Home Office Organization 

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Organizing Your Home Office Tips 

Almost everyone who starts their own business does so with a goal of achieving success on multiple levels.  These levels of success include financial independence, personal satisfaction, and the control of personal time.  Since you are reading this book, you are getting ready to, or have, already joined the ranks of the work-at-home entrepreneurs.  This is one of the fastest growing industries for a couple of reasons.  The internet provides easy access to customers around the world.  In addition, worsening economic conditions leading to employment uncertainty has led many people to seek alternatives.  Of course, even before the internet there were plenty of work-at-home businesses, but their ability to expand into markets outside the local area were limited.

Unfortunately, many new at-home businesses will fail.  That is because you can have access to a larger number of customers, but you still have to run your operation like a true business and not a hobby or else customers will not be plentiful.  This means you need to be organized in order to handle the various tasks which are required.  One of the first things you need to do is make sure your home office is organized.  There are lots of ways to improve office efficiency and to make sure your office is set up as well as possible to meet your needs.

In the following sections, you will read about the use of space, keeping schedules and using technology to develop an efficient and productive business.


When you decide to work at home, and have established the kind of business you want to run, one of the first steps to success is creating work space dedicated to your business.  It does not matter whether you will be greeting customers in your home or only meeting cyber-customers.  Part of the process of maintaining professionalism is making sure you operate your business like a true business.

When you go to a traditional storefront office, you will notice there is floor inventory space, check out counters and a designated office.  You may be living in an apartment and thinking there is no way you will be able to handle such extensive space requirements.  But the main point here is not that you need a lot of space, but that you need to have designated space.  There is a big difference.

When you look at your business space from this perspective, you realize you need to set aside a specific area that is comfortable for work while handling your equipment, inventory and customer needs.  So you may have to re-arrange your furniture so a corner of your living room becomes your office.  Or you might even decide to convert a spare bedroom into an office.  Either way you have to have designated office space that has been maximized for efficient use on a day to day basis.

In order to determine how to best arrange your space, the first thing to do is make a list of what you need to be able to handle in this designated space. 

�    Do you need a desk large enough to handle a computer, monitor, keyboard, printer and writing space?

�    Do you need additional desk space for spreading out materials such as order or shipping paperwork?

�    Do you require a meeting table for meeting with customers?

�    Will there be a need for a file cabinet for organizing paperwork?

�    Will you have one or more employees requiring space?

�    Do you need work space for any kind of product assembling or for packing orders?

�    Do you need inventory storage space?

�    Are there any special equipment needs such as postage equipment or envelope sealers that will require space?

Once you have a good list of what kind of space and equipment you need it makes it much easier to begin arranging the area where you will work.  Since you know the type of furniture and equipment you will have, it is possible to then decide how much minimum space you need to set aside to accommodate it all.  From there you can begin purchasing the right sized furniture and equipment you don�t have on hand already.

One common mistake people make is trying to �make do� when it comes to space organization.  This does not refer to making your space work for you, because you only have a certain amount of space available. �Making do� refers to not taking the time to organize your space for maximum efficiency.  It also means not making available the right kind of equipment to get the job done efficiently.  In the end this will catch up with you when you lose orders because you tried to skimp on your filing space or refused to buy a filing cabinet.  As will be discussed later, you also will need filing space for your financial records.

When it gets down to actually setting up your space, you will need to measure your available space and then decide what kind of furniture and equipment will fit.  Don�t be upset if everything doesn�t fit at first, because there are always different ways to arrange an office to make the space work.  There is also a number of space-saving office furniture and storage units you can buy that will make your limited space look a lot more spacious.


When you are setting up your office, the goal is to make sure you have enough space to efficiently handle your operations.  But you still have to learn how to manage your time.  The most beautiful home office in the world is still not going to produce income if you don�t manage your time.  In a later section, there is a more thorough discussion about time management.  But the important point to remember is that your business is only going to be successful if you are able to keep your work and personal life separate.

