Your Home-Based Business – Getting the Right Tools

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Stan Horst
As a former cabinet and furniture maker, Stan knows what goes into making quality outdoor storage benches. He puts that knowledge to good use by researching and recommending products to others at his website, Stan loves the outdoors, and enjoys spending time with his family camping, fishing, and hiking. Stan, along with his wife, owns and operates a successful vacation rental business in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.
Stan Horst
Stan Horst
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When I opened my first home-based business, I was on a tight budget. Our home didn’t have a space for a designated office, so I organized a make-shift office in a corner of the family room. I didn’t want to take out a loan, so I made do with an old computer and an even older desk.

This arrangement worked for a while, but before long, I began to feel frustrated, irritated, and burnt-out. The computer was slow and my desk was disorganized. I didn’t have a proper filing system so I was constantly losing papers. I knew that if my business was going to succeed, I had to carve out an efficient work space.

Starting a home business can cost thousands of dollars, but if you’re careful, you may be able to get all the tools you need for much less. Take inventory of what you already have. What’s working, what’s not? Define your priorities and decide what items must be purchased first. Then start thinking creatively.

Creative Solutions

Chances are, you won’t find a good computer second-hand, but there are many other pieces of equipment that you can pick up for little or no money. Because I had experience making furniture, I crafted a desk out of wood scraps I had on hand. A friend of mine made a desk by placing an old door on top of two filing cabinets.

Visit office supply and computer stores. You may be able to find a scratch and dent desk or last year’s computer model at a fraction of the original price. Buy printers, fax machines and phones using this approach, as well.

Online classified ad sites are a great place to find specialized equipment. A friend wanting to launch a photography business haunted Craigslist searching for the perfect lens and equipment. In time, he amassed a collection of high-end photography equipment for very little money. The preschool teacher wanting to start a home-based daycare business can find many materials online, at yard sales or through parents.

It All Together

So you’ve shopped the sales and scoured the yard sales for at least the rudimentary tools of your trade. The next step is to organize  those tools in an efficient, attractive way. Clean used furniture and equipment and make any necessary repairs. A coat of paint is often all it takes to make an old piece of furniture seem new again. I took an outside storage bench, old, rugged, and somewhat dilapidated, and made it look fresh again with a little sanding and a coat of paint.  It now resides in my office, and is the perfect place to hide away all those reams of copy paper.

Organize your desk and set up files to store important documents. Corral pens, staples, paper clips and other office supplies in bins or baskets. Keep copy paper, envelopes and file folders close at hand. Once your desk is organized, you’ll be surprised at how much more efficient you can be with the right tools.

Expand Slowly

Once your business starts to grow, you may be faced with the need to buy new tools and equipment. It’s easy to get carried away and think you need high-end office equipment, and hey, if you can afford it, go for it. Most home-based business owners start small and grow the business slowly. Before buying any new equipment, weigh out the potential benefits in income and productivity against the cost of the equipment.

In general, technology is usually a good investment. You’ll probably use your computer and printer everyday, so you need equipment that is up-to-date and high quality. A fax machine and phone are standard equipment for most companies. Don’t skimp there either. Ditto for a good office chair. You don’t want to end each day with an aching back.

If you’re on a budget, that cherry office credenza is probably an unnecessary expense, especially if clients rarely or never visit your home office. Durable, well-constructed, used furniture is often a very practical solution for the home-based business.

You’ll be more efficient and productive if you have the basic tools that you need, and with careful planning, you can stock your office and stay under budget.