Category Archives: Career

Home Office Series: Starter Supplies for Your Home Office

Last week, I created a list of supplies that I will start with when establishing my home office.  The funny thing is, I haven’t yet chosen a place to live.  Thus, I don’t yet have a home office. 

Nevertheless, my location is not important for purposes of the starter list.  Here are some basic items that you will need to establish a home office, at least initially, even if you don’t yet have a place to put them. 

Phone

For obvious reasons, you will need a phone in your office if you will be dealing with clients or making other business related calls.  It is wise to have a business line separate from your home line so that you will have the ability to separate work life from home life.  In addition, you will be able to establish work hours. After hours it is nice to let your business calls go to voicemail.  Establishing a balance between work and personal/family time becomes more difficult when you move work into your home.  Thus, it is important to do all you can to separate the two, starting with your phone line. 

Computer/Laptop

I will be keeping the laptop given to me by my firm. It is a Lenovo Think Pad, an IBM computer.  My laptop provides me with basic functions for word processing, spreadsheets, power point and Internet browsing. 

Obviously your choice of a home computer will depend on the nature of your work.  Some computers are better for word processing-type functions, while others are good for graphic production.  Macintosh computers, for example, have a reputation for excellent graphic quality and utility. 

I have a Macbook Pro as my personal computer, which I use for things like blogging and all of my other personal functions.  I could write a whole post on choosing the right personal computer.  But, I won’t expand this discussion here.  You should do your own research to determine which is the right computer for your home office. 

Desk

Your desk choice will also be a very personal choice.  It will depend on the size and layout of your office.  There are many different shapes, sizes and colors of desks to choose from. 

Lamp/Lighting

Consider the light sources already in the room.  There is usually a central overhead light source as well as a window, which will provide light during the day.  Add additional lighting as necessary using lamps.  Also consider computer glare and the position of your desk or working space. 

Bookshelves/Bookcases

If you will have books and other references in your office, consider installing bookshelves or having one or more bookcases in your office. If you are working in a compact office, bookshelves installed on the wall are a space saver.  If your space is larger, or if you have a large supply of books, adding a bookcase will create more storage space.  Bookshelves and bookcases allow you to organize books and other reference materials.  For me, they avoid the inevitable piles of books on the floor and on the desk. 

You can also use bookends for small reference books.  In my current office, I have a very large L-shaped desk.  I use bookends to keep small reference books such as dictionaries and writing guides.

File Cabinet

File cabinets provide additional storage for important files and other documents.  While documents might also be kept on bookshelves or in bookcases, papers don’t stack uniformly, so papers on a bookshelf or bookcase can look quite messy.  In a file cabinet, papers are out of sight and can be organized more readily.  Some desks have drawers that can keep files.  This allows you to keep your files nearby.

Printer/Scanner/Fax

A combination printer/scanner/fax machine is probably the most practical and economic solution to have in a home-office.  First, having one machine will save space for a small home office.  Depending on your production levels and use of each feature, a combination printer/scanner/fax machine should be sufficient for your office. 

As of April 2009, CNET gave 4 our of 5 stars to the HP Photosmart Premium Fax All-In-One received.  According to its review, the HP Photosmart is “designed with the casual photographer and work-at-home professional in mind.”  Although CNET boasts on its high-quality prints, it notes that this product has a higher-than-average cost for black ink cartridges.  But, overall, it has a rating of ‘excellent.’ 

I plan to have an all-in-one printer/scanner/fax, but since my office will purchase this item for me, I don’t yet know which brand I will have.  Perhaps I will recommend for the HP Photosmart. 

 Computer Monitor

 I currently use a 13” computer monitor in conjunction with my laptop.  It creates an expanded view of my laptop and allows me to have two documents in view at one time.  I can also use it to view a document in one window while having an Internet browser window open in the other view.  It makes multitasking a lot easier when it is necessary. 

 In a small home office, or on a small office desk, using a laptop computer with a flat-panel LCD computer monitor will provide an expanded computer work area while saving space.     

