When you spend as much time as I have working with different folks in their various at-home workspaces, you start to notice some of the things that consistently are important to being a successful work-at-homer. Of course, some of the things that help people do their best work are big, obvious things, like staying organized, managing one’s time well, and the like. But I’d like to shine a light on some of the things that are smaller and more easily overlooked – but are also, in my experience, very helpful. In fact, these are things I recommend to every person I work with in a home office:
- Everybody needs a label maker. Labeling files, containers, and drawers helps to define where your stuff and your paper live, and makes their homes more official. When things are clearly labeled, it’s easier to put things away and to stay organized. Label makers aren’t too expensive – some of my favorite Brother models can be found on sale at many office supply stores for under $30. Keep your label maker and extra label cassettes handy, and as soon as you create a new file folder or put stuff in a container, create a label immediately.
- Ensure the safety and security of the data in your business. Every person who uses a computer needs a system for regularly backing up their data. Imagine what would happen if your hard drive crashed or your laptop was stolen. How long would it take you to reconstruct your client database, your calendar, and your financial information – if you could even do it at all? If you’ve taken the time to create anything on your computer, it’s worth spending the time to back it up. Now, I realize that adding one more task to your already busy day isn’t the advice you were hoping for – but there is a solution. More and more, I recommend automatic online backup services, like Mozy, that work while your computer is idle and upload your data to a secure offsite server. Also consider keeping hard copies of key documents in a safe location offsite.
- Invest in insurance. This is probably the least fun thing in the world to spend your hard-earned cash on, but I believe having the right insurance is key to any business owner sleeping well at night. I’m consistently surprised how many of my clients just don’t have insurance – most just haven’t thought of it – and why should they? After all, if you already have homeowners or renters insurance, your home office is covered by your existing policy, right? In most cases, wrong. Many insurance policies require a special rider or provision for home offices and home-based businesses to cover the material owned by the business, such as inventory, computers and other equipment, and supplies. Additionally, you might want to consider general business liability insurance and/or specialized insurance for your profession. It’s a good idea to check with your insurance agent to see what can be added or modified on your existing policy to cover both you personally as well as your business.
Probably not the three things you were thinking of… but all are important to your home office. Of course, there are a great many other things that are important to creating successful home office, and they are all important to different degrees. These three are easy to take care of and can really help you create a strong foundation for your business.