Create a Productive Home Office Before You Race to Success

Create a Productive Home Office Before You Race to Success
By: Cynthia Bull

home officeSetting up a productive and efficient home office is likely the next item of business most work-at-home entrepreneurs undertake after getting a business license for their particular niche. This decision to ‘work from home and be my own boss!’ comes with all the inherent responsibilities of a successful business and must be taken seriously.

And that means getting the basics of operation under control right away. Doing so will lessen the headaches you might encounter if your business starts out like the Kentucky Derby – at full speed with nostrils flaring and running headlong into the wind – but you aren’t fully prepared.

While some businesses are slow to start, others begin with a bang with clients clamoring for necessary and desired products and services. Being prepared to transact business and deliver the goods from the get-go can definitely mean the difference between success and failure in the long term. You can avoid getting behind the power curve by following some simple organizational steps before inviting potential customers to your home office where you’ll meet their wants, needs and desires.

To make sure you leave the paddock, arrive at the starting gate, and then become the pacesetter in your race to success, create a workspace with the essentials to do business. Compare these items below with your checklist.

General Basics:

  • A quiet space that encourages privacy with as few distractions as possible (this isn’t always possible, but aim for it anyway)
  • Comfortable furniture and good lighting (desk, chair, a rug or mat; natural sunlight and proper bulb wattage for lamps to do your job efficiently; and consider an office relaxation area for quick breaks when you need to stretch your body and rest your mind)
  • Scheduled hours of operation (you actually do business during these times)

Hardware/Software Basics:

  • Computer (desktop and/or laptop) with a quality modem to connect electronically with clients locally and globally, and sufficient backup, like a surge protector in case of power outages (get the best product for your business needs at the outset)
  • Printer (laser or inkjet), fax machine, scanner, or a combination of all three
  • CD burner and DVD writer (particularly useful for transferring large files, for your backup copies and extra copies for clients; audio files use large amounts of computer storage space, so it’s worth the investment to have a good CD/DVD supply on hand)
  • PDAs ( iPhone, BlackBerry, calculator, datebook, personal organizer) to maintain business while you're mobile
  • Software products specific to your niche and necessary to conduct business (invest wisely in programs that promote efficient use of your time and don’t stress your bank account)

While not basic to start your business, virtual assistants can be a great asset. Once you reach a point of expansion and overload, consider hiring virtual assistants to do time-consuming, more menial tasks, so that you can concentrate on developing your businesses. Good resources to find VAs are,, and In highly competitive markets, these virtual gems can save you time and money.

No home office basics would be complete without knowing what the IRS says about home office deductions. Here is their statement, IRS Tax Tip 2010-53 (, March 2010).

What You Need to Know about the Home Office Deduction

If you use a portion of your home for business purposes you may be able to take a home office deduction.

Generally, in order to claim a business deduction for your home, you must use part of your home exclusively and regularly:

  • As your principal place of business, or
  • As a place to meet or deal with patients, clients or customers in the normal course of your business, or
  • In any connection with your trade or business where the business portion of your home is a separate structure not attached to your home.

For certain storage use, rental use, or daycare-facility use, you are required to use the property regularly but not exclusively.

Generally, the amount you can deduct depends on the percentage of your home used for business. Your deduction for certain expenses will be limited if your gross income from your business is less than your total business expenses.

There are special rules for qualified daycare providers and for persons storing business inventory or product samples.

If you are self-employed, use Form 8829, Expenses for Business Use of Your Home to figure your home office deduction and report those deductions on line 30 of Form 1040 Schedule C, Profit or Loss From Business.

Different rules apply for claiming the home office deduction if you are an employee. For example, the regular and exclusive business use must be for the convenience of your employer.

For more information see IRS Publication 587, Business Use of Your Home, available at or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).


Cynthia Bull ( is an internationally published writer and editor who helps international authors, marketers and speakers add greater value to their products through her top-quality writing, editing and transcription services. She is the author of How To Be A Medical Transcriptionist and Winning At Work While Balancing Your Life, a contributing author of Walking with the Wise Entrepreneur (Mentors Publishing House), cited in Make BIG Profits on eBay (Entrepreneur Press), and Managing Editor of Mentors Magazine Think & Grow Rich Edition. Cynthia has created over 200 book products in the past two years for her clients and, as mentor, helps clients reach their goals through her products, experience and genuine caring. Cynthia writes this feature article exclusively for the Association of Artisan Businesses (, an organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of the artisan industry.