laptop-on-tableHome-based businesses truly are a blast – you get to be something most people only dream about – your own boss. However, if it was that simple, no one would ever have a 9-to-5 job, so before getting the big idea of starting a home-based business out of the blue, you have to keep a couple of things in mind. The list that follows outlines these things for your convenience, so if you’re looking to get into the type of business in question, you should definitely read on.

Legalities

Neighborhoods and municipalities differ in many terms and the legal stuff is definitely one of these. While some are extremely beneficial for a home-based business, others frown upon this field of work. To make things even more complicated, there are some municipalities that require special permits and licenses, so making sure that you properly check the legal stuff with authorities is of essence – having your dreams end up a shipwreck isn’t the worst thing that might happen, you might also experience financial loss, owing to the fact that you didn’t properly check everything.

Company Structure

Do you want to be a limited company, business partnership, or a sole trader? This question should arise at the very top of your list. Technicalities such as paperwork depend a lot on the choice you make. More questions are outlined in terms of taxes you pay, how you take profit, as well as what occurs if and when you go through financial loss.

Company Name

It might seem trivial, but the company name you choose will greatly impact your customer base. If it’s a catchy name, people will talk about your home business more, which is a form of marketing that’s free of charge and, thus, something you definitely want for your business. Do you want your name to display what you do and stand for, or do you want it to be more abstract? You can find answers to this question right inside the product and/or service you’re pitching. On another note, choosing the company name early in the game is vital, so as to make sure that the one you’ve come up with isn’t already taken, which can easily lead to unnecessary complications.

Security

One of the downsides to a home-based business is outlined in the fact that you can’t really hire a security team – you don’t want armed personnel roaming around your house and backyard, with your children around, now do you? This is why it is vital for you, as a home-based entrepreneur to opt for proper security measures, physical and virtual alike. When it comes to online safety, a quality cloud service can go a long way in protecting your personal data. Installing cameras, however, will definitely cover your physical safety, but won’t protect your hard-copied documents from theft. This is why safes from Buy a Safe are so popular – even though we live in a progressive, virtual era, some businessmen still feel safer if they can physically touch their valuable data.

Start-up Strategy

Face it, it is extremely difficult to get a home-based business going nowadays, without stepping into the fast waters of the world of start-ups. It is the role of your business plan to outline the strategy you’re going to go for and your strategy will, in turn, help you determine the company structure, mentioned before. Researching the competition, of course, goes without saying.

Although home-based business tend to sound dreamy, and although the successful ones truly end up this way, there’s a lot of consideration that should be done beforehand. Analyze this guide thoroughly, stick to it, but don’t refrain from doing a bit of your own research – there is never enough information.

If you have a home business, it’s probably a foregone conclusion that you want to save money any way that you can, while still providing a top-notch product or service. The trick is to keep your overheard low by finding the best tools for the lowest price possible.

Well, as it turns out, the lowest price possible is called “free”, and what you’re about to see here are six awesome free Chrome extensions that are an indispensable part of any home business’ toolbox. Once you’re done enjoying these, check out more in the article “7 Killer Google Chrome Extensions for Your Business”.

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It never hurts to have a few free advantages to help bolster your home business

Stay Focused

When you work at home, there’s no boss looking over your shoulder (especially if you ARE the boss!). So it’s easy to innocently look up some item on the Internet, then get intrigued by a link in the article, which you click on, then follow another, and so on. Soon, that five minutes you were planning on spending looking up demographics in New England turns into two hours, and you end up staring at a selection of Azerbaijani pickle recipes.

Wasting time is detrimental to the home businessperson. Stay Focused helps cut your web time wasting habits by putting a cap on sites that you choose to limit your time checking out. Come up with your list, set the times you can spend on them, and you’re good to go. Call it an intervention, Chrome-style.

Yast

Do you charge clients by the hour? If so, this extension is for you. It helps you generate time sheets that you can imbed with comments, as well as color code. Don’t shortchange yourself anymore, while in turn showing your clients where the time went.

