A computer is typically your first important equipment consideration. Unless your needs are minimal, stay away from bargain PCs under $1,000 and consumer-oriented models. Most home offices require business PCs loaded with plenty of processing power and hard-drive space, plus the latest business productivity software.
Quantex, for instance, offers the QP6/400 SB-2 ($1,399 street; www.quantex.com). It comes with a 400 MHz Pentium II processor, 64MB RAM, an 8.4GB hard drive and Microsoft Office97 Small Business Edition--exactly what you'll need to efficiently run productivity programs and perform typical business tasks.
Keep current software versions installed on your PC as well. Not having the latest word processing, presentation, desktop publishing, calendaring and project management programs simply isn't professional, Bredin says. Other useful programs: data compression software, like PKZIP for Windows 95/98 ($39 street; www.pkware.com) for compressing and decompressing large files, as well as antivirus and invoicing programs.