Category Archives: Working from Home

Can I Work From Home Without Knowledge of Computer or Internet?

Of course you can work from home – with or without computer. Let’s call it Offline Work From Home Opportunities. But not having knowledge about computer is not a nice thing to happen to people living in today’s age and pace. You may be 65 years of age, but that is not an excuse for not having simple computer knowledge.

Anyway, let us get back to our main topic and discuss opportunities that can be pursued without computer (I will insist you keep at least your accounts on your computer. Assuming the business will grow to an extent that keeping manual accounting records will be impractical). On that positive note let us yet again come back to the main topic.

You can work from home as a home improvement, beauty, consultant, hair styling expert, or even therapist. You won’t believe, someone I know works from home as Pedicure Expert. All she has is a cell phone, a vehicle, and pedicure kit and skill. And she has a wide clientele and makes money that many people in a 9-5 job can’t think of. You can even consider becoming a Mystery Shopper and get paid in cash.

You can even consider starting crèche or day care centre for kids. This occupation is in great demand and once you click with parents, you will never run short of kids. You can even do tuitions at home for subjects that you can deal with.

You can even become representative of a chain marketing company, depending on your interest and confidence in the products. So many men and women I personally know are making good income by selling Avon and Amway products.

You can consider designing stationary or textile from home if you are interested in designing. You can get attached to textile designing people or printing people to get business. If you are good with embroidery and would like to pursue it professionally, hand embroidery is in great demand; you just need to network with the right kind of people to make it a rewarding career. These days call centres can be operated from home, you can become a call centre agent

You will need to learn these skills if you don’t already do. Generally people put their education and training that they have learnt earlier to use by working from home. You can upgrade or polish your skills according to current trend.

If you have any such skill, or are interested in pursuing your interested as profession and need help from us, feel most free to write to us and we shall get back to you with a solution & reply within no time.

When you talk to us and discuss your options, you will be surprised to know there is so much one can do if one is willing to put in some initial work and planning.

We will look forward to hearing from you. Once you tell us what you want to do, we will write and tell you how best you can go about it and achieve your goals.

Working from Home Online; Good or Bad?

Only a few kinds of jobs could be done from home in the past but now internet has enabled us to work from home and be in touch with thousands or even millions of people. You can buy, sell, order, read, write, distribute, announce, advertise and … from home just through a small desk computer. This is the power of internet. I know people who make up to $1,000,000 per year, just by a few hours of working from home. They buy and sell the things that they have never seen them.

So is it good or bad? If you ask those who have to get up early morning everyday and drive to work and spend several hours of their valuable time driving in heavy traffic and then return home after a stressful business day, you will see that they all love to work from home. Yes, it is really good because I was one of these people. I was used to spent about 3 to 4 hours per day to go to work and return home. It was terrible and I had no energy and patience for anything when I returned home.

I was already familiar with internet and I worked for a company as a web designers and network manager but I had never thought about working from home through the internet. One day I saw an ad in a newspaper talking about becoming an online salesman, selling goods and earning commissions. It attracted me. I called them and signed up for their course. It was just a 10 hours course talking about e-commerce and specially SFI. They referred me to SFI and then my uplines thought me how to work online and make money. I learnt everything about internet marketing and could refer more than 25,000 people to SFI in less than two years. It was fantastic and my achievements amazed many of the other internet marketers.

But it was not that easy at the beginning. It is exactly like travelling to a city that you have never seen before. Even people of this city talk in a different language and you can’t talk to them and ask them any questions you want. It will be so hard to find out where to go and what to do. Most people give up and although they believe that the city is so beautiful and lovely, but as they can not talk to anybody and find a friend or someone who guides them, they prefer to leave the city.

Yes, most people who try to work online, just give up at the first a few months or weeks of trying and only a limited number of hard-working and serious people insist, struggle and win. The first 8 months of my online business was terrible. I wasted a lot of money and didn’t make even one single cent. I am sure 99% of people would forget about it if they were in my shoes. My wife was not happy because she saw that I spent a lot of money, sitting at computer for several hours after I returned home from my full time job, without making any success, but I always repeated this sentence in my mind: “If the others can, I can too”.

I saw this sentence on SFI website that “If it is to be, it is up to me”. It really influenced and encouraged me to work harder and harder. It made me so happy when I earned my first commission. It was as low as $5 but when I saw the money in my account, I realized that I was not wrong, it really works and I am able to do it. When I learnt what to do, I made $30 at the first month. It became as high as $2,000 per month after just a few months and became over $23,000 per month after one year.

