This article is really useful for those of us who work from home, I particularly like number 9, my body clock dictates that I work late into the evening when I am feeling more creative.  I hope you find the tips helpful, if you have any other tips around working from home please leave a comment or send me a message.

One of the fun parts of setting up your home business is setting up your home office. Here are some hot tips to make sure you invest wisely in everything you will need.

1. Create a dedicated space that is your ‘office’.

Ideally, your office should be a dedicated space – an entire room if possible, or, at least, a sizeable part of one. You will need a clear space to work, which has enough power sockets and a phone-line connection nearby. Make sure your workspace is free from noise and distractions, such as a TV or washing machine.

Also, think about the additional room you will need for other necessary furniture (filing cabinet, stationery storage, etc).

2. Create a permanent, comfortable and healthy desk space.

When choosing a desk, make sure it has large enough area to accommodate the work you will be doing. It is tempting, particularly when using a small space, to choose a small desk or a cupboard workstation. Just make sure you have enough room to spread out.

Make sure the chair you choose is fully adjustable and comfortable. You will be spending a lot of time at your desk, so a healthy posture is essential.

3. Set up your telephone system.

First, you need to consider whether you will: use your home telephone number; get a new, dedicated business line installed; use Skype (if you have excellent broadband); or, register a non-geographic (0844) number that will divert calls to your home number during office hours.

Each option has its benefits, so consider carefully which is best for you before making your choice. Do not use more than one, as they will all ring together!

Do not use a mobile phone number as your main business number. This will destroy your credibility, as it screams ‘one-man-band’. If you want to use a mobile, divert your landline to it using BT Call Divert.

4. Set up professional call handling for when you are away from you desk.

Who will answer your telephone if you are on a call or out of the office? There is nothing more likely to lose a potential client than an unanswered enquiry call. You cannot be at your desk every minute of the working day, so set up a real, live-person call-handling service.

5. Research and purchase your computer.

When deciding which type of computer to buy, consider how you will be working and which option is best for you. If you will be working away from the office from time to time, you might want to choose a laptop. If you do, and you will be using it at your desk for extended periods, it is best to put it on a stand with the screen at eye level, and to use a proper keyboard and mouse.

Consider a large external hard drive for backing-up and storing large files, and make sure you also have an online back system such as Carbonite.

6. Additional equipment you will need.

Consider an all-in-one printer, scanner and copier, as it saves space. You can get one with an integral fax machine, although, you can also use an online fax services from your 0844 number provider, or Efax, if required.

You will also need a shredder for disposing of confidential documents. You will need a transcription pedal if you plan to offer the service, or think that you might be asked to. You may need a binder, laminator and guillotine. Again, only invest in these if you need them for a specific job, or for your own marketing use.

7. Set up specific work times and create boundaries.

Although one of the joys of working from home in your own business is that you can work whenever you choose to, unless you set specific work times, one of two things will happen. You will either spend all day dipping in and out of work and end up achieving very little, or, you will find yourself working all the time.

Set specific hours of work and concentrate only on work during that time. Make sure your family and friends know that you are working during those hours, so you are not disturbed. Also, make sure that your clients know your hours of work, so that they contact you when appropriate. It is fine to have different working hours from the standard 9 to 5, but make sure your clients are aware of this. They will be frustrated if they can’t get hold of you. And, you do not want constant interruptions outside of your work time.

8. Arrange your household chores so they do not interfere with your work schedule.

Make sure you do not get drawn into doing your household chores when you should be working. No one likes a pile of dirty dishes in the sink, or damp clothes in the washing machine, but these can be sorted out to fit in with your working day. Do the washing up while you are waiting for the kettle to boil when making a cup of tea or coffee. Hang out the washing while your lunch is in the oven or microwave.

If you start each day doing the your household chores before you start work, it is very easy to get sidetracked and not get any work done before lunchtime.

9. Plan your time around your body clock and lifestyle.

Are you a morning person? Some people work better in the mornings, others are more effective later in the day. When is your best time? Working for yourself means that you can be flexible enough to schedule your day around your most effective times. If your concentration is better in the mornings, use that time to work on projects that require concentration.

Also consider your household. What is the normal routine? Does the postman always knock the door around 10am? Do the kids come home mid-afternoon?

If you know you will be interrupted at certain times, use those times to complete low-concentration or simple tasks.

10. Investigate insurance and make sure you are covered.

Does your insurance cover you for your business activities? It is important to consider if your household insurance covers you for public liability, particularly if you allow clients to visit your home.

In addition, you should look at professional indemnity insurance to protect you and your business in case a client decides to take legal action against you.

Copyright 2010 by Justine Curtis

About the Author:
Justine Curtis is the director of her own successful virtual assistant business My Virtual Assistant which is now recruiting a team of virtual assistant licensees and founder of The UK Association of Virtual Assistants (UKAVA) which offers free resources and information to its subscribers – sign up at Justine is the author of Setting Yourself Up As A Virtual Assistant and is proud to be able to pass on the benefits of her vast experience of the VA role to aspiring and progressive virtual PAs as a co-founder of the VA Success Group.

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