Branding Our Life

Starting & Running a Small Business

Seven Essentials for Working from Home

Essentials for Your Home Office

More and more people are switching to working from home. I’m so glad I did! Between the blog and a bustling wedding business, there’s never a dull moment around our house. If you’re looking to make the switch to telecommuting or running a home-based business, you’ll need a few essentials.

Here are my must-haves for working from home.

Computer

A computer, laptop, tablet, whatever you have that connects with the internet and runs the programs or apps you need. Your clients will need to hear from you, your website will need updating, and you’ll need to post to social, so a computer of some sort is an absolute necessity!

Whole-Home Wi-Fi

If you’re anything like me, you’ll need the ability to reply to client messages at a moment’s notice. It’s not convenient to run to the home office every time you get an email.

TP Link Deco M5We live in the country. Getting internet was a feat in itself. Getting reliable Wi-Fi that worked throughout the entire house? Impossible. That is until we got the TP-Link Deco M5 Whole-Home Wi-Fi System. Now I can work from any room, any time of day. I can even work from my porch. It’s awesome! No more running to my desktop just to answer an email.

One of my favorite features has to be  the incredibly easy set up with the TP-Link Deco app. I’m not the most technically savvy, so easy-to-use is critical for me. We were up and running within minutes! My husband and I can both be working and streaming music at the same time now, and it’s wonderful.

Schedule

When switching from an 8 to 5 to working from home, you need a game plan for your day. You won’t have the built-in structure you had at the office, so building a framework for your day is vital to staying on track.

I recommend time blocking. It’s exactly like it sounds, setting aside blocks of your day to do particular tasks. If you’re most energetic in the mornings, you may set those aside for communicating with clients and creative projects and block out afternoons for clerical (less-energetic) tasks. For more productivity hacks, check out this post.

Notebook & Pens

Yes, in a mostly digital world, it’s still good to have a few analog tools handy. You never know when inspiration is going to strike. It’s important to write those things down. Actually write them. Don’t believe me? This study actually shows a correlation between writing things down longhand and remembering them.

Working Space

There are distractions aplenty when working from home. By designating a space- no matter how small- helps to stay focused. If you don’t have a spare room to devote to office space, choose a wall, a corner, or just someplace quiet where you can set up a workstation. Of course, you can work from anywhere in the house. The key is just to avoid interruptions while working on projects.

Calendar & Task Management System

You need to know what you have to do and when it’s due by. My Google Calendar and Asana app definitely get a workout! If paper calendars and to-do lists is your thing, go for it! Just make sure you’re consistent with whatever system you choose.

Storage

Both digital and physical storage is necessary. Whether you use a cloud-based storage system or an external hard drive, it’s important to back up your important files. While most of what we do as entrepreneurs these days is online, we still have items like cameras, cords, tablets, and notebooks that need a home. I have a handy little shelf that stores my tangible tools.

 

Essential Elements for Your First Business Website

Essential Website Elements You’ve finally decided to make your entrepreneurial dreams a reality. Congratulations! Now it’s time to build the all-important business website. Of course, you want it to be beautiful, helpful, and most of all a sales magnet. But where do you being?

Whether you’re building your website yourself, or hiring someone to do it, these are a few key elements you should include.

A Clear, Consistent Theme

This goes for both your fonts, colors, imagery as well as your brand messaging, blogging and other written elements. Sites with too many fonts, colors, etc. can be visually jarring. Choosing a few standard fonts — your main text font and one or two accent fonts — keeps your site looking clean and more visually appealing. Keeping your written elements on topic lends to your credibility, and keeps your readers engaged. After all, they wouldn’t have clicked on your website if they weren’t interested in your brand, product, service, niche, etc.

An Engaging “About” Section

What makes you so passionate about what you do? What sets your product/services/company apart from others? How can you/your product solve your clients’ problems? Why should your readers trust you? This is an important opportunity to introduce yourself and your services to potential buyers. Keep it personable, concise, and easy to understand.

An Easy-to-Navigate Menu

People are busy. They don’t want to spend 12 minutes trying to navigate where they want to go on your website. Make your menus easy to find and use. If your menu will have a drop-down list, ensure your category and subcategory groupings make sense.

Your Product or Service Offerings

This one sounds like a no-brainer. However, you’d be surprised at the number of websites that seem to hide their pricing, product, or service information. Again, if someone has clicked on to your business site, it’s pretty safe to assume they may be interested in what you have to offer. Make it obvious them and easy to find. In addition to making it easy to find, make it easy to understand and easy to book or purchase.

A Blog

Why is a blog important to a business website? That’s a great question. My favorite aspect of having a blog for my business is the social sharing element. It gives a continual stream of content to share across my social channels. Regular blog posts also help with Search Engine Optimization (SEO). In simplest terms it  gives search engines something to “search” for on your site. And lastly, blogging gives you an outlet to establish yourself as an authority in your field.

Social Media Follow & Share Buttons

Social media is the easiest way to keep in touch with your current and potential clients. Make it easy for your readers to connect with you and share your content by adding social media follow and share buttons.

 

 

Conquer Your Fear of Small Business Bookkeeping

Bookkeeping with QuickBooksThinking of starting a small business, but aren’t familiar with bookkeeping? Started a business, but struggling keeping the books? I was in the same boat until I found QuickBooks for Self-Employed.

In just minutes a week, I can maintain my books with ease. Here are a few of my favorite features:

Easily Categorize Expenses for Taxes

After connecting my business and personal bank accounts to my QuickBooks profile, I can now categorize my expenses with just the click of a button. This is helpful for two reasons, 1) I can see where I’m spending the most money, and 2) I can easily export a report of my Schedule C expenses for my year-end taxes.

Mileage Tracker

I travel  a lot for my business. The mileage tracker on QuickBooks for Self-Employed has been a life saver! In a matter of seconds I can enter my travel information and the program keeps a running report. At tax time, I have a clear picture of what my mileage deduction should be.

Profit and Loss Analysis

Every time I log in, I see a comparison of my year-to-date spending to my income. Just below the profit vs. loss graph is a pie chart of showing expenditures by category. It’s a quick visual indicator of where my business is financially.

Quarterly Estimated Tax Reminder

Tracking quarterly estimated taxes was definitely one of my biggest pain points. Now, when I log in to my account, I see my estimated quarterly taxes right at the top of the screen and the due date.

Invoicing

You do have to apply for online payments, but it’s a simple, straightforward process. Once that’s in place, you’re able to quickly create and send invoices.

Receipt Storage

I hate clutter! With QuickBooks I can take a picture of receipts and store them online. No more piles of receipts to organize on my desk.

Think QuickBooks for Self-Employed might be a good bookkeeping fit for you? Use this link to save 50% off your subscription for the first 6 months!

Please note:

This platform is perfect for the solopreneurs and freelancers out there. If you’re like my husband and have employees, you’ll want to check out this version of QuickBooks. By using this link you can save 20% to 50% off your first 6 months. If you’d like to do payroll from right inside QuickBooks, follow this link.

 

 

1 2