business!
Make it easy to communicate with your customers and team
Consider a separate business phone number, answering service and a business mailing address for a professional image. Establish a filing system and a contact management system to stay organized and communicate with ease.
Set up regular team calls or meetings to provide structure to your business hours. Regular contact with your team and customers will help you stay in touch and reduce the feelings of isolation that may come with working from home.
Have your “office in a bag” ready to go
No matter how wonderfully you equip your home office, you will sometimes find yourself working on the go. With an “office in a bag,” just grab your laptop or phone and be productive as soon as you arrive at your work destination.
Do you have an office in a bag stocked with these basics?
- Extra power cords for laptop, tablet, and phone
- Headphones or earbuds
- Printed marketing materials
- Product samples
- Business cards
- Paper and pens
- Water bottle
- Energy bar or snacks
Tips for staying focused and motivated while working from home
1. Set regular work hours
Working from a home office requires boundaries to maintain a distinction between working time and personal time. With a home office, it’s all too easy to blur these boundaries.
Avoid burnout and damaging family relationships by establishing clear work hours. If you can, set up a separate space for working. Use a calendar to manage your time, including breaks and meal times.
2. Set regular morning, break time, and evening routines
When you wake up in the morning, shower, dress and “go to work” to make the mental transition into business. At the end of the day, leave your home office, change into casual clothes and shift into relaxation mode or family time.
Consider taking a break for exercise, to decompress and transition from your workday that may otherwise be done during a commute.
3. Be proactive to avoid interruptions
Consider a “do not disturb” sign for your office or front door to avoid unprofessional interruptions during live video broadcasts and conference calls.
If you are lucky enough to have the family dog as your office mate, consider making other arrangements during important meetings if barking is a concern. Make sure your children understand the boundaries around your “do not disturb” sign.
Refine your home office over time
As you spend more time working in your home office, keep evaluating how the space is working for you.
Ask yourself the following questions periodically:
- Do you have the storage you need? It is easy to access?
- Can you display what you need to see? Do you need a whiteboard or bulletin board?
- Do you have the separation you need to work in privacy?
- Are you comfortable? Do your desk and chair work together?
- Do you love the colors in your home office?
- Have you considered feng shui in your office layout?
- Do you bring aromatherapy into your home office?
- Do you feel focused, motivated, and inspired in your workspace?
- Do you have natural lighting?
Being organized and having everything you need at your fingertips will help you make the most of your time wherever you work.
As your business grows, you will be able to upgrade your home office and environment. Your home office will become one of your greatest business assets when it supports your ability to focus, work efficiently and follow your dreams.