If you’ve recently been laid off (or feel that it's coming), you know that it might take a while to find another full-time job. Deep breath. In the meantime, you want to work. In this age of “jobless recovery,” why not create your own business?
Most people become consultants because they have experience in their field, and because they’ve reached levels of competence and have strong enough networks to make it a viable undertaking. One immediate positive: Consultants have very low overhead.
With the following equipment, your home office will be as good as any office anywhere:
-Get a good, big desk. We adore (and need) a desk that has a work surface of at least 71"W x 71"D to easily accommodate a monitor and printer. Desks range in price, but about $350 should do the trick. We found a spacious “deluxe, loft-style computer desk” at Overstock.com for $245, and an even cheaper “executive model” for $212. That beat out Best Buy’s computer desk by at least $20 to $40! That’s almost enough for your first business lunch! But beware: Overstock.com changes prices almost daily.
-Go ergonomic, too, because you’ll be spending a lot of time at your desk. You could spend thousands on a good desk chair, but if you don’t have that kind of money, try an Obus Forme Customair Backrest Support pad, which can be had at SitBetter for $95.
-We LOVE the Hewlett Packard Photosmart wireless multifunction printer/copier/scanner, which, at $129 at Best Buy, is an excellent bargain (printer/copier/scanner). If you don’t have a wireless computer, you can still get a multifunctional printer/copier/scanner, and that’s even cheaper. The HP Deskjet F4480 All-In-One Printer, Copier, Scanner costs $80 at both Office Depot and Staples; here is a link to the model at Office Depot. Now you can afford that bottle of Veuve Cliquot to celebrate your first client!!! Don’t bother to get a fax machine – scanning a document and then sending it in an email is just as good (maybe also faster and more reliable) than sending a fax, so one of those combos will definitely do the trick.
-You also need an external hard drive. This is crucial. If your business is completely encapsulated in your computer and something happens, you are completely out of luck. You can get an entire terabyte for about $100, and it’s more than worth the investment. Back up your files at least once a week.
-Get a smart phone, and get a good one. I have an iPhone, and couldn’t live without it.. The Internet interface is fantastic, and it allows you to work from anywhere. You'll always look like you’re sitting behind your desk, diligently working away. No one needs to know that you’re really sitting on a beach checking emails and editing documents. And besides, it’s a business expense...so write the $300 off!
-Finally, I use a leather-bound notebook to keep all my thoughts together; you will find what works for you. For me, the notebook becomes my traveling brain. You can find a nice, faux leather-bound version for about $7.
Now, go out there and get some business!