Tasos Vasilopoulos, from Greece, was the person who I learnt many things from him. He was one of my SFI uplines. In fact, he gave me the success key, and of course he made lots of money through my activities in his team.

So if you ask me that “is working from home good or bad?” I will say they are really good and they can change your life. This is what they have done for me, and so I recommend it to you. I don’t know about the others but I encourage people to do what I have experienced and am happy with it.

How to Manage Multiple Home Offices in One House

Here’s the quandary: Two (or more) home offices reside under the same roof, sharing precious space, resources, coffee and other work elements.

If you’re in this round-shouldered predicament, take a deep breath (if there’s enough air to go around). Then, check out how some people solved these six common snafus:

Problem: Many computers, all needing ongoing Internet access. While each computer could always have its own connection, that type of luxury can prove exceedingly pricey.

Solution: Computer networking. Public relations executive Margie Fisher and her husband, David, a schoolteacher working toward his doctorate, solved this dilemma in their Boca Raton, Fla., home offices. Internet access was a constant need, although availability was not. “I’m on the Internet all the time and, since my husband couldn’t get on sometimes, it was really hindering his research. We installed a wireless network router so all our computers could be on at the same time. It really worked out great.” Another option: Limit the connection to one machine and schedule each person’s access. (For do-it-yourself tips for creating a PC network, see this article.)

Problem: “Mine!” “No, mine!” One of the advantages of multi-office homes is shared expenses for necessary printers, scanners and other gear. The downside is not merely who has priority in using the equipment, but where it should be located. This is particularly troublesome in large homes with gobs of space separating the offices.

Solution: He (she) who pays, plays. Edna Kaplan, president of a health-care public relations company, and physician husband Donald of Marblehead, Mass., had all the space they needed for two offices. Too much, in fact. Her upstairs office and his in the basement raised the ticklish question of just where the scanner and other equipment should go. No biggie, they figured — if you pulled out the checkbook, you make the call. Guess who sprang for the copying machine: “We figured whoever paid for it gets to keep it close,” Edna says, then adds with a laugh, “My husband uses the copier a lot; he gets a lot of exercise walking up and down two flights of stairs.” The same dynamic also seems sensible for priority of use: Try to compromise as much as possible but, if you really lock horns, let the person who footed the bill have dibs.

Problem: He said, she said. A particular annoyance in relatively small spaces is two phone conversations going on at once. It’s not merely distracting, but also potentially unprofessional-sounding to those on the other end of the line.

Solution: Move it! Any shared home-office space is careening towards the edge of a cliff if there isn’t at least one transportable phone. In particular, one should leave the room if both of you are likely to be on the line for a while. That happens a lot in the Littleton, Colo., home of Lisa and Brett Cutler. “The biggest challenge is when we’re both making calls,” Lisa says. “I’m a consultant and he’s a salesman, so we’re pitching a lot. When it happens, he just makes sure to move into the dining room.” Another alternative is to make sure different lines are installed in far removed rooms. That lets you set up shop in a particular place and eliminate the need to roam.

Problem: Seeing each other too much. For some, this may be the most potentially unnerving element of the two-office home — knowing every single thing that happens to the other person minute by minute. It’s seemingly a one-way ticket to a conversational no-man’s land.

Solution: Stay away. This strategy and the extent that it’s useful depends a lot on the people involved. But many folks who maintain multiple home offices make it a practice to keep to themselves during the day. That can be a snap if your work regimens differ considerably. Notes public relations consultant Robyn Frankel of Clayton, Mo., “My husband and I rarely see each other during the day. At the end, we meet in the kitchen and our conversation begins like any other couple: ‘How was your day?’ ”

Problem: Can’t see each other enough. In disparate office space, it can be hard to coordinate those activities you need to coordinate.

Solution: Use whatever technology is necessary to communicate (one work-at-home couple opts for an old baby monitor to chat). For Brendan Tobin, whose wife works as his office manager, that meant a specialized phone line in their Tinton Falls, N.J., home. “Since we can’t see or hear each other, we had to add a phone that shows which line is in use.”

Problem: Murphy’s Law of Meetings. This is a nightmare for businesses that require client contact — two meetings, but only one suitable meeting space in the home.

