A home office can be enticing to outsiders. Set up the office to prevent or prepare for unforeseen circumstances.
- Take security seriously. If your office is in a dedicated room, install a deadbolt on the office door to protect expensive office equipment in case someone breaks into your home. If you have clients visiting, keep a can of Mace, a personal audible alarm or the handheld panic button for your alarm system nearby. Also buy a fire extinguisher for the office.
- Get P.O.'d. Your business card is usually no place for your home address. Costing about $25 every six months, a P.O. box is an ideal business address to put on literature. Since many shipping services won't deliver to P.O. boxes, consider using the address of a local pack-and-ship storefront or an executive suite for your stationery. Just remember that recent postal service regulations require the PMB (private mailbox) label be used to denote such services, potentially hindering your professional appearance.
- Make your space official. When writing your address or ordering a rubber stamp for putting your return address on letters and other correspondence, call Apt. B-104, for example, "Suite" or "No." B-104. Or add "Suite 100" to your home address. It appears more like a business than a residential address.
- Get alarmed. Protect your equipment and property with an alarm system, possibly with a handheld panic button and a keypad in the home office itself. Test it regularly, and change the batteries every three years-more frequently, if needed.
- Plant thorny bushes or thick hedges. Place them outside every window around the home, especially outside the home office. Spanish bayonets, cacti, bougainvillea and other prickly plants will impede access, and as they grow, they'll obscure the view from the outside.
- Dim the computer screen or lower the shades when you're out of the office-especially at night. A monitor glowing from a home office advertises that the home has a computer and hints at other expensive office hardware on the premises. Eliminate the enticement by hiding the equipment from view.
- Prepare the office for travel. When traveling for a few days or longer, back up important data files, and hide those diskettes somewhere safe. Then treat your home office just as you should the rest of your home. Turn on a few lights; put others on automatic timers. Lock all the windows and doors to the outside, and lock the door from the office to the house. Turn off the automatic garage door opener and set the alarm.
- Get covered. Homebased businesses need extra insurance coverage. Call your carrier and explain your setup. You might need a business rider to cover equipment related to the business and another to increase liability protection for customers, clients or vendors who visit your home office. The company and its vehicles should also be rated correctly to ensure the best rate and maximum savings.
The Confident Resume, (703) 802-6002
InteleWorks Inc., firstname.lastname@example.org
Jane Scheid Communications, (561) 533-7483
MediaMatters, (954) 915-9515, email@example.com
Secur Technologies Inc., (800) 899-2099
The Solmar Group Inc., 13615 S. Dixie Highway, #340, Miami, FL 33176