When you run your own small business from home, you are always “on.” Here are a few tips on how to be prepared to do business wherever you are.
Cell Phone/PDA: If you don’t have one already, the first thing you should do is to get a cell phone. That way, at the very least you can have your business land line calls forwarded when you are on the road, or even out running errands. There should be some sort of notification that you are receiving a forwarded call, and from whom, so you can answer and prepare yourself accordingly. You can even make your cell phone your only phone line for both personal and professional calls, but you will want to make sure that your outgoing message is related to your business. Your friends and family will just have to understand.
A PDA or a smart phone can keep much more information for you on hand, and can handle email and texting as well.
Your cell phone should also come with call waiting, and caller ID, and keep in mind that most states have either enacted, or will soon enact hands-free laws concerning cell phones and driving, so you will have to look into purchasing a either a bluetooth or wired headset so you you don’t get pulled over and fined.
Laptop: As smart phones get smarter, and cloud and remote computing begin to take hold, you will be able to do more and more with these tools and lessen the need for a laptop, but it is unlikely that they will ever replace these vital machines entirely. Shop around for a laptop that suits your needs, and make sure that you purchase a hard shell case to protect it, as well as an external hard drive so you can back up files in case it ever gets stolen or lost. You should also consider getting 3G or 4G wireless networking that can work anywhere, so you don’t need to search around for free wifi networks while you are out and about. At the very least you will want to have a wireless system set up in your home and home office so that you can work any where at any time that you need to.
Your laptop can also double as a fax machine with the use of internet faxing services, or you can use the fax machine at the nearest print shop.
Organizing Your Car: Take a look online or at your local office supply store for a car organizer so that you can keep tabs on such items as sticky notes, pens, staplers, and the like. In your trunk, you can keep a portable filing system and portable office machines such as laminators, binding machines, and punches. You may even be able to find car chargers for these machines, or find machines (such as cold laminators) that can do the job without the use of electricity. Keep these items in milk crates in the trunk of your car so that you can see them and grab them without having to dig through everything else.