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Don't worry. You're not having a flashback to the last time you tipped a cab driver. We're just trying to call your penny-pinching attention to the cheapest home office money can buy.

This story appears in the February 2000 issue of

I know it's tempting to get the coolest technostuff: You know your equipment won't be obsolete for at least a month; you're sure your business won't have failed because of a few missing megabytes; and, perhaps most important, you get bragging rights: "I have a 750 MHz Athlon processor with a Voodoo 3000 graphics card." It's the computer equivalent of saying, "My dad can beat up your dad."

Yeah, cool equipment is tempting, but it's usually stupid. Overspending is a major reason new businesses go out of business. Unless you design Time magazine covers or crunch galaxies of data, your business will just as likely succeed with my tightwad's approach to outfitting your home office. Here's my cut-to-the-chase list of what the average homebased entrepreneur needs:

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