More and more of us are launching our own businesses. This is especially true for Baby-Boomers who can’t find full-time work, and many young entrepreneurs who are convinced their ideas will take them to success. Regardless of your needs or goals, you need a base of operations and that usually starts with a fundamental office-space or place where you manage the dream and deal with the realities. A good place to start is from home rather than an office where leases, rents and fees will erode your initial profitability and sustainability as an enterprise.
My advice to any entrepreneur is to work from your home as long as possible. The minute you rent space and hire employees you will find the pressure of your business growing exponentially. But regardless you’re going to need to create a positive working environment. Here’s how to get your office off to a good start.
1. Create a dedicated space. It can be a corner, a desk or a dedicated room that you make into your new office. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak started Apple Computer from a garage owned by Steve Wozniak’s father. Humble beginnings do not negate great success.
2. Equipment you’ll need. It goes without saying you need a computer with software relevant to your business model. You’ll also need a printer/scanner, internet access, a phone and maybe a dedicated phone line. You might also want binding capability to assemble reports and printed deliverables, a shredder and various tools like paper cutters and hole punchers. Your deliverables in terms of products and services will determine much of these needs. If you have inventory shelf space and perhaps a secondary room or basement area will come in handy.
3. Stationery, Business Cards and Brand Identity elements. Create a logo or hire someone to do one for you. Have some business cards printed up and create some basic stationery including letterheads, invoices, purchase orders or other unique docs you need for your business. They should be deliverable both physically as printed copies and digitally via email.
4. Office Supplies. Don’t over-react. Basic supplies such as paper for printing, ink cartridges, binders, binding supplies and a few pens and staples will get you through most tasks. If you need something unique for an assignment or project, buy it – but not until then.
5. Software. Here again, this depends on your business model. Most startups have the Microsoft Office Suite but software beyond the basics vary depending on the nature of your business. You may need unique inventory software, The Adobe Suite for graphics, or esoteric software for specialized business models. Once again, don’t buy it unless you need it.
This list assumes you work alone and interact with your customers or clients remotely. If they require face-to-face contact a home office may be unacceptable based on the nature of your business. Regardless, a startup from home is more cost-effective and until you have reached a level of sustainability you might want to keep it simple and work with these basics until you’re established. Then again, this may be all you’ll ever need to succeed.