Supporting Contributor Post by Jenna
A place for everything and everything in its place. This is something that most of us heard when we were growing up—it’s a cliché Texas mothers use (well, probably all mothers) to emphasize the importance of a clean room. It’s also incredibly important in the world of business. If you want to run your own business, your business needs a space of its very own from which to operate.
It’s something that a lot of new and green entrepreneurs fight against. After all, part of the appeal of going into business for yourself was the idea of doing business on your laptop while you lounged in pajamas on the couch, right? Well you can still do that, but you’ll also need a space in which everything for your company is organized.
Plus—and you might not believe this now but trust us—once you get a specific space set up for your company, you’re going to prefer working in that space to working in your jammies on the couch. Yes, believe it or not, you’ll choose to work in your jammies at your desk…or you can split the difference and put a couch or comfortable chair in your home office.
Where to Start
The easiest way to set up office space for your new business is to take over a spare room or a garage. This way you will have a space with a closeable door that you can dedicate entirely to your business. These types of spaces are great because they can be claimed on your taxes and allow you to deduct portions of your mortgage payment and other utilities.
If you don’t have a spare room, a shed or a garage (or an attic or basement), you can convert other areas of your home in to office space. Some people choose to set their companies up in their dining rooms or breakfast nooks. Some use tall screens to “wall off” corners of living rooms or bedrooms. Others convert larger closets. You might have to get creative, but eventually you will figure something out.
Using Storage Spaces
Believe it or not, here in Texas, there have been some people who have rented a space for self storage in Houston and then converted that in to office space. The better thing to do is to use a storage unit to either
- Protect your personal belongings that you have had to relocate because you’ve converted space in your home into office space or
- Store inventory and supplies. We use our self storage in Houston for the extra inventory and office supplies that we need for our company but cannot store at home because of space reasons. This is a particularly handy option if your own home office exists behind a screen in your living room.
What Do You Actually Need?
When you run a home based business, you need to keep all of your professional “stuff” away from your personal “stuff.” This goes further than separating out your bank accounts. This means that you can’t store business tax records with personal returns. It even means, in some states (depending on how strict their tax laws are) that you cannot even share office supplies between your business and your home. Create a wall between everything having to do with your company and everything having to do with your home.
At the very least, furniture-wise, you are going to need to have a desk and a filing cabinet for your office. While, you can store files digitally now, there are some records that need to be kept and stored in hard copy forms. Receipts, tax files and returns, any payroll receipts, etc—these all need to be stored in hard copy form for a number of years. In most states, like here in Texas, you need to keep them on hand for at least seven years.
Your desk doesn’t need to be an actual desk. We made ours out of a folding table we bought at Target.
After furniture, you’re going to want to set up a dedicated phone line for your company. There are a couple of ways that you can do this. You can set one up through your existing telephone service provider. You’ll be a signed a special ring to help differentiate between when someone is calling your home and when someone is calling your company. The easier thing to do is set up a phone number through Skype. This way you can keep the billing separate. Further, you’ll be able to take your business phone with you through an app that you can store on your smart phone. This saves you from having to buy a cellular line and phone for business purposes.
That’s all you need to set up your company’s office space. Trust us—you and your family will be much happier once you get this space set up.
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