Solution: Take it outside. Since adding space isn’t always financially practical, try to schedule meetings away from home as much as possible. As Frankel says, “The reason we’ve been able to work from home is that our businesses are geared to meeting with clients at their offices.” That means having a workable laptop and other gear to make your out-of-office persona as professional as possible. An alternative is detailed scheduling — for instance, one person gets the in-house meeting space one week, the other the next.

The Other Side of Working at Home: It Is Not Always As Pleasant As You Think

For many who make it their workplace, a home office is a tonic, both professionally and personally — a boon to career and personal satisfaction alike.

But for many others, it turns out to be just the opposite. Working from a home office can be lonely, isolating and unproductive for those who need a boss nearby. Without the formality of a workplace, some people can’t deal with daily interruptions of telemarketers, children’s CD players or barking dogs. Others are done in by the temptation of daytime TV, a well-stocked fridge or bottles of wine in the cupboard.

What if you find that working from home is a downright danger to your work and your emotional and physical well-being?

Here are five issues to keep in mind in determining whether your home office may, in fact, be more poison than panacea.

Working at Home ProblemsRecognize that it’s not for everyone. Many who abandon corporate life for working from home are almost delirious in their view of a home office — a Xanadu filled with unbroken happiness and effortless productivity. Sad to say, many discover it’s anything but a Xanadu, particularly people whose decision to work from home or telecommute was made by someone else. “These days, a lot of people are being forced by their companies to work from home as consultants,” says Richard Laermer, co-author of the book “Full Frontal PR: Getting People Talking about You, Your Business, or Your Product.” “Those are people who never dreamed of working from home and, all of a sudden, they don’t have the structure that they’ve always had.”

Loneliness can make you more than lonely. It’s no shocker that one of the most potentially devastating problems of a home office is the isolation that all too easily can slither into deep loneliness. But that can bring on more than aching depression. All too surreptitiously, you may find yourself in a circling pattern of indecision and lack of productivity. “It’s really easy to find yourself in a vacuum where nothing gets done. That’s because you may not have someone coming up and telling you, ‘That job is done, move on to something else,’ ” Laermer says. “You stick to something so long you never know when it’s done. And you can find yourself working yourself right out of business.”

When time becomes meaningless. Again, here’s where fantasy does more harm than good. Many home-office workers have this image of getting completely absorbed by a project — Edison in the lab for days on end in search of the right filament! — so much so that we lose all track of time. This is fine on occasion, but a warning sign if it’s an ongoing pattern. “You don’t want to be working 12 hours straight all the time without a break — that’s unhealthy,” Laermer says. “You also don’t want to be stopping work at midnight every night.”

When eating and drinking become too easy. It’s no pearl of insight to suggest that drug and alcohol use are bona fide red flags. If you need a Heineken or two or a blunt to help make it through the workday, find someone quickly to talk to. But, while perhaps further down on the destructive scale, be aware of turning to food excessively — for comfort or just for something to do. “It’s not as easy to snack and snack at an office,” Laermer says. “But, when the kitchen cupboard is only a few feet away, why not? And, who’s going to say something when you grab the third doughnut?”

When work is all there is. Granted, it’s wonderful to embrace your work, both for the financial rewards and the personal satisfaction. But make sure there’s more to your days than time on the phone or in front of the PC — that hints at a level of immersion that may run too deep. “Be careful if you find out over time that work is the only thing you have,” Laermer says.

If any of these ring true for you, it might be time to find a job in a traditional workplace setting. At the very least, consider these countermeasures:

Schedule, schedule. Plan your workday as exhaustively as you would if you were back in the high-rise. That makes the most efficient use of your time so that you don’t become inadvertently locked into any one task.

Schedule fun. That includes recreation. Make your appointment to work out at the gym as sacrosanct as the business lunch that seals the biggest deal of your life. Set time aside to leave your home and stick to the commitment.

Have someone look over your shoulder on occasion. Work at home freedom is sweet, but don’t forego supervision if you find you need it periodically. If, for instance, you’re at work on a job, ask a friend, colleague or family member to have a quick look at it — you may have more to do but they may also tell you that it’s time to move on. That can prevent the endless spiral of needless repetition and review.

Move around. If you work and play in the same environs, you can slowly feel your feet growing roots. You may work from home, but that doesn’t preclude separating the various elements of your life. Make sure your office is away from where you watch TV or read. If you live in an apartment or condominium, at least pick up your laptop and carry it into a distant corner. However you do it, make it clear through movement that you’re actually going to a workspace other than where you happen to be at the moment.

