Get Ahead VA is very proud to have branches across the country, and the Regional Directors that run them are brimming with good advice about being your own boss. Today Karen and Allison, who run the Newcastle branch, are here to share their top tips for setting up an office in your home.
Hello! We are Karen and Allison, and we run the Newcastle branch of Get Ahead VA from a spare bedroom in Karen’s house, so we know what it takes to set up a good home office. If you’re thinking of becoming a Get Ahead VA Regional Director, or you just want to go into business for yourself, here’s what you need to get started.
Find a dedicated space
It’s very important to have a dedicated space for your office, because you are delivering a professional service and so you want a professional place to do it in. The best option is to set aside an entire room – this means you can shut the door and more easily keep your work life separate from your home life, so you’re not looking at that pile of ironing or dirty dishes all day! If you don’t have a spare room, you can section off part of a room using a screen instead.
When you set up a workspace in your home, you’re essentially recreating the sort of office you would have in a regular job. Having a dedicated place to go to every day helps to give structure to your working life. And even though your ‘commute’ might simply be walking up the stairs, this can be enough to switch off those everyday distractions and put you in the mindset of being at work.
Having a separate office with a door you can close also helps to keep your work files and client information private – this is especially important in this post-GDPR world. You don’t want Post-it Notes with clients’ phone numbers pinned to your kitchen noticeboard for all to see!
There are other security measures you can take in a home office too, like having a lockable filing cabinet for the most sensitive paperwork, and a shredder for when you need to dispose of important documents. We also recommend boosting your digital security by getting some good anti-virus software and backing up your work to an external drive.
Get the right equipment
It’s so important to have good equipment for your home office, and this starts with the desk and chair. You could be using them for 7 hours a day or more, so make sure you choose comfort over looks (sitting on a sofa with a laptop balanced on your knees is just not going to cut it!). You should also make sure you have good lighting, and position your screen so you don’t get any glare from nearby windows. Remember, when you run a business, you are your own health and safety person.
We also recommend investing in reliable office equipment. You should have a printer for printing out things like cover letters – even in this almost-paperless world, you never know when you’ll need to print something. On our computers, we use Microsoft Windows and Office, because these are the most compatible with our clients’ systems.
Set up an office address
If you’re working from home, you might not want to give out your home address to clients and companies that you come into contact with as part of your business. Instead, we use our accountant’s address, but you could also set up a PO Box if you want to receive post somewhere other than through your front door.
Did you like these tips? We’ve got plenty more where they came from! We’ll be back with Part 2 of this blog next month.
Karen and Allison manage a team of virtual assistants in Newcastle, who are ready to help with all aspects of running your business, as and when you need them. You can contact the Newcastle office on (0191) 603 0750 or [email protected] Alternatively, you can get in touch with our head office on 01483 332220 or [email protected]. We pride ourselves on being the staff you don’t see, but the difference you do.