Google Calendar Checker

If you run a one-person business out of your home, then that means you’re the boss, the worker drone, the CFO, and the administrative assistant all rolled into one. In the latter case, that means keeping track of your appointments, where a missed meeting could adversely hurt your freelancer reputation. This app actually counts down the time until your next appointment, displaying it in your browser’s corner.

Full Contact

No, this isn’t a football app. Just set up your new account at fullcontact.com, install the extension that lets it access your Google account, and it will keep all of your contact lists synched with Google. Having your address book cleaned up and synched means fewer headaches down the road.

Xmarks Bookmark Sync

Although this article is geared specifically to Chrome users, many of us find ourselves sometimes using more than one browser, right? This extension actually synchs your bookmarks, passwords, user settings, and tabs among all of the browsers you use (e.g. Explorer, Safari, Firefox), whether they’re all on one computer or on several systems. Anyone who has had to juggle multiple browsers and try to remember what settings each has will find this extension invaluable, not to mention sanity-saving.

Mighty Text

So we’ve already helped people who need to keep multiple browsers organized, but what about something for the home business professionals who have multiple devices, like, for instance, a laptop and an Android smart phone? How about a goodie for them? Mighty Text helps you during those times when you’re working at your laptop, desktop, or tablet, when suddenly a text comes through on your smart phone, wherever the blasted thing ended up. With Mighty Text, all of your Android’s text messages, both the ones sent and received, show up in Chrome. The app synchs not only those messages, it also handles videos and images as well. Finally, if that phone’s battery is getting low, you’ll be notified about that as well.

Running a home business means having every advantage you can get your hands on. The above six are a good place to start. If you want some more tips on working from home, especially if Stay Focused was of particular interest to you, then check out “Working Smarter: How to Utilize Your Time Online When You Work From Home”.

John Terra has been a freelance writer since 1985. He admits to getting side-tracked during web searches way more often than he should.

It may not have a splashy storefront, an eye-catching neon sign, or a gaggle of go-getting employees, but your home-based business doesn’t need any of those things to thrive. After all, it offers top-notch products and services, provides excellent customer care, and, most importantly, it has you–the most dedicated and hard-working employee your business will ever have. And you will do anything to help your home business–your baby–achieve its full potential.

home business If you are eager to take your home business to the next level, here are a few easy and cost-effective ways to get started.

A Professional Web Site

While bricks and mortar stores have stunning signage and window displays to welcome their customers, you can become equally “present” by creating a professional website. A well-designed site will enable you to develop a brand image, showcase your products and services, make it easy for customers to contact you, and provide links to your blog or social media platforms.

And, as Entrepreneur‘s “10 Ways to Grow Your Home-Based Business” adds, creating a web site no longer involves a huge outlay of cash as do-it-yourself sites are now available for less than $30 per month with no technical knowledge required.

A Social Media Presence

If you wish to build your customer base, you will need to hit the hot spots where the people are hanging out–and, the hottest spots around are popular social media platforms. And, as an added bonus, they are free.

The hottest spot of all is Facebook with Twitter placing second, but depending on the type of business you are in, you may want to tap into some of the other platforms as well. If you offer a professional service or a largely B2B enterprise, you may wish to consider LinkedIn. If your business lends itself to visuals, you will want to operate a Pinterest account. Familiarize yourself with the different social media venues available and choose the ones that suit your business best.

And, remember, as Insightly’s “Like Bears to Honey: Find that Sweet Social Media Spot for Your Audience” warns, “the end game here should not be to make direct sales, but rather to create long time customers who keep coming back for more because they know they can trust you.”

A Platform for your Prowess

One great way to build brand loyalty and win the trust–and business–of your customers is to establish yourself as an authority in your industry. And there are several ways to do this.