Home Office Machines and Equipments that You Need

The right tools always make any job easier. I’ve found that this is especially true when it comes to equipping your work at home office.

You can start your company in a home office with some used furnitures, a computer or a laptop, a scanner, printer, fax and copier which all can be found in one machine. At the beginning, you don’t have to spend too much money on your office. A home office can even be started with a laptop and a kitchen table. So first look at your budget. You will always have time to buy good office appliances. You can do it after you started making reasonable money.

However, here is some tips if you want to start with buying some home office machines and equipments.

Let’s start with your computers:

Unless you’re a professional game tester, audiophile or digital photographer, you probably don’t need the fastest, latest and greatest whiz-bang PC or Mac. Yes, I hear you saying, “But I could use the tax deduction afforded by an equipment purchase.”

Save your money. Every home business is cyclical. Purchase enough of a computer that gets the job done until the business gets off the ground. And even when it does, you probably still don’t really need (versus want) the best computer available. (As my Daddy always told me, “Keep at least six months of operating capital in the bank to weather a possible storm.”)

Once you have more than two computers in your office, it’s time for a network. Basically, you’ll want to connect everybody to everything. That will save time, and ultimately you’ll save money on equipment. All machines can share data, printers, scanners and whatever else you have in your office. I won’t go into the details of networking here — please see my earlier column.

Next, multifunction machines:

One way to save money on equipment is with a multi-function machine. These “four-in-one” machines typically include a printer, fax, scanner and copier. The whole device will run a few hundred dollars. Furthermore, it works pretty well.

If you go this route, get a laser printer, if possible. Lasers are faster than ink jets. Most of these machines have color capabilities. However, I have found that I rarely need color in the office.

Speaking of saving money, you should be able to set your printer’s default to “black only.” Then, when you need color, you can change it temporarily. Otherwise, you will accidentally print things like Web references in color. That slows the printing and adds cost.

You will need only one printer. Simply network it with your computers.

When you check out the multi-function machines, be sure the features meet your needs. You may find that the copier doesn’t have an automatic feed, for instance. Or the scanner lacks advanced features. If that’s the case, consider buying individual pieces of equipment. They will total more, but will be more flexible.

When to spend more to save more

On the other hand, you may want stand-alone equipment if it will be used heavily. Wear and tear is likely to be greater on a multi-function machine.

It is possible to use your computer as a fax (for more info, see this story). I use Symantec’s Winfax, although I think it has too many features, making it too complicated. Furthermore, if you have a paper document, you have to scan it into the computer before you can fax it. In all, I believe a regular fax machine is more convenient.

Copiers can be heavily used in an office setting. We are a long way from doing away with paper! Personal stand-alone copiers are more convenient than those included in multi-function devices. They may also last longer. If the copier is likely get a heavy-duty workout, consider biting the bullet and buying an industrial-strength machine. You’ll probably save money in the long run.

If you do buy a multi-function device or a personal copier, make sure that it has the features you need. Again, automatic feed will probably be important. Single feed will work, but it can be very tedious.

Avoid dial-up if possible

Most businesses need access to the Internet. Dial-up connections will work, but they are slow. Productivity is going to suffer if you and your employees are using 56 KBps modems. A 56K modem also will tie up a phone line.

Your calls will be important, so get an extra line for the modem. You can use voice mail to catch calls while you’re online, but your customers may not like that. There are other software solutions to alert you to calls, but none can substitute for having a person answer the phone.

If broadband is available in your area, I recommend it. DSL (digital subscriber line) and cable run at similar speeds in real life (for a comparison of the two, see this story). Satellite is more expensive and slower, but it beats 56K.

Satellite probably is available, if DSL and cable are not. It is especially useful in rural areas. You’ll need an unobstructed view of the southern sky.

When I moved into my current building, the interior lighting was fluorescent. I quickly found I didn’t like it, because it washed out the monitors. I replaced the fluorescent lights with halogens. They’re hotter, but they work well with computers. If you’re moving or building, be sure to check the lights.

Back up your data!

While you’re buying equipment, don’t forget your backups. You don’t want to lose your data, especially your client data and proposals! There are several ways to go.

Traditionally, tape drives have been used. These are fairly expensive, as are the tapes. Ideally, you would use a different tape each day, and store them off-site. Otherwise, if you had a fire, you could lose the backup along with your computers.