You can think of it this way.  If you held a traditional job, you would only spend lunch time taking care of personal business.  If there are errands to run you would either do them before or after work.  You would not drop your work and start doing a load of laundry in the break room.  You don�t sit on the phone talking to friends and family. You don�t run to the hairdresser in mid-morning leaving work undone.

Your home business is your job whether you are doing it full or part time.  You have to set a schedule which insures you spend the right amount of time on your business without being distracted by the personal surroundings you have in a home.  You may be thinking, �Where does the freedom of being an entrepreneur begin if I have to follow a schedule?�

The freedom is in the options you have.  For example, when you are working in an office for a corporation, your supervisor determines your hours.  You are told when to be at work and when you can leave.  Even if you are an executive, there are expectations as to when you are supposed to be in the office.

When you own a home based business, you can set a schedule, but you can determine your hours.  For example, you may like to start work at 9 AM instead of 8 AM.  You may prefer to work evenings instead of mornings.  One of the main influences on when you need to work is the type of home based business you are operating.  If you are selling products that appeal to the stay-at-home moms, then you can work during the day.  If you are selling products or services to people who work in offices, you will probably have to work some evening hours in order to make contacts.

One of the reasons home businesses fail is because there is no time schedule set.  If you say you are going to work your business from 9AM until 5PM everyday, then you need to be at your home office desk working by 9AM. 

You also should set a schedule which accommodates the many tasks associated with operating a home business.  It is so easy to spend a lot of time on important functions such as bookkeeping, but while you are posting expenses, you are not selling.  So your schedule should address how much time you need to spend on contacting customers and how much time will be needed for office maintenance tasks.

As will be discussed more thoroughly under time management, the most important step you can take to be a better manager in your home business is to keep your business and personal office activities separate. 

By the way, it is highly recommended by the experts that you dress appropriately for work.  You do not have to wear a dress or a suit and tie, but on the other hand, you should not wear pajamas either.  It is much easier to treat a business professionally if you treat it like a real job.


We live in the computer age and that means you can use technology in a number of ways to build a successful business.  To put it bluntly, you have to live in a cave to not know about the internet.  But what many people do not understand is the variety of e-commerce tools that are available, affordable, easy to access, and productive.

Following is a short list of the various internet tools now available.  This list is presented to just to give you an idea of the different kinds of internet tools that can help you get customer leads on a regular basis through the development of your internet presence.

�    Email for correspondence and marketing
�    Website including counters for marketing analysis
�    Online ads and banners
�    Online catalogues
�    Online customer payments
�    Chat rooms and forums
�    E-newsletters

You can use the internet to communicate with your customers in a way never before possible for the small business.  Of course having access to the internet is only possible if you have a computer.  It is recommended you get a high speed internet connection, because today�s online graphics are complex and slow to download unless you have the right connection setup.

Other technology tools that have made it possible for the home business person to literally run a million dollar business out of a corner of a room in the house include the scanner, cell phone and laptops for making personal presentations.

Speaking of phones�.the newest technology allows you to run local, domestic and even international calls through the internet at a greatly reduced price compared to what you would pay for a regular phone service.  The Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) is quickly being embraced by small businesses that need to make expensive calls. 

Other equipment you can use in your office to make your business more efficient includes a printer, fax machine and copier.  Today you can buy combination units that perform all 3 functions.  You can attach document files in emails too and send quotes, orders, invoices, letters and whatever else you want over the internet. 

There are a number of software packages you can purchase that let you do many tasks on your computer.  You can buy letter writing software, inventory management programs, or publishing software which can create newsletters or marketing material to name just a few examples.

There is one other important piece of technology you need to maintain a successful home business.  You should purchase a bookkeeping or accounting software package which will enable you to organize your tax records and keep you informed as to the financial condition of your business. 

Keeping good financial records is crucial to any business and that includes the home based business.  In the next section we will talk about the importance of maintaining those financial records on a regular basis.


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