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Office for Less: Create a Home Office for Under $500

Although the flood of people losing their jobs due to recession-based problems seems to be slowing, some are finding it difficult to reenter the job force. While some return to school for more training, many are looking to become their own boss and start their own business. If you’re one of these enterprising folks, your first step into entrepreneurship should be the establishment of your office.

Whether it’s in your home or in a rented space, nothing says, “I’m about my business,” like having your own office to take calls, have meetings, and of course, count your profits.  While we have an idea of our dream office, complete with expensive espresso machine and impeccably dressed receptionist, we might not have the funding to finance those dreams. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a stylish set up complete with impressive and functional gadgets to help build your empire. Here are a few items that are must have for that new office.

Netbooks – Portable, functional, and affordable, netbooks are the notebook’s little brother. While it may not have all the power that a notebook has under the hood, they can still get the job done. If you’re planning on using it for word processing, creating invoices, sending email, and internet access, a netbook might be all you need. With prices ranging between $200-$500, their a viable addition to any office and their portability means you can conduct business from just about anywhere.  Brands to check for: Acer, Dell, Asus

Wireless Router – An essential part of any office, because let’s face it, without internet access, you’re basically dead in the water. Ranging from $40-100, the wireless router eliminates all those messy and unsightly wires and allows you to create your own private network where all your gadgets can work together in perfect harmony. Brands to check for: Belkin, Linksys, Netgear

Phone – I know what you’re thinking, “why should I spring for another phone line when I have my cell?” While you could use your cell phone to handle your business, having to interrupt an important business call because your mom or your people are on the other line is unprofessional at worst and distracting at best. Besides that, you never know when you’ll need to fax something. Spring for the landline and keep it strictly business. A basic phone with call waiting, forwarding, caller ID, and speakerphone should be sufficient so don’t go overboard with the price. $20-50 is more than enough money. Brands to check for: Panasonic, Uniden, VTech

Printer/Fax/Copier – Thankfully we live in an time when a gadget that multitasks isn’t automatically a piece of crap. So an all-in-one printer is a safe and inexpensive bet. Cut the neighborhood print shop and do all your own faxing, printing and copying. Thanks to the wireless router, you won’t have to worry about fumbling around with wires. Just set it up on your network and you’re good to go. A basic setup should cost between $60-200. Brands to check for: HP, Epson, Lexmark

The path to  is paved with many obstacles and triumphs. And while it’s cool and satisfying to be in your own office surrounded by all your shiny new tech. The office is only as good as the person that runs it. So save those receipts for tax season, stay focused, and get grinding.

5 Comments

Comments

I use eFax but I will confess that I have a normal fax machine as well. Typically efax comes in handy when I have a document that is already in electronic format…then again in most cases I just email it. It s still good for incoming faxes. I use my traditional fax to…well…fax. It's a pain to have to scan something in and then use efax.

I use Google Voice as a business line that goes to my cell. I am however one of those annoying people who has incoming calls and since I have an iPhone the person on the other line can hear it beep in.

A landline phone isn't really something I would suggest, especially if they are paying for a decent cell phone service. Skype with incoming calls and good headseat is enough.You don't have to spend $20-60 a month, just $20 every three months for an incoming line. Bonus: If you got Google Voice, you will only need the incoming calls feature for Google Voice can dial numbers out for you.

For faxes, eFax (or any internet fax) is more than enough. It's extremely rare that clients have something to fax to me, so I never went beyond the free eFax. And if it's something requiring a signature, Echosign is what I work with.

I use eFax but I will confess that I have a normal fax machine as well. Typically efax comes in handy when I have a document that is already in electronic format…then again in most cases I just email it. It s still good for incoming faxes. I use my traditional fax to…well…fax. It's a pain to have to scan something in and then use efax.

I use Google Voice as a business line that goes to my cell. I am however one of those annoying people who has incoming calls and since I have an iPhone the person on the other line can hear it beep in.

A landline phone isn't really something I would suggest, especially if they are paying for a decent cell phone service. Skype with incoming calls and good headseat is enough.You don't have to spend $20-60 a month, just $20 every three months for an incoming line. Bonus: If you got Google Voice, you will only need the incoming calls feature for Google Voice can dial numbers out for you.

For faxes, eFax (or any internet fax) is more than enough. It's extremely rare that clients have something to fax to me, so I never went beyond the free eFax. And if it's something requiring a signature, Echosign is what I work with.

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