Home Based Business Workshop
What equipment do I need?
The different types of work available to a home-office business is almost unlimited and is certainly equal to the number of tasks performed on a computer by anyone sitting in a cubical or at a desk in any office anywhere in the world.
There are basic equipment and software requirements regardless of the type of assignments you intend to target for your home-office. We will look at those essentials and give recommendations of some great free stuff that will really add value to your home-office business by increasing the number of projects you can apply for.
- PC, Mac or Laptop – Ideally this should be a piece of equipment less than two years old to ensure it has sufficient operating capacity to meet all your needs
- A reliable high-speed broadband/DSL internet connection
Those are the only absolutely vital pieces of equipment you will need to set up your home-office business and start applying for remote jobs and projects. Of course there are other pieces of equipment your home office will need later on and most are already a common component in the most basic of family computer packages.
Scanners, printers, fax machines and even all-in-one combos are available at all computer stores and these days they are relatively inexpensive. If for any reason you don’t have the funds to invest in equipment right away and all you have is a lap-top and an internet connection; you really can get by with just that for quite some time.
There are few projects and assignments that require you to have the equipment with well over 90% of basic office admin jobs being completely paperless. But if it is a case of getting by until you can get the equipment then you can find the facilities to scan print or fax at most local libraries and internet cafes.
Do I need a website?
I knew you would be thinking about this quite early on; so I will touch on that briefly.
You do not need a website straightaway and not having a website will not stop you from getting work or running your home office business. Your website is something that we will talk about in depth when we discuss your online presence.
However you should get yourself some cheap web hosting – firstly so you can purchase and register your desired domain giving you the domain email that you need to communicate with any employers you get immediately, using the brand identity you will ultimately be marketing.
Some freelancers are content with using a Gmail address, but if you intend to build yourself into a recognizable and branded business unit that must be perceptual as well as actual; so identity is important.
And of course once you have all the physical elements of your home based office business set-up you are then ready to work on your website straight away as soon as you ready. I will talk about structuring your website in later posts; but for now purchase a domain name at the very least – there is a button link to a good provider that I use myself on the right of the page.
Okay, so now to look at the software other essential resources you will need…
- An office software suite for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and all those capabilities you would associate with the likes of office software suites such as Microsoft Office, Works and Corel; to name a few.
It is highly recommended that you also take advantage of an open source software suite such as OpenOffice which can read and write files from all the other office software programs; it is completely free of charge and can be found at Openofficedotorg
- As many of the popular instant messengers as possible – i.e. Yahoo Messenger & Windows Messenger
- A Skype account – Skype is a free software application that allows you to make free voice and video calls to other Skype users – There are also very reasonable packages available where you can make telephone calls to landlines and cell phone numbers worldwide as well as being able to purchase your own Skype telephone number – you can even choose the area code you want.
It is fast becoming the preferred method of communication by employers; the free aspects of Skype to Skype communication, the low cost of calling packages combined with a generous fair use policy set at 10,000 minutes a month also makes Skype a sensible, reliable and inexpensive communication solution for your home office.
Package costs range from $8 to $16 per month depending on whether you want just domestic or international calls; you can also have your own phone number that you can use online or from any Skype compatible own cell phone.
The maximum annual cost for a Skype phone number and unlimited international phone calls is $242 – this is cheaper than many of the regular phone and cable companies.
But to start with all you need is to actually download the Skype application at http://www.skype.com/intl/en-gb/get-skype/on-your-computer/windows/
For your home-based business you will only need to consider one of the calling packages once you start applying to projects that require make and receive phone calls
- File storage, File back-up and File transfer are all functions that you will need to have readily available on an ongoing basis. You have to remember that all the files on your computer, both your personal files and clients work in progress and completed work that is ready for delivery are all vitally important; and if anything happens to your computer and that is the only place you have your files stored then you have lost it all.
There are several ways to store and back-up files; the simplest method is to transfer your files to CD or to an external hard drive on a regular basis; or if and when you do have web-hosting there will be generous file storage included in any package.
What you then also have to bear in mind is that, not only do you need some secure storage for your files but you also need to be able to receive files from your employers and be able to deliver drafts and completed work to them.
Most email hosts cannot receive or send files larger than 10MB and you will have to transfer larger files on a regular basis, so you will need a simple and reliable solution.
There are many options on the internet; if you perform a search with phrases such as ‘free file transfer’ of ‘free file storage’ you will find lots of sites where you can sign-up for a free membership. With most of the resources you will find there is always a free membership level that gives you limited use of the service.
Even though most of them offer very generous free file storage space at the basic member level, uploading and downloading files is slow; the faster priority service being reserved for premium membership accounts that pay a monthly or annual fee.
Here are two resources that I strongly recommend as they give the best function and control in the storage and transfer of files at the free basic account level and offer the best value for money at the premium account level should you need to upgrade in the future.
4shared.com is a resource that gives you 10GB of space at the free account level and allows you to share as many files as you want that are no larger than 200MB each. You are able to manage your files via the website or alternatively you can download the desktop application. When sharing of file is selected by you a URL link is created for you to provide to the people you want to give the file; you also have the option of including password protection access to any shared file.
- Upgrading to a premium account will increase your storage space to 100MB and the maximum single file size for transfer to 5GB. The cost is $9.95 per month with discounts available for 3, 6 and 12 month packages
- https://www.dropbox.com/ This resource gives you 2GB of free storage space, but you can increase this by inviting friends and earning an additional 250MB per friend that accepts up to a maximum of 8GB; so 10GB total available with a free basic account. Files are shared by inviting the intended recipient to share the folder that the files are contained in; of course you can create one file for each individual or invite multiple people to a folder for multi person collaboration. Once an invitation to share a file is accepted that person can take delivery of anything that is put in the folder.
There are two levels of premium account – 50GB of storage for $9.99 per month or $99.00 per year or 100GB of storage for $19.99 per month or $199.00 per year.
An additional feature with either of the premium accounts on Dropbox is that you have permanent file recovery; any files that are deleted or removed from any folder that you have created can be retrieved at any time.
Okay so that is everything you need to get started on the task of finding remote jobs and projects and earning your income from your home based office business.