One effective method involves creating a blog that is designed to discuss industry matters, educate consumers, and, of course, entertain your audience. WordPress, for example, offers an easy-to-use platform that even the blogging beginner can master without difficulty.

You may wish to conduct a seminar in person or strut your stuff on a YouTube video. And, as “10 Marketing Tools for Home-Based Businesses” suggests, offering to speak for local organizations, trade associations, or other gatherings will help you reach a wider audience.

A Thirst for Knowledge

One great way to grow your business is to grow your mind. The more you learn about your industry and the world of business in general, the better equipped you will be to defeat the competition and take your company to the next level.

Connect with industry experts through LinkedIn. Invite them to compose guest posts for your blog. And join industry organizations. If you’d like to learn business techniques, take a course at your local college, join the Chamber of Commerce to meet other business people, and embrace mastering new technologies.

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Who needs a splashy storefront to attract customers? Certainly not you. By following a few easy steps, you can transform your humble home-based business into a force to be reckoned with.

If you need help accomplishing the first step–setting up your website– you may want to check out “The Do’s and Don’ts of Launching a Website for Your Home Business.”

Kimberley Laws is a freelance writer and avid blogger who operates her own home business. You can follow her at The Embiggens Project.

Images courtesy of Thinkstock.com

happy young business man on whiteA new home-based business launches every 12 seconds in the United States, according to BusinessForHome.org. Ignore the legalities surrounding home-based business, though, and you may owe fines or even be forced to close your business entirely. The good news is you can avoid this potential disaster by doing things correctly from the start. Follow these essential steps to build a legal home-based business.

1. Choose the Right Structure for Your Business

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) says the main business choices you’ll encounter include a sole proprietorship, partnership, a DBA (“doing business as”), a cooperative, a limited liability company (LLC) and a corporation. Talk with an accountant before deciding on the structure of your business to make sure you’re getting the maximum monetary and legal benefits for your unique business situation.

2. Get Your EIN

EIN stands for “employer identification number.” It’s the number the IRS uses to identify your business. If you form an LLC or a corporation, you are required to obtain an EIN. Any business structure can obtain one free from the IRS website. Get one even if you have a sole proprietorship or partnership. It gives your business an air of authority.

3. Obtain an Official Business Mailing Address

Keep your home address private, even if you work there. It looks much less professional to potential clients if they know you’re working from home. Get a P.O. Box, a mailbox at a packing store, or a mailbox at a local business complex. You don’t have to have an office there. However, it makes your LLC or corporation seem more respectable.

Keep in mind, the address you choose is what will appear on public records regarding your business, so choose wisely. Have all business correspondence sent there, and register your company’s website to that address. People running the types of online ID theft phishing schemes protection services warn about will be much less likely to target a business that looks like a large organization on paper, LifeLock says.

4. Get the Necessary Licenses for Your Area

There are licensing and zoning rules for home-based businesses, and they are different in each individual community. Before you start accepting clients, you’ve got to make sure your business is compliant with local rules. This means a trip down to city hall or to the local tax collector’s office, depending on where this information is kept in your community.

Your community may require an annual business license, the SBA says. It may have zoning rules regarding what types of businesses you are allowed to run from your home based on your individual neighborhood. You might need certain inspections, such as a health inspection, to perform the service or make the product that is the basis of your business. If you have all the legalities in place before you open, you won’t have to pay penalties or back payments later.

5. Choose an Original Business Name

Of course, an original business name is important for making it easy for people to remember your company. It’s also important from a legal standpoint. You can’t use a name for your business if the name has been trademarked. Check the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to make sure your proposed name hasn’t been trademarked. If it hasn’t, it’s fair game. If it has and you use it anyway, you’ll be legally required to change your business name later if the company holding the trademark discovers your use of their proprietary name.

Having the luxury of working from home is awesome. You get to set your own hours and work in the clothes you’re most comfortable in – every day can be dress-down day!

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Is your home office safe and secure?

