Equipment and Supplies Every Home Business Office Should Have
Set Up Your Office Economically
Now that you have decided to work from home, you will need to create a workspace. It seems that many people go to one of two extremes when creating their home office. They decide to save money by using their kitchen table and cardboard boxes, or they go out and spend too much money on office equipment and furniture that they don’t need. The goal is to find yourself somewhere in between the extremes, while creating a work space that is both functional and pleasing to you.
Office Essentials Need Not Be Expensive
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Start With the Basics
Now days, it is difficult to conduct business without a computer. There are people who do, however. A strictly cash based business could get by without the use of a computer if the transactions are limited in volume and are not complex transactions. For a business such as this, a simple journal method of income and expenses would suffice. That said, if you are going to use a computer for business purposes, it is best to do some research prior to buying.
Check out different manufacturers of computers. Read up on the different types of processors, graphics capabilities, and so on. Read product reviews. Decide what it is you will need to do on your computer. Then buy one that can do everything you want it to do and a little more. I say this because technology is moving so fast. Many people with older systems are finding that their machine cannot interact with the new technology, which makes it hard to do even simple things like looking up information online.
Again, the best bet is to buy a printer that is just a step up from what you think you will need in terms of capability. The more you use your printer, the more uses you will find for it. I favor an all-in-one printer for everyday use. Looking back, however, I wish I had gotten a printer that had automatic double-sided printing capabilities. I should have spent the money for this because flipping sheets by hand eats up a lot of time.
Some computer programs you should consider investing in are as follows: virus protection, word processing, spreadsheet program, computerized accounting or bookkeeping program, and a desktop publishing program. As a business owner, you will most likely get a great deal of use out of these. It is also a good idea to check into any industry-specific computer programs you may need for the type of business you plan to create.
Twenty-pound paper is the standard weight for most business needs. In the beginning, using high quality linen or other specialty paper is not necessary. However, it is probably a good idea to keep a small supply of nice paper on hand for times when you need to make written communications with top-level people, such as prospective clients, or consultants you would like to thank for help given. People develop first impressions of you through your written communications. If you are keeping it simple, that is okay. A well-developed letterhead on 20-pound printer paper can look very professional.
Sticky notes, or Post-It Notes™, are invaluable. Use them for keeping track of small bits of information. I commonly use them on the inside of file jackets to post reminders in my working files, or to attach reminders to documents that need to be completed or otherwise processed.
Binders are great for keeping track of important information, such as reports, instructions, master documents, portfolio items, and miscellaneous information. A two-inch binder seems to be a very versatile size.
I use them all the time. It just takes a minute or two to set up index dividers and tabs, but that time is worth its weight in gold when I need to find information quickly.
Business Card File
There are many types of card files. You can use a book with pockets, a spinning file, or even a plastic recipe box to store the business cards you receive from others. The important thing is that you keep them for handy reference. I often make notes about the individual or their product or service on the back of cards.
File Cabinet or Containers
Some people use wicker baskets, plastic file tubs, or file boxes. I use file cabinets. Many times, you can buy file cabinets at second hand stores. You do not have to spend a lot of money here. The important thing is that you have an organized way of storing documents so that you can retrieve them quickly when needed.
$12.00 Office Chair Cat Acquired Separately!
Office Furniture and Other Necessities
Desk or Work Table
Again, you can save money by purchasing a used desk or table. The important thing is that it is large enough for you to work comfortably. Height is also a consideration. You will spend lots of time here, so if the desk or table is too high or too low, it will not be comfortable and you will not be productive.
This is one item I would suggest investing some money in. However, I found the perfect chair for my back and body type at a local senior center. I paid $12.00 for it 3 years ago and am so grateful that I have it. It supports my back just the right way.
Pens, Pencils, Highlighters, Markers
Find the kind you like and stick with them. I use highlighters regularly to highlight important parts of long documents so I can find what I am looking for quickly.
Keep documents longer by using sheet protectors. Papers are not ripped and wrinkled when they are in sheet protectors. I use them to keep original documents and portfolio examples. For documents that you just want to keep for general reference, consider storing them in plastic pocket folders. This is an inexpensive way of eliminating clutter.
Business Cards for Your Business
Here again, you don’t have to spend lots of money. The important thing is to develop a nice looking card that includes all the important information about your business. If you print them yourself, you should use a clean edge card sheet that is not too flimsy. An effective business card should give the holder a feeling of substance. Keep it simple but effective. There are some great online business card Web sites that are very economical and produce high quality cards.
One Useful Promotional Item
When it comes to choosing promotional items for your business, keep it simple and inexpensive in the beginning. Try to choose an item that people will use. If you decide to purchase pens printed with your business name, choose a good quality pen with a fine point. People are more likely to use it in their work, and when they do, they will think of you. That is better than a big fat pen that will sit in a drawer or the bottom of a bag and never be used. You want the promotional item to do the job you intend for it to do. Calendars are a great promotional item, but remember that the best time to use them is at the end of the year, when people need a calendar for the coming year.
Ink cartridges can be costly, but they are a necessity. A lower cost alternative is to buy ink refill kits if you can get them. Using ink refill kits can greatly reduce the amount of money you spend on printing. Now days, however, they seem to be doing away with them and have begun to manufacture the cartridges in such a way as to make the refill kits obsolete. Your best bet is to remember to take advantage of the ink cartridge recycling programs offered at the major office supply stores. This way you get a discount on the new cartridge. Still, ink is expensive, and if you are printing a lot of documents, you may want to consider upgrading your printer to a laser printer. You will find that your ink expense goes down in the long run.
Keep a few stamps on hand that are specifically for business use. This way, when you need to mail a document, there is no delay.
File Folders and File Hangers
Basic file folders and file hangers are a must-have product if you want to keep your home office organized.
Now days, to be competitive in the business world you need to be accessible to your customers, clients, and other professional people. There are a number of good plans available. Here again, you will want to do some research to determine what type of phone you need. I use a no-contract smart phone. It is not the most recent technology available, but it suits my needs and is economical.
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