Some people use Zip drives, which are made by Iomega. They also have removable media, which can be kept off-premises. But they are relatively small. If you have a ton of data to back up, a Zip may not be satisfactory.

Consider using an external hard drive or making a CD for backups. Both are relatively inexpensive and fast.

I found the biggest challenge of having a home or small office is the sense of bigness that clients respect. Many years ago, I was on the phone with a major potential client. Just as I was about to close the deal, the gardener fired up his air blower to clear the leaves right outside my open window.

The noise was overwhelming! When the client asked what was going on, I didn’t lie. I explained that I couldn’t afford an office, yet. He said, “I’ve been there. Let me help. Send over the contract and let’s do this deal.”

Home-Office Workers: Show Your Professionalism

“I’m a professional.”

For many people working from a home office, able to wear pajamas past noon and be scrutinized more closely by the family dog than any supervisor, these three words can often seem a stretch.

At least the appearance of professionalism is demanded in the corporate world; in the home environment, it is something individuals must work harder at to attain. Yet the importance that home-office workers place on professionalism colors not only their quality of work but also their attitudes and how they come off to clients and associates.

And ignoring professionalism in your marketing strategies, communication practices and general business protocol and etiquette is a big mistake.

I work from a home office. To me, if you want your work at home business to succeed, it’s critical that you know what professionalism means and how it manifests itself in your work. Happily, professionalism has a compact definition: everything. Put another way, anything that has even a passing effect on your business is an element of professionalism — ingredients you need to observe and evaluate constantly.

“Professionalism is everything we do on behalf of a business,” says Dr. Pam Brown, an associate professor at Texas A&M University and an authority on home-business startups. “Unfortunately, a lot of people who work from home tend to forget about professionalism and merely focus on the technicalities of running a business.”

How to exhibit professionalism

One of the most effective ways to imbue a home business with a consistent sense of professionalism is in the planning stage.

Examine your business plan through the filter of professionalism. If, for instance, your marketing plan seems haphazard (all you see are customers rather than, say, customers aged 35 and up), bring it into tighter focus. Once that plan comes into play, it’s likely going to be more effective and, in the process, will reflect greater professionalism on your part.

Other, more-specific elements play into a professional persona. Start with your prices and fee structure. Granted, we all want to be as competitive as possible, but you should never under-price what you’re selling. That hints at insecurity about the true value of what you do.

“Don’t ever be afraid to price yourself fairly,” Brown says. “We all tend to undersell ourselves, but don’t give your services away. Charge what you’re worth and be worth what you charge.”

Consider, too, the structural element of your business. While most home-based businesses are sole proprietorships, Brown and other authorities say research has shown that incorporating can inject a greater sense of professionalism. That’s not hard to grasp. Not only does incorporation create a separate, legal entity for which you are responsible, but the record-keeping requirements unto themselves mandate an operation that’s not stuffing receipts and pay stubs into an empty coffee can.

(For tips on incorporation, see this special report. For a potential drawback to incorporating a home-based business, see this article.)

Start with how you answer the phone

Even though it’s easy to overlook among the ebb and flow of a business day, watch your work habits with an eye on the professional image you convey. Start with how you answer the phone: Make it crisp and polite, and leave out the “howdy dos.” (Brown tells of a young woman who always answered the phone with “Speak to me.”) If your family members might pick up the line, train them accordingly.

“Since the phone is a major link to the outside world, how you answer it is crucial to professionalism. If you have young kids around, make sure an answering machine’s on,” Brown says. (For more on home-office phone gaffes, see this recent column on the subject.)

Thankfully, the coming era of video communication has yet to unmask those of us for which a home office means the relaxation of a corporate dress code. But how you dress when you are working can still play a central role in your professional manner. Again, research on the matter suggests that home workers who spend their days in a faded T-shirt or a ragged sweatsuit may convey a laxity that may or may not even be there.

“Appearance, whether seen or unseen, really affects performance. Don’t spend the whole day in your bathrobe. You’ve always got to put your best foot forward,” Brown says.

However autonomous a home business can be, bringing others into your business fold also can bolster your professionalism. Hook up and nurture relationships with an attorney, accountant and banker — not only do they offer services intrinsic to the workings of your operation, let them know they should be comfortable about pointing out aspects of your business that could benefit from a shot of professionalism.

