Basic Tech and Equipment You Need for a Home-Based Business
By Pekin Insurance · Nov 12, 2019 ·4 min read
You know it won’t be easy, but it’s in your heart. You can’t take much more of the corporate life, so you decide to work for yourself. Before you start this exciting, new adventure, find the basic tech and equipment you need for your home-based business.
The Pros and Cons of Working for Yourself
Before you do anything else, you should know what you’re getting into.
You want to do things your way and set your own schedule.
You answer to yourself and your customers, whether you’re:
- Opening an online thrift store
- Offering freelance design services
- Setting up shop as a virtual assistant
- Starting a furniture business in your garage
There’s no one looking over your shoulder and telling you what to do.
You’ll have some up-front costs (more on that later), but working out of your home saves money in the long run. You won’t have to worry about leasing commercial space or commuting, though you might need to meet with some clients face-to-face.
Check out the IRS website to find tax deductions for your home-based business.
You work by yourself unless you hire employees. The lack of face-to-face interaction could lead to loneliness and feelings of isolation.
You need customers because you need money. It’s not always an easy process.
You might spend a lot of time:
- Setting up social media accounts
- Asking your family to spread the word about your business
- Making connections on LinkedIn and industry-specific sites
- Hitting up the local Chamber of Commerce
- Handing out business cards
Everything Is on You
You're the boss, but you’re also:
- The customer service hotline
- The custodian
- The accounting department
- The social media manager
- Every role you have and haven’t thought about
You should outsource some of this work if you feel overwhelmed. You don’t have to do everything by yourself.
Now that you know the advantages and disadvantages of running a home-based business, let’s cover everything you need to launch.
Technology Is the Queen, King, and Ruler of All
You probably don’t require all the “latest and greatest” tech unless you start an IT firm. At the same time, you don’t want to choose every bargain solution for your computer, software, and wi-fi.
Spending a little more money could help you avoid headaches and service hiccups.
Expert Picks for Best Business Computers
You might need a laptop, desktop computer, tablet, or a mixture of multiple devices. Here’s what the experts recommend.
Tech Radar’s list of best desktop computers:
- Dell OptiPlex 3050 Micro
- Microsoft Surface Studio
- Apple iMac Pro
- Lenovo ThinkCentre M900
- Apple iMac (27-inch, 2019)
- Dell OptiPlex 3030
- Apple Mac Mini
- HP ProDesk 400 G4 Tower
- Dell OptiPlex 3020
- HP Elite Slice for Meeting Rooms
LaptopMag’s top-rated business laptops:
- Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (7th Gen)
- Apple MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2019)
- HP EliteBook x360 1030 G3
- Microsoft Surface Pro 7
- Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga
- Dell Latitude 7400 2-in-1
- Dell XPS 15 (2019)
- HP ZBook Studio x360 G5
- Dell Precision 7730
- HP Chromebook x2
- Dell Latitude 5420 Rugged
The Balance’s eight best tablets for business:
- 9-inch Apple iPad Pro
- Samsung Galaxy Tab S3
- Lenovo ThinkPad X1
- Microsoft Surface Pro with Type Cover
- HP Elite X2 1012 G1
- Amazon Fire HD 10
- Apple iPad Mini
- Samsung Galaxy Tab A
Apps and Software to Put You on the Right Path
Get the apps and software you need to send emails, create invoices, and work with spreadsheets.
Microsoft offers a small business version of Office 365 that includes:
- Word (document creation)
- Excel (spreadsheets)
- PowerPoint (presentations)
- Outlook (email)
- Teams and SharePoint (teamwork and communication)
- OneDrive (file storage)
If Office 365 isn’t your thing, Google offers similar products and services with G Suite.
What about your budget, accounts receivable, and other expenses?
Some of PC Mag’s best-reviewed accounting software includes:
- Intuit QuickBooks Online
- Zoho Books
- Wave Accounting
PC Mag comes to the rescue again with a list of project management software that could be a perfect fit for your business:
- Zoho Projects
- Teamwork Projects
What about all the documents you work with? Adobe has you covered!
Adobe InDesign lets you create:
- Business cards
- And more
Adobe Acrobat is great for creating PDFs, managing invoices, and file sharing.
Reinforce Your Internet Security
A Wi-Fi router needs updates for its firmware, login, and password.
This in-depth lifehacker guide provides router safety recommendations for:
- Securing your network with WPA2
- Turning off WPS
- Using MAC filtering
- Scheduling Wi-Fi
- Disabling questionable services
Consult an IT professional or tech-savvy family member if you’re not comfortable making these changes by yourself.
Also think about using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) before you do any business. If you’ve never heard of a VPN, it connects you to a private server and encrypts your connection.
This means you have extra protection against hackers who could cost you a lot. According to Bank of America’s Small Business Payments Spotlight, you could pay up to $50,000 to recover from a data breach while losing one-third (or more) of your customers.
Don’t Use Your Personal Number for Business
You work for yourself because you crave flexibility and freedom. Will you really have those things if you can’t separate business from your personal life?
Do you need another phone, then? That’s one option, but it might not offer the most convenience.
A virtual phone number could do the trick. It isn’t tied to a specific phone or phone line, so you can have calls go to mobile devices, laptops, and desktops.
You could also set up a landline for your business calls.
Don’t Overlook Traditional Office Equipment
Technology evolves so fast that “cutting edge” today is “old news” tomorrow. Don’t let the shiny, new tools make you forget about a traditional office setup with a desk, lamp, and chair.
Heck, you might even get crazy and put up a whiteboard somewhere!
When you mail products to customers (we’re looking at you, Etsy people), you need supplies like:
- Pens, pencils, and markers
- Layer pads
You should include invoices with the products you send, so invest wisely in a printer.
You might print copies for your own records, even if you have digital versions. Lock important items in file cabinets, and use a paper shredder to dispose of the documents when they become outdated.
Extra Protection for Your Home-Based Business
We wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t give a quick shout-out to insurance.
Your home-based business needs the right protection, which could include the following:
Commercial auto coverage for delivery vans, utility trucks, refrigerated vehicles, private passenger vehicles, and more.
Business property coverage for tools, inventory, computers, and working space.
Commercial general liability for injuries that happen on your property.
Workers Compensation to cover medical costs for employees' work-related accidents and illnesses.
Professional liability coverage for when a customer claims financial losses due to an alleged mistake or a service you didn’t perform.
Do you want expert advice on you home-based business protection? Your local Pekin Insurance agent will hook you up with all the knowledge and direction you need.