Setting up an office within your home can be a lot more challenging than you think. A den with a desk, computer and a small filing cabinet would be great for doing your taxes and paying your utility bills, but you would need something a bit more elaborate if you are planning on running an entire business from home. Whether you are selling trade goods like homemade housewares and décor, or rendering specialized services to clients in your area, you'll want to devise an efficient home office system for the most success. Here are some simple suggestions to help you obtain everything you would need to run a home office on a tight budget.
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Finding Office Space in Your Home
Some people may have the luxury of a spare bedroom or den to use as their home office, while others may have to build their own home office space. If you're one of the less fortunate and you're looking for a location to setup your home office, don't spend a fortune on adding square footage to your home. All you have to do is find a corner or section of the home and define it as your office space:
Section off your office from the rest of the room with dividers
Having a wall divider or screen to define your office space is no different than having a cubicle in a regular office building. Since you're the boss, make sure you give yourself as much room as possible. You can even give yourself a view by setting up in a part of the home that has a large window. Homebodies can save big on their tax bill.
Choose an area with limited distractions
A walk-in closet or a stair landing might be a more suitable place for your office. Using your living room or bedroom for your office might tempt you into being unproductive with a TV and a bed in such close proximity.
Affordable Office Supplies
If you're running a business from home, the last place you would want to shop for office supplies is from the big office supply chains. Leave these places for the bigger businesses. Head to discount stores and start browsing for the best deals on essential office supplies. Try to buy in bulk at warehouse club stores, or buy second-hand office supplies at garage sales and thrift stores. Keep an eye out for offices in the area that are going out of business and see if they are willing to sell, or even donate, some of their left over office supplies. In the worst case scenario, you can shop at an office supply chain, but make sure you sign up for a club membership and loyalty reward points before you buy.
Cut Your Printing and Paper Costs
The first thing you need to do if you want to save on home office expenses is to go paperless. This will eliminate the need for obtrusive filing cabinets everywhere, lighten the clutter around your desk and save you money on paper costs. Here are a few tips that can help you save big:
Ditch the idea of having your own fax machine
It's an unnecessary expense that can be easily replaced by Internet faxing or emails, which will save money on paper, toner and maintenance on a regular fax machine. Plus, you'll save money by cutting that extra phone line for your fax machine.
Go for a scanner-printer combo
Even if you're trying to go paperless, you're likely to have a few incoming paper documents to deal with. Invest in a scanner-printer combo to convert paper documents into electronic data.
Change your font color and type
This can save you money and help you get the most out of your ink cartridge.
Start using both sides of the printer paper
While you may want to keep certain documents strictly one-sided, you can cut paper costs by printing certain documents and printouts on both sides of the paper.
Furnishing Your Office on the Cheap
Before you set out to buy a new desk, printer, fax machine, computer, filing cabinets, calendars, planners, dry-erase boards, motivational posters and an office lamp, take a moment to plan out what you really need for your home office. If you've decided on going paperless, you probably won't need as many filing cabinets as you think. Internet faxing eliminates the need for a fax machine. Once you've figured out what your essential office items are, you can start furnishing. Here are some tips to help you get started:
Scan your home for old items and decor
Think about any pictures, posters, photos or paintings that you've had to store because they didn't match your new bedroom linens. They might go well in your new office space. Old, empty flower pots can be used to hold various office supplies like pens, pencils and paperclips.
Buy refurbished big ticket items
Garage sales and store clearances are great places to look for an office desk and chair. Search for websites that specialize in selling refurbished computers and laptops. Some of these second-hand items even come with a warranty.
Save on Internet Connection, Phone Lines and Office Software
The final things you'll need for running your home office on a budget are an affordable Internet and phone connection, and office software. For an Internet connection and office phone line, check your local providers for package deals. Many affordable Internet deals can be obtained at very low monthly costs. The only catch is you need to sign up for a phone plan as well. This works perfectly for a home office that would need a separate line from your home phone anyway.
For office software, avoid using the big name brands. You can find much more affordable software online that can meet all of your office needs, from operating systems to affordable word processors. A lot of downloadable software comes free through a trial version, and usually requires a small purchase fee to use the full version instead.
Know Your Business
Saving money on overhead costs is important for running a home office on an affordable budget, but it's also important to know where you need to spend and where you need to save. If your business is reliant on a fast Internet connection and a powerful computer rig, you'll probably want to pay top-dollar on these expenses, while saving elsewhere. Likewise, if you have a business that requires more time spent out of the office than in the office, you can probably afford to save on high end office items, and invest more money on the necessary tools and equipment needed for when you're on a job. Whatever the case may be, make sure you plan ahead before you start setting up your office, so you can devise the most efficient plan for running a business from inside your home.
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