How to add sheen to the polish

Even seemingly small items can, taken in concert, add an extra sheen to the polish of professionalism:

Advertise in phone-book and online directories. There’s a professional image right there. (For a premium listing in bCentral’s online Business Listings, see this page.)

Use a delivery service. Ditto.

Have a professional-looking business Web site, with a domain name and e-mail address that includes your business’s name. (For info on bCentral’s Web hosting and e-mail product, see this page.)

Manage your time. Set working hours as an employer would do for you.

Invest in the right equipment. An outdated computer can drag your productivity down. That can dent your professional image.

Lastly, don’t lose sight of the unfortunate reality that home-based businesses, as I said, often have to go to greater lengths to establish and justify their professionalism. So, load up and keep at it. As Brown wryly notes: “As everyone knows, since you’re working from home, you’re not really working.”

How to Have a Safe and Secure Home Office

Imagine that an inspection officer from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration suddenly appears at your door and asks to give your home office the once-over.

Nothing official, mind you — after all, you don’t have to comply with federal safety guidelines — just a quick peek for fun.

Some fun

A few minutes later, see yourself standing over the prone inspector, madly flapping a magazine to give some much-needed air to the ill-fated fed who’s unconscious from the shock of what he just saw.

That may be a stretch, but it’s pretty safe to say that safety is rather low on a home-office priority list. Still, no matter if you work at home full time or simply have an office for weekend or evening work, safety should be an ongoing concern. It’s up to you, and only you, to make sure things are as safe as they possibly can be.

“I would bet most OSHA inspectors would be floored by the lack of safety in most home offices,” says Jeff Zbar, author of “Safe @ Home: Seven Keys to Home Office Security.” “In the corporate culture, you’ve got a safety officer watching to make sure that things are safe. But, home offices don’t have a safety officer patrolling the grounds.”

To help you set up and maintain your work space better, here’s a checklist of issues to ensure that your home office is as safe as possible:

Herd your clutter

Secure Home OfficePerhaps the most common safety snafus in home offices involve clutter, be it from newspapers strewn on the floor or books that slowly rise to a shaky pile on your desk. Whether on a daily or weekly basis, straighten up your office to limit both the physical risks of clutter as well as the effect on your productivity. Pay particular attention to traffic areas. “I have a stack of newspapers on a tile floor, and tile floors don’t have a lot of traction to begin with,” Zbar admits. “How would you feel if a kid charged into your office, slipped on the floor and you had to take her to the emergency room? And clutter isn’t just dangerous: Think of how much time you’ve wasted trying to sift through all the garbage trying to find something you needed.”

Zap electrical clutter

Don’t blame Benjamin Franklin or Thomas Edison if every electrical outlet in your office resembles a Chia pet. Again, the risk is twofold: Not only do you take your chances by overloading a circuit with too many plugs and perhaps starting a fire, but a squid-like tangle of wires also has an uncanny knack of enticing even the most carefully placed feet. Don’t overload office circuits. Try to bundle and hide wires as much as possible to minimize physical risk. Yes, this may require installing some additional sockets. “It’s also aesthetically nice not to see a bunch of wires and cables throughout your office,” says Zbar.

Be prepared

Think about it: thousands of dollars of electrical equipment, enough paper to gag an Enron-sized shredder, but nothing nearby in case a fire breaks out. Don’t overlook the necessity of keeping a fire extinguisher in your home office and checking it periodically to make certain it’s fully charged. (In fact, you may be breaking the law if you don’t have one, since many cities and other local governments require adequate fire extinguisher protection in home offices.) Be sure to ask about the chemicals in your extinguisher, as some are better suited to putting out electrical fires than others.

Take safety outside

A completely safe home office supersedes its physical borders. Take a walk outside your home and see if you spot any safety hazards. If you have loose tiles leading up to your front steps, take a few minutes to solidify the footing so the Fed Ex guy never takes a dive. Can you see your home office from the outside? That can be tempting to burglars, so give some thought to moving things out of the line of sight or keeping the blinds partially closed. “Try to think like an OSHA officer, a corporate security officer and even, if need be, like a thief,” says Zbar.

A few additional safety tips:

If you drink coffee or tea, use a wide-based travel mug that’s less likely to spill. Go with the same sort of glass if you switch to water or soda in the afternoon.

If you eat or drink in your office, put things down near papers instead of electrical equipment. Papers are easier to replace than fried computer gear.

