SharpAlternatives to Corporate Work Life: Stocking Your SOHO Pad

Submitted by SharpMan Editorial Team on Friday 15th October 2010
In this article
  • Choosing the right equipment.
  • Protecting your investment.
  • Links to business product suppliers.

So you’ve taken the plunge: you’ve kissed the corporate world good-bye and jumped feet-first into building your very own SOHO (small office/home office). The hours are flexible, the boss is your biggest fan and production has never been higher.

Everything is going great.

The only problem? Your "competitors" are those very same corporations that you just said adios to. But remember, nearly every big company started with one small office or home office entrepreneur. As such, by focusing on properly outfitting your SOHO, you can produce high-quality, professional-grade work that looks as if it came from a corporate giant.

Checking out Computers

Many corporate drones put off upgrading their college desktop because they have computer access at the office. Why bother shelling out cash for something you get for free, right? Of course, once you kiss your human resources officer good-bye, you’re on your own. For this reason, a computer is often new entrepreneur’s first purchase.

How much of your dwindling savings should you allocate to this investment? The answer lies in your needs. Ask yourself the following:

  • What will you be using your computer for? Will it mainly be word processing, spreadsheets, accounting, desktop publishing, software development or video games? Simple document production requires far less juice than computer illustration. Swing by your local software retailer and determine how much memory is required. A full-time writer needs a much less powerful (and less expensive) machine than a computer illustrator.
    The "what for?" question will also help you determine whether you require a laptop or a desktop. If your new venture requires travel or client visits, or if you prefer to work in different rooms of your house or apartment, you may prefer a laptop computer to a desktop.
  • Will you be able to upgrade it? Once your business begins to really take off, you may require your computer to do more. More sophisticated programs, networking with an employee — make sure to inquire about how the model you choose can be expanded to suit your growing needs.
  • Do you buy online or go the brick-and-mortar route? Check out the after-the-sale service and warranties. Is your retailer of choice customer-friendly and easy to work with? Do they require you to ship your computer to them for repairs? Do they supply a loaner if yours is out of commission? Remember that without an "technical department" there are no company loaners, and every day your computer is out of commission is a day you won’t be able to work.

Picky for Printers

Printers are another "what for?" item. By taking a moment to consider who will view your print-outs, you’ll have a better idea of what type of printer you should purchase.

For example, if, as a new novelist, you intend to print out materials for personal proof-reading, an economical ink-jet printer may be all you need.

If you intend to produce computer-generated illustrations, the type of printer your work requires may be far beyond your budget. It may make more sense for you to purchase a laser printer for personal reviews and use the services of a print shop for client materials.

And the in-between SharpMan? For most entrepreneurs, the quality of the materials generated in the SOHO is their calling card to the world. The more professional-looking the proposal, the more credit will be given to the work they are able to generate.

Many new entrepreneurs believe that it is possible to quickly and cost-effectively generate high-quality printing materials by using a local copy store, but copy stores take more time and money than you think. If you intend to produce more than one proposal or similar product per month, consider skipping the freebie ink-jet printer and shelling out the extra cash for a SOHO-level laser printer. You’ll save time and piles of money.

In fact, many high-quality mid-range laser printers can fill a double-duty. For example, the Hewlett Packard LaserJet 3200m functions as a high-quality laser printer, a fax machine and a scanner (www.hp.com).

All-in-One Fax

Gone are the days when you had to have a separate fax, copy, scanner and telephone. Nowadays you can have them all in one unit. Moreover, if you compare the cost of purchasing each of the units separately, you’ll begin to understand why these products are so popular.

Two negatives to consider:

  • The quality of the copier is generally not as precise as a stand-alone copier. If the document is for your eyes only, no big deal. Proposal copies may require you to use a copy store or shell out some more for a "real" copier.
  • If one piece of the all-in-one malfunctions (e.g. the fax), you may find that you cannot use your copier, telephone or scanner.

Protecting your Equipment

It’s late one night, you’re sound asleep and a huge storm rolls through your town…one minute you’re a prosperous, new SOHO owner and the next your business is a lightening bolt’s newest victim. It’s true. Electrical surges can destroy perfect good equipment. To protect your investment, skip the wimpy power strip and invest in a high quality surge protector. Consider a unit that also allows you to plug in your phone and fax lines for maximum protection.

Alternatively, an Uninterrupted Power Source (UPS) gives you about five minutes to back up what you’re working on before the power goes out.

Of course, even with an UPS and a surge protector, the safest bet is to unplug and turn off your equipment and unplug your fax and telephone lines until a storm passes.

This article last updated on Friday 15th October 2010
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