The ultimate list of must-haves for your home office
When starting an online business (really any business) there are some must-have items you need to get started. Keep in mind these are just some of the most important items you need to have the ultimate home office setup.
First, you need to have the internet
Check with internet service providers in your area to see what deals you can get. Look online and see what each is offering. Keep in mind that most offer 6-12 month deals so be sure to see what the price is after that.
If you already have the internet but are not satisfied then research who else is in your area. If you don’t want to deal with switching companies, take the deals you found and call your company.
Ask them if they can offer you any new deals. As a last resort, mention that you’re thinking about switching companies and see what they say. Once you have your internet situation set up, you’ll be good to go with the rest of these home office must-haves.
Having the right equipment makes your job easier.
You need to have a good working computer and phone to conduct business these days. I recommend Apple products because that’s what I know works for me. Yes, Apple products are more expensive but remember, you are making an upfront investment that will last over time. I will also recommend one PC I use for travel purposes.
As far as Apple computers go, get yourself a decent Mac (desktop or laptop).
If you need a PC recommendation I currently have a Chromebook for travel purposes. Please keep in mind that a Chromebook is like a glorified iPad. Meaning it is all web-based and while it looks like a normal laptop it is not a full functioning computer. You cannot download to the computer like you normally would on a Mac or PC.
Back it up: No, this is not a hip-hop song from the 90’s although I’m sure you can find plenty that matches this description.
It’s important to back up your computer regularly (daily, weekly, monthly). It just depends on how much you actually do and how much you change in between backups. The point is, just backup so in case anything happens to your computer you have something to refer back to.
Another reason I go with Apple (Mac’s) is that they have a program called “Time Machine” which automatically backs up your computer when you plug in your external hard drive.
I use an iPhone 7 Plus at the time of writing this. I’m a little more open to using whatever smartphone works for you although I think iPhone is easier to use. Just make sure whatever you choose has a good camera.
Accessories to note for smartphones:
A great iPhone charging cord that I love and use all the time is Native Union. They make long (10-ft cords) and they don’t break like the Apple charging cords do.
UE Boom is a fantastic portable speaker that hooks up via Bluetooth or AUX cord and has fantastic sound! Plug it in or take it with you (15 hours battery life) and it’s water resistant. Easily the best portable speaker you can have for both calls and entertainment.
Looking to protect your smartphone screen? You need Maxboost screen protectors. They are the best, most affordable, tempered glass that will save your screen
If you want to get creative with your photos then you need to get this Clip-on lens kit which pretty much fits any smartphone including my iPhone 7 Plus.
While office gear will range and most of what I cover here in this blog post can be considered office gear, I want to make sure you help protect yourself with a good paper shredder. I use this one from Amazon and it does exactly what I need it to. Even if you are mostly an online business, you are still going to get important papers that need to be shredded so it’s just nice to have on hand.
Another thing I have in the office, that I wasn’t really into before, is this essential oil humidifier. When I started having trouble sleeping it was highly recommended and now I use it in the office throughout the day to promote a positive workspace.
And what office space wouldn’t be complete without Post-Its? I love and use these big Post-its – be warned they don’t stick all that great to walls but they are nice to have. I also got this Giant Post-It Easel Pad which is amazing!!! Another thing that keeps me organized, besides my Google Calendar, is this awesome Simple Elephant planner. I don’t know what it is about this planner, but it really does the job for me.
- QuickBooks is a must! I tried to do the whole free accounting programs (there are various ones out there) which I thought worked, but as I grew my business I quickly found out they did not prepare me for the real business world. It took me about a solid month to transition everything over and to balance things out – mind you at the time I had pretty simple expenses. So just start off right and get QuickBooks.
- Google apps for business– known now as G-Suite – will allow you to have access to all your files wherever you are. There are so many benefits to having G-Suite but the biggest one is getting organized with your files and being able to easily share them.
- Fax machine app is just something worth noting because I know many still have fax machines (I know, this is weird to me – no offense if you still have one – just not my thing) especially when it comes to doctor offices. That was the last time I had to fax something. Now when someone asks if you can fax them you can whip out your phone and say “Sure! Where should I fax it?” Watch how impressed they are with your tech savvy skills.
- Evernote can be used on so many levels and offers both free and paid accounts. I have the $2.99 plan which is great and so far I have yet to worry about storage. I use Evernote to keep all my notes in one place. Create notebooks for main subjects like you would with your binders back in school and add whatever you want to a note – audio, photos and text.
You really only need a few key pieces to make it all work and come together. Here’s what you need to start taking great pictures and filming videos as well as live broadcasts.
- Clip-on Ring light is a portable, lightweight clip-on light that will give you just enough light to make your live broadcasts on Periscope or Facebook Live and even your photos pop more!