 Other Items

 Other items that I will have initially in my home office include an external hard drive for storing and archiving electronic files, a large white board and markers for temporary diagrams and notes, and a large cork board to post important items in full view. 

 I will also have a broadband connection, a business fax line, a business phone line and a wireless card for remote Internet connection.   

 If you are transitioning to a home office within your present place of employment, work out with your employer prior to the transition, which items will be covered by your employer.  For me, my employer will cover such items as the computer monitor, external hard drive and printer, but they will not cover items such as the furniture.  At some later time, I will be looking into the extent to which I can make a tax deduction for the purchase of items used for my home office.  But, that is a discussion for another day.

 Which items would you start with when establishing a home office?

MAKE MONEY MONDAYS is a forum to discuss ways in which you can create additional sources of income. I try to focus on particular ideas and steps you can take to create alternative income and passive income sources. I have also begun a series of posts called “Rental Property Conversion.” This series follows my husband and I as we turn our property into a rental property. I will also research and post other useful information in this category. If you like what you see here, please use the orange icon at the top right to receive my content updates by email or RSS reader.

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Glimpse

For the past two weeks, I have faltered somewhat with posting. Two weeks ago, I didn’t publish a Lite Fare Fridays at all, last week, Lite Fare Fridays was posted on Saturday and this week, I didn’t post the Techy Tuesdays post that I had indicated in the schedule.

The only excuse I can provide is that my schedule has been pretty topsy turvy in the past couple of weeks and I don’t expect it to improve near term. Two weeks ago, I was in party-planning mode and this past week I was preparing to have a friend stay for the weekend. I’d like to say that I am back on track, but truthfully, I am not.

Over the next month or so, I will need to ask you to bear with me and slight changes to my schedule as I prepare to move myself and my office down to Gulfport, MS. I will do my best to provide information to my readers if my schedule changes, but sometimes it will be unforeseen. I want to assure you that if I fail to post on a day that is scheduled, I will pick up the schedule for that day on the following week. In other words, except for Tough Life Thursdays, posts for other days will not stop indefinitely. Thanks in advance for your patience.

Glimpse

Now, without further ado, here is a Glimpse from next week’s schedule:

Make Money Mondays: Home Office Series: For my transition, I have made a list of the things that I anticipate needing in my new home office. I will discuss these and other items that will be useful to supply in your home office.

Techy Tuesdays: Home Office Series: I continue the discussion about finding the right Internet service for your home office. I will discuss appropriate speeds and whether you should purchase separate Internet plans for your residence and your home office.

Wedded Bliss Wednesdays: TBD

Tough Life Thursdays: Discontinued Until Further Notice

LITE FARE FRIDAYS is anything thing that I feel like discussing on that day. I will try to keep it light just in time for the weekend! . If you like what you see here, please use the orange icon at the top right to receive updates by email or RSS reader.

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From Employer to Employee?

For the past couple of years, I have become very interested in following the stories of entrepreneurs and other people who create alternative income sources to make a living.  My own aspirations involve eventually starting my own ventures to produce alternative income streams to supplement my career income source. 

I began following others online that were moving in the same direction in which I wanted to be moving.  I first began following Madison Dupaix over at My Dollar Plan.  I found her at a time soon after I was married and very interested in straightening out my own financial situation for the benefit of my husband and I.  Her path into early retirement, as well as her adoption of alternative income sources, including entrepreneurship and real estate investment, has also been an inspiration to me. 

One of my most pointed discoveries has been Pat on The Smart Passive Income Blog.  He is one of my favorites because he is so frank and personal about the things that he is doing to create alternative income sources.  His discussions are straightforward and very educational because he speaks about the things that he is doing, his successes and what he has learned along the way. 

In addition to my online resources, there are a few entrepreneurial individuals in my life offline that have given me inspiration.  Each of these individuals started their own businesses and has had relative successes in creating self-sustaining livelihoods.  In recent times, however, I have discovered that two of these individuals are considering re-entering the workforce.

One individual is a close friend of mine that I met while in law school.  After working for others a few years out of school, he and a partner started a law firm. Now, several years later, he is thinking about leaving his venture and transitioning from employer to employee.  