Never put anything above your computer or monitor. Even what seems to be the most solid shelf around has been known to topple, taking with it your computer (and, even worse, potentially some of your precious data).

If you have children, make it clear that they are only allowed in your office when you’re there. If need be, lock the office when you’re gone.

Dust regularly

Part of having a safe home office is breathing clean air.

Be a bit paranoid

That’s not to suggest that you have to conjure up wild fantasies of woe, but try to imagine most everything that could go wrong from a safety standpoint and build your home office accordingly. “Always think about the next step when it comes to the safety of your home office,” says Zbar. “Sit down and think of every way you might be vulnerable. Then, you can do something about it. That may seem kind of paranoid to some, but you won’t feel that way if you’re in the emergency room getting your elbow set.”

Your Checklist for Getting the Right Home Office Desks for Small Spaces

For many people, a desk is just a large, flat surface — nothing more than a landing patch for bobble head dolls, strewn Post-It notes and jars of Jolly Rancher.

For the businessperson, however, a desk is Command Central: the epicenter where research is conducted, decisions are made and strategies implemented.

And that makes the choice of a suitable desk a surprisingly important one for business leaders and entrepreneurs — not to mention a bit more involved than you might assume.

Here’s a checklist to help ensure that your desk is a central element of an efficient, functional home office which probably has a small space:

Home Office Desks for Small SpacesWhat’s it for?

This is a question with a surprising number of angles. Far too many of us spot a desk and buy it before considering its function. Be sure to think about how you’re really going to use it — is it just for paying bills and scribbling notes, or will you need more space and features to accommodate other tasks? Make sure your desk fits your needs rather than buying something and retrofitting everything later.

Quality or cost?

Might as well get this one out of the way early. You can always buy a relatively inexpensive, ready-to-assemble desk and hunker down behind it. But understand that a desk built of pressboard isn’t going to last nearly as long as one made of solid oak — nor, for that matter, look as attractive (a consideration to bear in mind if you deal face to face with clients or customers). “Pay attention to the overall décor of your office, particularly if clients are coming there,” Kanarek says. “For instance, do you want a desk that’s open in the front? If that faces out to your office door, it may not look all that attractive.”

But don’t overbuy.

Thoughtlessly dropping a cache of cash on a behemoth desk is just as big a snafu as spending too little. Not only is too much desk a waste of money that could be earmarked for something else, a monster in a relatively modest office is as out of place as an NFL linebacker in Munchkinland. “Lots of people go out and buy this huge desk and find they can’t even fit it through their office door,” Kanarek says. “Measure the desk to see how it will look in your office.”

Specific features

With those global issues in mind, pay attention to particular elements that go into choosing the best desk possible:

Drawer space

Give some thought to how you use drawer storage and, in turn, how much you truly need. Kanarek suggests that every desk have at least one reasonably sized drawer for office supplies. But, think about how you work and the line of demarcation between adequate storage and pointless hoarding. “If you’re a pack rat, go for as few drawers as possible, so you don’t hold onto things unnecessarily,” she says. “But you also need to focus; so make sure you have enough drawers so your desktop doesn’t attract too much clutter. Don’t set yourself up to be distracted.”

Computer space

Here, a simple rule of thumb applies: If you have a computer on your desk, make certain you buy a desk designed for a computer. A $5,000 mahogany desk may be pure office eye candy, but things go sour when it seems you’re a quarter-mile from your screen. If you’d rather not have your computer sitting on the floor, find a desk with CPU space — or invest in a small trolley that sits beneath your desk.

Keyboard space

A good and suitable desk for a computer work should have enough space for the keyboard. This helps you move your keyboard to a proper position for more convenience.

One essential element of a desk that’s truly built for computer work is an articulated keyboard space. This lets you adjust the position of your keyboard for both convenience and comfort. Give this issue more than passing consideration — a desk with no articulation features or one that’s simply a bad fit can lead to ergonomic problems down the road.

Security

Another oft overlooked element to a truly functional desk is the capacity to keep certain things safe, be they papers, financial records, disks or other sorts of sensitive material. If you have for-your-eyes-only items — or, by chance, want to make sure visiting children don’t march off with important documents or even office supplies — find a desk with at least one locking component.

Siddown!

