Setting Up Your First Home Office

The essentials of leaving your corporate job and setting up your own home based business

learn more about Rosalind Resnick

By Rosalind Resnick

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Transitioning from corporate office to home office is not as tough as you may think. While each homebased business has different needs, every home office must provide the same basic functionality:

  • A clean, well-lighted place for the owner to run the business free from noise and distractions
  • A place to sit down and work (desk, chair, lamp)
  • A place to store information about your customers (computer, filing cabinet, electronic organizer or database)
  • A way to communicate with your customers quickly and efficiently (phone, fax machine/software, Internet connection)

Since most homebased businesses are service businesses, not retailers, manufacturers or wholesalers, it's rarely necessary for a home office to be large enough to store inventory or component parts. And since most homebased business owners travel to their clients' offices for meetings, you probably won't need a conference room, a white board or a projector.

How much should you expect to pay to equip a home office? The good news is that the price of computers, fax machines and other office automation equipment has come down dramatically over the past 10 years. Prices for phone service vary from place to place, but new all-inclusive packages from providers like AT&T, MCI and Verizon provide unlimited local, regional and long-distance calls for less than $60 a month. Likewise, high-speed Internet access (broadband or DSL) is available for $50 to $100 per month. Here's a sample budget for setting up a home office from scratch:

  • Computer: For roughly $1,000, you can get an IBM-compatible computer with a Pentium 4 processor, 256MB of memory, a 60GB hard drive, a 17-inch monitor, a CD-ROM drive, a 56K modem and an Ethernet connection from Dell, Compaq, Gateway and other leading suppliers. To comparison shop for the best prices, check out CNet's or ZDNet Shopper .
  • Multifunction machine: For $250 to $500, you can buy a machine that acts as a fax machine, copier and printer. Most machines offer an automatic document feeder, a scanner and the ability to print out digital photos in color. Machines like these typically run at print speeds of up to 12 pages per minute (ppm) in black and white and 10 ppm in color.
  • Two-line cordless phone: Today's top-of-the-line cordless phones start at less than $200, offering home offices the same full-duplex clarity as a corporate boardroom with a microphone optimized for hands-free, one-to-one phone conversations. For example, the Polycom SoundPoint Pro Desktop Conference Phone lets you hold three-way audioconferences right from your desk, allowing callers to speak when they want without the clipped sentences and one-way conversations typical of most speakerphones.
  • Office furniture: Depending on how fancy you want to get, you can spend anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars to equip yourself with a desk, chair and file cabinet. Try Staples and IKEA for affordably priced furniture that won't fall apart. And don't be afraid to splurge on a comfortable chair! You're going to be spending a lot of time there, and the extra money you spend now will save you hours of back pain later.

Rosalind Resnick is the founder and CEO of Axxess Business Centers Inc. , a storefront consulting firm for start-ups and small businesses. She is a former business and computer journalist who built her Internet marketing company, NetCreations Inc. , from a two-person homebased start-up to a public company that generated $58 million in annual sales.

Rosalind Resnick

Rosalind Resnick is a New York-based freelance writer, entrepreneur, investor and author of The Vest Pocket Consultant's Secrets of Small Business Success.

Editor's Pick

Everyone Wants to Get Close to Their Favorite Artist. Here's the Technology Making It a Reality — But Better.
The Highest-Paid, Highest-Profile People in Every Field Know This Communication Strategy
After Early Rejection From Publishers, This Author Self-Published Her Book and Sold More Than 500,000 Copies. Here's How She Did It.
Having Trouble Speaking Up in Meetings? Try This Strategy.
He Names Brands for Amazon, Meta and Forever 21, and Says This Is the Big Blank Space in the Naming Game
Business News

These Are the Most and Least Affordable Places to Retire in The U.S.

The Northeast and West Coast are the least affordable, while areas in the Mountain State region tend to be ideal for retirees on a budget.

Business News

I Live on a Cruise Ship for Half of the Year. Look Inside My 336-Square-Foot Cabin with Wraparound Balcony.

I live on a cruise ship with my husband, who works on it, for six months out of the year. Life at "home" can be tight. Here's what it's really like living on a cruise ship.

Business Solutions

Master Coding for Less Than $2 a Course with This Jam-Packed Bundle

Make coding understandable with this beginner-friendly coding bundle, now just $19.99.


5 Ways to Build Grit in Times of Uncertainty While Growing Your Business Faster Than Others

Perseverance and grit are essential traits for any entrepreneur. By nurturing grit, you will become a better leader, grow your business faster and outperform your competitors.

Thought Leaders

The Collapse of Credit Suisse: A Cautionary Tale of Resistance to Hybrid Work

This cautionary tale serves as a reminder for business leaders to adapt to the changing world of work and prioritize their workforce's needs and preferences.

Business News

Mark Cuban's Grocery Store Hack Will Help You Score Cheaper Produce

The billionaire talked about his early days in Dallas when he was strapped for cash.