The Lifestyle of Working from a Home Office

There are lots of little fringe benefits that many people never expect, like the pleasure of having your dog next to you while you work or taking a coffee break on your back deck. These advantages make working from home a fabulous lifestyle, but that doesn’t mean you can completely let your guard down about everything.

Safety and Security

For instance, there are issues related to safety and security that have to be addressed. Fire safety is sometimes overlooked in a home office setting. But unfortunately, that can be a serious mistake.

An even more common tragedy for a home business is issues related to insufficient burglary protection for the home office. When you consider the fact that your business equipment is probably worth thousands of dollars, it just makes sense to invest in a quality home security system that can protect it.

Wireless Protection

Nowadays, you can purchase modernized wireless security systems that are easy to install and maintain. Because these systems are wireless, you don’t have to worry about an expensive installation process. In fact, the installation is very quick and easy.

This is a great option for anyone – especially for those that happen to rent. When it comes time to move, the system can be packed up and moved to the new home.

Cheaper Than Traditional Security Systems

One of the biggest advantages of these systems is the cost. When compared to traditional wired security systems, these new systems are considerably cheaper. You will never have to be concerned about wiring costs or worries that you will need to reroute plumbing to make way for the wires, which would involve a plumbing contractor and an electrical contractor.

Quality Features

Although the features offered can vary from one brand and product to another, the basic features of wireless security systems include fire and medical monitoring, and burglar alarms. Some also have gas and other emergency warnings.

Most have detailed keypads that integrate well with home decors. Hand-held transmitters are also available. The power supply is programmable, and users can choose from a variety of alarm modes and types.

How They Work

In order for a wireless security system to work, it is necessary to place sensors at various locations throughout the home. The burglary sensors are generally attached to windows and doors. When the door or window is jarred or opened, the sensor sends a signal to the main device. In other words, the alarm is engaged or activated.

Depending on how the system has been programmed, this will cause the system to contact the police and/or blast a siren. If the sensor picks up the hint of smoke or fire, it will act much like a smoke detector does. The signal goes to the security system, the alarm is engaged, and if the alarm is not deactivated within a given amount of time, the fire department will be notified.

It should also be noted that wireless systems can include motion sensors and surveillance cameras. The point is, these systems can be customized to include everything you need to fully protect your home office.

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Home office security isn’t just about protecting office equipment!

Wrapping Up

Sometimes we tend to get caught up in the pleasures of working at home. It can be easy to forget about the importance of safety and security – after all, home always feels safe and secure.

The best way to keep our home office safe and secure is to be proactive. Adding a wireless system is an inexpensive and easy step to take that will provide peace of mind and added protection. You’ll feel more confident about the safety of your business assets and your home security. Your peace of mind and safety is a worthwhile investment!

Debbie Allen is an online marketer, freelance writer, and blogger. Besides writing about topics related to online marketing and small business management, she also likes to write about self-development issues and topics related to the Law of Attraction.

A new mom encounters challenges that go beyond understanding colic or mastering the art of breastfeeding. The anxiety of returning to work is a reality most moms deal with at some point after having a baby. Developing business opportunities at home offers sustainable and profitable advantages for moms who need flexibility and financial resourcefulness.

What Keeps a Mom at Home?Mother and baby in home office with laptop and telephone

Parents commonly feel restricted to keep one spouse at home because of the high costs of childcare. The Vice President’s Middle Class Task Force estimates the average family spends between $4,000 to $15,000 each year for babysitting. Thirty nine states list child care expense as higher than college tuition, notes the a recent statement from the Middle Class Task Force. Secondly, emotions take a toll. Leaving your child in the hands of someone else, especially if they’re not family, while you slave away at a full-time brick-and-mortar office job is difficult for some parents to justify doing.