The second individual is the husband of a friend. Many years ago, he started a wireless retail establishment that was successful for many years.  My friend, his wife, who I met and befriended through an industry event, managed one of his stores.  A few years ago, he sold his business and now, he is thinking of returning to the workforce as an employee.    

These kinds of entrepreneurial stories have always inspired me.  While I am not ready to give up my career to start my own business, I’ve always relied on these types of stories as guidance for my own ambitions.  These individuals would provide a resource and a lot of education when and if I ever decided to take the plunge. 

Upon learning that these individuals were contemplating returning to the workforce, however, I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed.  I have always envisioned successful entrepreneurship as the greatest freedom. Their stories have fueled my own grandeur aspirations that, even if a little naïve, would always cause me to aim a little higher than I could actually land. 

I questioned how one could return to working for someone else after having complete autonomy in your own business.

I have spoken with both of these individuals about their decision to consider returning to the workforce.  Based on these conversations, I have learned that despite running your own business for many years, there may still be the desire to be a part of something bigger.  Besides, even if one has been successful in selling his business at a rather young age, life goes on and eventually this individual will need to make an income again. 

I’ve also learned that owning and managing your own business can fall short of the utopia that I have imagined.  Many times, when working with a partner, you discover that you have very different philosophies about how to maintain and grow your business.  If you are not seeing eye to eye with your partner, it can shatter your imagined potential, which can be a momentum killer.  At some point, when the question of where will this business be in five years does not have a promising answer, the next option may very well be to preserve your professional worth and reenter the workforce. 

I also understand now in talking with these individuals considering the return to the workforce, that having run your own business and having managed staff in that business almost certainly makes you a much better employee because now you have the perspective of the employer.  Now, you know what it takes to run a business.  Now, you know what is required of staff to sustain a business.  And now, you know how to promote the interest of the business in everything you do. 

In all honesty, I still feel a little disappointment.  Something in me needs to believe that once you venture out on your own and make your own way that you will not desire or need to return to being dependent on an employer.  Once you have been completely autonomous in the decision-making process for a business, that you would not return to having someone else make those decisions.  My aspirations depend on this view.  You may call me naïve, or even a dreamer.  But, if I have a nice high place to launch from then I can be confident of higher landing. 

MAKE MONEY MONDAYS is a forum to discuss ways in which you can create additional sources of income.  I try to focus on particular ideas and steps you can take to create alternative income and passive income sources.  I have also begun a series of posts called “Rental Property Conversion.”  This series follows my husband and I as we turn our property into a rental property.  I will also research and post other useful information in this category. If you like what you see here, please use the orange icon at the top right to receive my content updates by email or RSS reader.   

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Glimpse

Here is a Glimpse from next week’s schedule:

Make Money Monday:  From Employer to Employee.  I will look at why some are choosing to reenter the workplace after years of entrepreneurship or pursuing alternative income sources.  I encountered individuals that have done this or are thinking of doing this and it comes as kind of a blow to my own psyche.

Techy Tuesday:  Home Office Series: I will continue the discussion on finding the right Internet service for your home office.  I will discuss appropriate speeds and whether you should purchase separate Internet plans for your residence and your home office. 

Wedded Bliss Wednesday: Handling Disagreements in a Long Distance Relationship.  When your spouse is not with you, disagreements can be very delicate.  There are ways to soften the blow and still communicate your feelings. 

Tough Life Thursday: Discontinued Until Further Notice

LITE FARE FRIDAYS is anything thing that I feel like discussing on that day.  I will try to keep it light just in time for the weekend! .  If you like what you see here, please use the orange icon at the top right to receive updates by email or RSS reader.  

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Filed under business, Career, Family, Home Office Series, Light Fare, marriage, Marriage and Military, Marriage and Relationships, relationships

Establishing a Home Office Series: Finding the Right High-Speed Internet for Your Home Office

In this post, I discuss the high-speed Internet services offered in my specific home-office location – Gulfport/Biloxi, Mississippi. – and the types of packages they offer.  But, in future posts to this series, I would like to keep this discussion open and plan to follow-up with considerations of whether to buy a residential or business Internet package – or both – and which speeds are appropriate for a home office.  The appropriate Internet speeds for your home office will depend on the purpose for which you will you use the Internet.  Stay tuned for these follow-up discussions. 