One final element to effective desk selection is a simple matter of application — that is, applying your derriere to the chair behind the desk that’s caught your eye. If you’re a big person wedged behind the desk the size of an Etch-A-Sketch, it won’t be long before your knees tell you to keep shopping. Likewise for a more diminutive entrepreneur who might have to crawl across the desktop to reach the Rolodex in the far corner. Short of being asked by store security to vacate, give yourself enough time behind a desk to gain a sense of how it feels. Moreover, bear in mind that your decision, like any other element having to do with your office, is central to the success of your business.

“Look at a desk as an investment,” Kanarek says. “It’s a critical one, particularly when you think of how much time you’re going to be spending there once you buy it.”

Are Small Office Home Office (SOHO) Businesses Affected by Down Economy

“Smack!” “Thank you sir! May I have another?”

“Smack!”

Thank you sir! May I have another?

That rather masochistic exercise from the fraternity initiation in the “Animal House” movie actually paints a fair illustration of the small office/home office (SOHO) universe in a down economy. Even when hammered relentlessly by an unforgiving economy, SOHOs keep asking for more.

It’s a fascinating picture of American resilience. Contracts have dwindled, pay rates have skidded and enough pink slips have floated onto employee desks to more than cover the New York Yankees after winning another World Series (one estimate says an average of one employee is being laid off every 30 seconds in the United States).

But a staggering economy seems to have no effect on SOHOs. Like the frat boy who keeps asking for more, the number of home-based businesses just keeps rising. According to IDC, a research firm that tracks a variety of business trends, the number of home office households increased to 34.3 million in 2002, about 500,000 more than in 2000 and will reach 67.9 million in 2012.

Here are five possible catalysts:

1. When the going gets tough . . .

Small Office Home OfficeA sputtering economy affords entrepreneurs the chance to react rather than merely taking it on the chin. Corporate employees can take getting downsized only so many times before thinking there’s another way to approach work. “Layoffs always expand the SOHO market,” notes Neal Zimmerman, author of “At Work At Home.” “If nothing else, people are sending out résumés from a home office. Some of those have no desire to work for anyone again, considering the lack of security. Now, they’re looking for independent opportunities.” Meanwhile, entrepreneurs can act rather than react to tough economic times. Faced with declining income, a self-employed entrepreneur can boost his or her marketing efforts, nurture new contacts and, ultimately, fight back. And that can mean more profits rather than just letting the door slap you on the derriere on your way out: “When times get tight, a SOHO business can always market more,” says Jeff Zbar of Goinsoho.com. “Product development, networking, marketing — there’s always something you can do when things start to slow down.”

2. What is growing benefits SOHO

Not every element of the economy is on the ropes. For instance, one of the fastest growing sectors centers on communication — making things faster, more efficient, less expensive and, ultimately, more autonomous. Those and other developments that have preceded it, such as the Internet, cell phones, fax machines and the like, all have contributed to making a home or small office less expensive and every bit as functional as its behemoth counterparts. “Small businesses now can become so much more prosperous because of innovations such as the Internet,” says Tom Egelhoff of Smalltownmarketing.com. “Even the most isolated businessperson can get products and services out into the real world and at a very low cost.”

3. Lower budgets mean more business

Faced with what some might call a recession, most of us likely have lost some work at home business. It’s a plain fact that some companies can no longer afford to farm out work. But that same dynamic also holds true further down the line — the bigger the business, the higher the cost, which makes smaller, less pricey companies more attractive to those who are still outsourcing. “Companies still need quality work done, but they’re looking for lower costs more than ever now,” says Egelhoff. “A home office can provide that quality of goods and services but at a lower cost than a bigger company.”

4. The lure is still there

For many, the promise of a lifelong corporate job has no allure whatsoever. “With the economy the way it is, I think a lot of people are paying attention to the upsides of working on your own that have always been there,” says James F. Smith, professor of finance at the University of North Carolina. “At least two of my neighbors work from home because they know nobody really cares what they’re dressed like.”

5. A long-term perspective

One final aspect is as much a benefit as it is a boost. Understandably enough, many downsized workers can only see a fast fix — find another job as soon as possible, even though it may not match the career track you have in mind. Again, prevailing conditions are tough, but an entrepreneur who has invested time and money in a business may be less prone to chucking the whole deal in favor of a paycheck. Realizing one’s long-term ambition often can see a professional dream through lean times and lends itself to a broader view of what we really want. “When you lift weights, all you’re doing is tearing down the muscle so it can rebuild itself stronger than before,” says Egelhoff. “That’s really what we’re going through now with this economy.”