At-Home Work Options for Moms

Telecommunication opportunities and technological innovations help support the modern-day work-at-home mom and savvy businesswoman. Companies and firms recognize the benefits of outsourcing responsibilities to save on operating expenses, which includes utilizing working-from-home employees. With motherhood comes different perspectives and priorities — such as a career switch to accommodate the new familial role. Consider the following options that offer flexible schedules, yet still provide professional challenges:

  • Interior Decorator – If you have always enjoyed the creative side of life and have an eye for color, style and project management, interior decorating provides an independent schedule and a chance to play with other people’s money for aesthetic expression as an outside contractor.
  • Landscape Architect – Landscape architecture is the outdoor interior design and decorating profession for alfresco creativity. You can partner with local landscapers to transform yards into beautiful masterpieces while still having time to fulfill your motherly duties.
  • Nutritionist – This career is becoming more salient every day as people make the connection between disease and food choices. Build a private practice from a home office, set up an online website to connect with clients remotely via livechat or even write about food and fitness as a freelance writer or blogger.
  • Online Entrepreneur – People can make a serious living on sites like Etsy and eBay. Open a trash-to-treasure business or promote your own crafts or art by establishing a digital storefront. Turn an activity you enjoy for fun, like knitting or making soap, into a moneymaking endeavor.
  • Recipe Developer – Sound too good to be true? Someone has to be the mastermind behind delicious fare and sweet confections. A recipe developer can work from home for local restaurants, online sites, such as the Food Network, or publishers who specialize in cookbooks.

Tips for Working-at-Home Success

The devil is in the details when planning an at home career. If you start on the wrong foot, you may end up in a ditch instead of on a secure and steady career path. Here are some tips to keep in mind.

  • Organize, Organize, Organize: Be proactive, stay organized and strategize when planning. For example, set up your schedule so you can multi-task chores like shop for groceries while gathering work supplies.
  • Get Going Early: Get in the habit of waking up before the family to get a few things done before morning chaos ensues. Set the coffee pot timer and use this early, quiet time to be productive.
  • Don’t Tackle It All Yourself: Let your support system give you a hand when possible. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Motherhood is a full-time job, but you can still fulfill professional aspirations and a need to separate your identity from motherhood by fostering an at-home business. Working from home, independent consulting and online freelancing can open doors for moms who want to balance family and a career.

Whether you work for someone or you have the privilege of being self-employed within a home office setting, one thing that tends to be a top priority right around April 15 is finding all of the tax deductions that you can. That way, you will either be able to receive a bigger tax return or a lower amount of money that you will have to pay back to the IRS and local agencies.

Sometimes, figuring out the best way to maximize your home office tax deductions can prove to be a bit tricky. However, after doing a bit of reading and researching, we can provide you with five proven strategies that will help you to get the most out of your tax fillings this year.

1. Get Your Expenses Organized

The best chance that you have of getting as many tax deductions as possible is to make sure that you have your expenses organized. So, when it comes to having receipts that can prove the electronic equipment, office supplies and traveling costs that you purchased for the sole purpose of your business, make sure that you are prepared to list all of those. Thanks to websites like Shoeboxed.com, you don’t have to keep them in a box in your closet. You can file them all online.

2. Deduct a Percentage of your Home Office Space

If there is a room in your house that is exclusively and regularly used for business purposes, make sure to measure the square footage of that space, subtract it from the overall square footage of your home, and that is how much you can use as a tax deduction. Also, don’t forget that you can also deduct a certain percentage of the utilities, insurance and even your rent/mortgage payments as well.

3. Don’t Forget About Health Insurance

Here’s some news that will probably make you smile. If you are a self-employed entrepreneur who is paying your own health insurance for you and/or your family, the cost of that is something else that you are able to deduct. There is a catch, though. If you are someone who uses your at-home business as a secondary job or you have a full-time job too, then the deduction doesn’t qualify.

4. Read About the “Special Rules” for Those Running a Daycare or Using Their Home for Storing Inventory

If you are someone who is using your home to run a daycare or if you’re using your house in order to store business inventory or product samples, there are special rules that apply to you. To read more about them, go to IRS.gov and put “business use of your home” in the search field.