Over the next few weeks, I am preparing to transition from an office to a home office.  As part of my preparation, I have been thinking more and more about what I will have in my home office that will allow me to function with the same ease and efficiency that I have in my regular office now. 

One of the most important things for me to do is to find the right Internet service.  A typical day in my office now involves heavy use of the telephone, email, and Internet.  Once I transition to a home-office, my emails will most likely only be retrievable remotely via the Internet, as opposed to an internal network, the way I currently use email.  Therefore, it is imperative that I obtain the right Internet service for my home office.

An initial search of Internet service providers in the Gulfport/Biloxi, Mississippi area shows AT&T, Cable One, HughesNet (satellite Internet), and Wild Blue (satellite Internet).  Although Comcast offers service in Mississippi, it does not serve the Gulfport/Biloxi market. 

AT&T offers residential high-speed Internet with speeds up to 3.0 Mbps downstream and 384 Kbps upstream.

Cable One offers residential speeds of up to 3 Mbps downstream and 300 Kbps upstream. For business, Cable One offers a Small Office/Home Office package with much faster speeds of up to 8 Mbps downstream and up to 1 Mbps upstream. 

HughesNet offers home & office plans at speeds between 1 Mbps-3 Mbps downstream and between 128 Kbps-300 Kbps upstream. 

WildBlue has much slower speeds than HughesNet.  They offer speeds of between 512 Kbps-1.5 Mbps downstream and 138 Kbps-256 Kbps.

At first glance, it appears that Cable One will be the most promising provider as far as speed and packages appropriate for a home office.  They did not offer pricing online, however, so I will need to contact their offices to determine whether their service will be within budget for home office Internet service.

I will need to determine what is an appropriate speed for my home office.  I will use Internet for email, general online research, web-accessed seminars, and uploading large documents to our FTP site.  It may be that 1-3 Mbps downstream and 384 Kbps upstream will be sufficient.  

At any rate, once the appropriate Internet speed is determined for your home office, there may be other factors that make the Internet connection patchy or unreliable that can not be identified until the home office is in use.  Some of these issues may need to be dealt with on a per-occurrence basis are not always based on the particular Internet service.   

TECHY TUESDAYS is a forum to discuss various technologies and web applications.  I am currently hosting a series of posts called “Building a Blog.”  This series discusses all of the things that I am doing to build this website.  I will also discuss tips and suggestions for building your blog based on my own progress, as well as feed back from others.  If you like what you see here, please use the orange icon at the top right to receive updates by email or RSS reader.   

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From Commuting to Telecommuting

In a couple of months, I will be going from auto commuting to telecommuting.  Once I move to Mississippi, I will be doing my consulting job from a home office that I will need to set up to run independently of my firm’s home office in the Washington, DC area.  Establishing a remote work environment outside of our headquarters is a big step that will require a lot of preparation from both a professional and logistical standpoint.

The professional work that goes into transitioning from commuting to telecommuting is ongoing and includes relationship-building and strengthening, establishment and clarification of objectives and goals, and the demonstration of value and enhanced performance. 

I will discuss some of the logistical work that goes into transitioning to a home office at the time that I am setting up my home office.  I think the discussion on logistics should be captured at the time that I am implementing them.

The Professional Work  

During a recent summit at my firm, the subject of billable hours was raised and a discussion ensued about ways to attract more business, including upselling services existing clients. For me, this discussion is timely. Once I move to a home office, away from the main office, it will be more important than ever to maintain a continuous workload, while being less reliant on the home office resources.  

At the same time, there is still other work that I will do to preserve the existing relationship with my employer. If you will be transitioning to a home office at sometime in the future, I would recommend considering the following.   

Building and Strengthening Relationships

Prior to transitioning to a home office, it should be a priority to build and strengthen professional relationships, as well as relationships with clients.  You may already be doing this, but this will become even more important when you are no longer in the office. 