- Lapel Clip-on Mic is an affordable option when looking for a basic, on the go, microphone to record with.
- Ultimate selfie stick now this is a popular one and is about to change your life! This selfie stick is solid and comes with a Bluetooth remote that can be stored on the actual selfie stick. It comes with a mirror for taking those pictures using the back facing camera. And, here’s the best part, it is also a tripod. That’s right! Now you can set up the camera and take your own pictures. That’s what I used to take my latest headshots here on the website.
- Studio lighting kit is the first business purchase I made that really set things up for me. This is just a handy studio lighting kit that you can have for the house for getting nicely lit shots for photography or for live broadcasting.
- Mophie juice pack helps keep things powered up! Everything requires juice these days especially if you are live broadcasting throughout the day, your battery drains quickly. Grab this bad boy and stay charged up! Of course there are so many different ones out there from brands to charging. Mophie is a trusted brand, is sold at Apple Stores and is an affordable option to keep most powered up throughout the day.
- As for video (since they take up so much space) I use and recommend Vimeo – I have the paid Plus account and it is perfect for me. Vimeo is so much cleaner and easier to use than YouTube. You have more control over the video player (how it looks) and you can really control the privacy level. The best part is, you can download your videos whenever you need them – easily!
If you want to put the smartphone down and step up your photography/videography game check out the Canon Rebel. It’s a great camera that is very affordable as far as SLR cameras go.
Let’s face it, entrepreneurship is lonely and you need some form of entertainment to keep you going. That is why I wanted to include a few things I use to keep me going throughout the day:
- Skip the cable, cut the cord, and just get yourself Netflix. If you really want to save and are not into the latest and greatest shows then just get Amazon Prime.
- Amazon Prime serves multiple purposes including Amazon video which is similar to Netflix but in my opinion not as good, but then again, I’m not watching much TV. Prime also includes free 2-day shipping (some areas 1-day) and many other benefits — totally worth the membership.
- Apple Music is what I use to keep me moving and shaking throughout the day. Not only can you find great radio stations but you can get customized playlists and more.
Building a website
- Domain name is your online street address where people can find you (find your website). I use Name.com for all my domain name purchases now. They always have deals and are just easier to deal with then say GoDaddy. By the way, my link gives you $5 towards your purchase.
- Choosing a website provider – WordPress.org is currently your best option to go with as it allows you to really grow and do as little or as much as you like with your website.
- A web host is something you will need if you go with WordPress.org and it’s simply a place online that stores all your content – think of it as a digital closet. I only recommend the best and for web hosting the best is SiteGround. They are by far the best company I have used and their chat support is beyond amazing! Doesn’t matter your tech skills they will help you.
- Website theme is a fancy term that just means the template for your website. There are so many to choose from so let me make it simple or should I say “Stupid Easy®.” I use and only recommend (for those using WordPress.org) the Divi theme. It can do as little or as much as you like. It has amazing support with videos, a Facebook group, and actual support tickets. Not to mention Divi is constantly putting out helpful information and page templates on their blog. Looking for something else? Check out Elegant Themes.
- Not a “techie?” Get a website built for you in 24-hours here
Bonus: Business traveling
At some point, you are going to be traveling for business. When you do, you’ll want to make sure that you have the right gear to take with you. Of course, some of the gear above can move with you, but here are a few of my key travel gear:
- Traveling is all about having the right luggage which is why I love traveling with my Eddie Bauer duffel bag. Unlike all the carry-on suitcases I’ve tried, this duffle allows me more room so I can fit everything in one bag. You see, if you go with a duffel bag you do get more space because it’s flexible vs a hard suitcase. I know that might sound weird but it’s true.
- See more travel chargers for a thorough list of portable charging stations to suit all of your needs.
- Stay hydrated with Hydro Flask water bottle. This is an amazing bottle that keeps your liquids cold.
- Now, I am not one to iron my clothes but when you travel chances are you are going to have some serious wrinkles in your clothes which is why I love my portable steamer. It fits in my bag easily and it does the job with getting out the wrinkles in just a few minutes.
- Instead of carrying all my chargers (those little white, Apple squares) I just pack my power cord and this portable surge protector cord. It makes traveling and charging so much easier!
- When I travel and have to book a place to stay I always use Airbnb because they make it so easy to find a place and it saves me a lot of money. Every time I flew back to New York, I always found a cool place to stay and felt like a local.
- You probably already use them but Uber is how I get around when I’m in new cities or when it’s just easier than driving and trying to find parking. Uber just makes it so easy to find a ride and you meet some amazing people (I always like to talk to the drivers).
Share your home office setup (bonus points if you share a picture of your setup). You can find more tool recommendations by Ed Troxell here.