5. Have a Professional Tax Preparer Assist You

Whether it’s the 2013 tax code or figuring out which form to fill out, it’s understandable why trying to make sense out of your taxes can prove to be a bit frustrating. That’s why you may want to hire a professional accountant or tax preparer to assist you. They are trained specialists who know how to seek out deductions that you might overlook. Sure, you may have to pay them a couple of hundred dollars to do the work, but if it means saving several hundred on the back end, then it’s money well spent.

When you’re someone who runs your business from home, while there are many benefits that come with doing so (like working out of the comfort of a home office rather than in a corporate setting), one of the biggest challenges is finding creative ways to market your business without breaking your budget.

This is especially important being that 50 percent of all businesses close their doors within five years, and as a home professional, this means that you have to work twice as hard to get your company’s name out into the world.

If you’ve been looking for some effective sales and marketing tips for work, we have five for you that can definitely draw more customers and clients to your business.

1. Keep Details to a Minimum

It might surprise you to know that one tip that a lot of successful at-home business professionals offer is that you should not be quick to volunteer that you run a business from home to new clients and customers. That’s because some people assume that a business that’s ran from home will not be “up to par” with more commercial companies. Let them praise your service first and then, when it’s needed, share with them the details of how and where you conduct your business.

2. Boost Up Your Social Media

There used to be a time when having a professional website up was good enough when it came to making your presence known in cyberspace. However, as more social media websites are introducing themselves to the internet marketplace, you have to be more proactive about being tech savvy. Make sure to have a Facebook profile page, a Twitter and LinkedIn account, as well as a Pinterest page. Also, don’t forget to add a Google+ account to your list so that you can take advantage of their video chat feature.

3. Do Lots of Networking

When you first started your business, you were probably excited to simply get the word out to your family members and friends but in order to gain a real profit, you need to make more people aware of what you have to offer. One way to do that is by networking. Join the local branch of your Chamber of Commerce, attend citywide and regional conferences about entrepreneurship and business development. Get involved in local trade shows and become a part of civic associations that you are passionate about. The more people who know about you, the better it will be for your business.

4. Have Marketing Supplies

People still like to win things like T-shirts, pens and even adhesive stickers so make sure that you have a few things with your company’s logo printed up on them. You can hold a contest on your website, Facebook fan page or even through a YouTube subscription channel where people can enter to win and even share the giveaway link with some of their friends.

5. Get on the Local Community Calendars

Although paying money to take out an ad in your local newspaper or one of the popular radio stations continues to be effective, if you’re on a tight budget, you can also submit press releases about the events that you’re having to their community calendar. Usually all that is required is you turn it in a few weeks before your event. It’s also a smart way to cultivate a relationship with the media outlets in your city, all without spending a single dime.

You’ve likely heard the phrase “everyone’s a publisher” sometime in the last couple of years. Heck, you’ve likely heard this phrase a lot of times — maybe even way too many times. But this is because it’s true, and if you’re trying to launch your own website, whether it be personal or commercial in nature, it applies directly to you.

If you’re launching your own website, you’re officially one of the publishers mentioned in that little catch phrase. If you’re doing this with little formal education or training, and especially if you’re doing it on a shoestring budget, then you’re most definitely a part of the “everybody” described in it as well.

Putting yourself online has never been easier, and whether you’re looking to expand the presence of your blog or your small business, there has never been more ways for you to do it, and do it effectively.

Launching your own website is exciting, fun, and creative — but there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it, just like there is with almost anything. If you really want your web page to hit the ground running, we’ll talk about some of the things you should make sure to do, and some of the practices you should give a wide berth.

Don’t Keep Quiet About Your Website

When you’re launching your business you definitely don’t want to do it in a vacuum. Get the word out somehow, it doesn’t matter how. If you’ve got a brick and mortar business that your new website is supplementing, make sure you’re talking about its new website there. Put up flyers. Run parallel social media accounts so you can join the relevant discussions and make your voice heard.