Consider the colleagues that you are currently working with on a routine basis.  Inform them of your impending transition and provide a plan of action.  How do you intend to communicate with them?  How often?  How will you utilize them and their areas of expertise to support yourself in business from your remote location? 

Will you need additional administrative support to assist with tasks that you will no longer be able to achieve because you are not in the office.  These tasks might include large print jobs, or research utilizing resources only available at your office.

 Inform support staff that you will rely on them for such items.  It is better to let them know before you leave.  Sometimes in large offices, we take for granted the support we receive from administrative staff.  It will be important to establish a rapport with such staff in person prior leaving since, after relocating, you are likely to only be dealing with them by email or phone.

If you will manage client accounts, it is important to strengthen your existing relationships with clients.  Let your clients know of your impending transition.  You may want to reassure your clients that your relationship will not change. 

If you be able to offer additional value to your clients because of your transition, let them know this as well.  Perhaps you will be in a better position to do client visits or will be able to be more flexible with time, be sure to communicate these things beforehand. 

Establishment and Clarification of Objectives and Goals

What are the objectives and goals set out for you in your position now?  Get clarification on objectives that are not clear or that have not been articulated.  It is easier to have a clear understanding of your employer’s expectation.  This should be used as your minimum basis for accomplishment. 

What are your personal business goals?  On top of your existing objectives, what other things do you intend to accomplish above the minimum? 

I would suggest writing down all objectives and goals.  Sometimes having such items in list form in a visible location will help you to implement and achieve the items on the list. 

Your goals should also incorporate an agenda to promote the building and strengthening of relationships and the demonstration of value to your employer.

Demonstrating Value: Maintain Your Presence/Flaunt Your Relevance

Once you transition to a remote office, you must aim to avoid an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mentality setting in as far as you are concerned.  To maintain your presence with your employer, you may have to flaunt your relevance in a number of areas.

How will you stay fresh in the minds of those that matter in your office?  You must demonstrate the value to your employer in keeping you around as an employee, even remotely. 

Think about the things that you are already bringing to the table.  You may be a prominent rainmaker, able to attract new business or provide valuable contacts, or you may be a team leader or have specialized skills making you an important asset to your employer.  Whatever it is that you are bringing to the table, it will be very important to maintain the value in these things while offering additional things on top of these such that you are offering increasing value over a period of time.

If you were making a transition from commuting to telecommuting, what kind of preparations would you make?

MAKE MONEY MONDAYS is a forum to discuss ways in which you can create additional sources of income.  I try to focus on particular ideas and steps you can take to create alternative income and passive income sources.  I have also begun a series of posts called “Rental Property Conversion.”  This series follows my husband and I as we turn our property into a rental property.  I will also research and post other useful information in this category. If you like what you see here, please use the orange icon at the top right to receive my content updates by email or RSS reader. 

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Lite Fare: Glimpse and Roundup

GLIMPSE

Make Money Monday:  From Auto Commuting to Telecommuting – As I prepare to make the transition from reporting to an office everyday to telecommuting from a home office everyday, I will discuss some of the changes that I will need to make in the way I do my job.  When telecommuting, it is important to maintain a strong and permeating presence with employers and with your clients. 

Techy Tuesday: Building A Blog Series: Is it time for me to start paying for a hosting service?  I want to look at this question a little closer and decide whether now’s the time to go at it alone. I will examine the question of when is the right time to leave the safety of free host services and host your own website.

Wedded Bliss Wednesday: TBD

Tough Life Thursday: TBD

ROUND UP

  • Every once in a while, it is good to have a reminder to Stop Reading, Start Doing.  Here, Kevin Muldoon from Time to Tweet reminds us not to spend all of our time reading other people’s blogs at the expense of updating our own.  Scheduling is key and although reading others’ blogs may help us with our own writing, he suggests not spending more than 25% of your allotted blogging time reading other blogs. 

LITE FARE FRIDAYS is anything thing that I feel like discussing on that day.  I will try to keep it light just in time for the weekend! .  If you like what you see here, please use the orange icon at the top right to receive updates by email or RSS reader.  

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