If you want to have any kind of attention coming your way, then you need to work at getting your name out there, and join the conversation wherever you can. Go out on a limb and talk to influencers. If they talk back, you might wind up with some incredibly affordable brand equity.

Do Employ a Solid SEO Campaign

Get yourself some kind of search engine optimization campaign in place. This is more commonly referred to as SEO, and it’s an important part of your website’s visibility. A good SEO campaign will determine how easily your website is found in search results when the relevant terms are searched, and making sure this is in place is the same as making sure your website doesn’t get buried under the massive amounts of content also competing for attention online.

It’s never been easier to create your own website, which is a great thing — but it also means a lot more competition. Making sure that you don’t launch your website without the right marketing initiatives in place is the best way to guarantee that you can get noticed and get people paying attention to your site.

It’s never been easier to publish your content, so it’s more important than ever for you to make sure you’re doing everything you can to get it noticed.

What are some other do’s and don’ts that are essential when starting a website? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below!

If you’ve decided to quit your day job and start a business out of your home, the world probably seems full of possibilities. Chances are you’ve thought about the change for quite a while, and now is just the right time for it.

First of all… Congratulations on your decision!

Entrepreneurs enjoy a huge amount of benefits over salaried workers. They control their own schedule, work to grow a business they are actually passionate about, and have no hard cap on their earning potential. Of course, starting from scratch at a home office can also be a daunting task. You’ve no longer got an office manager setting you up, or an IT department to come in and handle any breakdowns. There’s no secretary, and no interns to go get lunch. It’s all on you.

Thankfully, if you bring in the right technology for support you can ease your transition and increase your chances of success. Here are five of the top tech essentials for work-at-home professionals.

Tech Essential #1: The Right Computer

First and foremost, you’ve got to have the right computer. In the information age, that’s a non-negotiable necessity. Regardless of your industry, an entrepreneur working from home will always need a reliable computer to work on. You’ll have to decide which brand fits you the best, and if you want a powerful desktop computer or a laptop that’s easy to transport. Your business needs may make that decision for you, but whichever way you go, this should be your first step.

Tech Essential #2: Proper Information Storage

After a computer, you’re going to need some digital way to store your information. Most people use external hard drives, which can back up everything on the computer. Get one that can sit by your desk, to use as your principal backup and organization device, and another smaller drive you can bring with you. Also grab one of the small USB drives you can bring to a meeting in a pinch. Another option is to go with a cloud storage system, which will save you the hardware purchases. Hop online and check out some of the monthly plans to help you pick the right direction for your needs.

Tech Essential #3: Communication Devices

Now that the computer is handled, you’re going to need additional communication devices. Although there are tons of options, many businesses still install a landline to use as their main business number. That allows you to connect it with an address, and avoid dropping calls due to poor cellphone signal. But if you want to keep it mobile, get a great cellphone with a data plan so you can manage your business from wherever you may be.

Tech Essential #4: Tablet or Multi-Functional Device

In this market, you’re going to need another mobile device to complete your toolkit. The cellphone is great, but what about for presentations or pitching clients while on the road? In those instances, consider a tablet or other multi-functional mobile device. The new iPad has a mirroring function, so you could actually run a full PowerPoint presentation off of it, without the need for a projector. Many of them can also be set up to take credit cards if your business is transactional. Just get the mobile device that best fits your needs.

Tech Essential #5: Software

Finally, complete your tech needs with the proper range of software. Sure, screen protectors will help your eyes handle all those hours of computer work, but what do you have to help you with accounting, security, word processing, design, advertising, and international communications. Pick up the most current versions of software that covers your business requirements, and take the time to learn any of them that you don’t understand. And certainly pick up a solid financial planning program. You may outsource your accounting eventually, but at first you’ll be handling the books, and you simply must get it right.

Taking advantage of technology will allow you to be more efficient with your work-at-home business.