Starting a new business isn’t just challenging, it can also be very costly. The good news is that you’re automatically a sole proprietor in the eyes of the IRS if you earn more than $600 per year as a contractor or freelancer (you’ll often be sent a 1099 by clients at the end of each year). This qualifies you to write off a slew of business expenses like office supplies, assuming you only use these items for business. However, it’s still important to practice smart shopping and budgeting when your startup is taking off.
From business phones from Cheap Phones to perusing Craigslist for a quality, used office desk, it’s time to tap into your inner frugalista. Let’s start with your actual office space: More and more professionals are opting for home offices/virtual offices according to The New York Times, which can seriously cut down on your overhead. Unless you truly need commercial space, like if you’re opening a brick and mortar bakery, consider if you can manage with a home office. After all, then you can write off a portion of your rent or mortgage without having to pay extra for business space.
Not sure where to get started setting up your office? Most professional women need at least these foundational pieces:
1. An ergonomic chair/desk setup
There aren’t any rules that say you have to have a “business desk” and sit on a ball to protect your back while at work. However, following some basic tips like those from Life Hacker on properly positioning your chair to your desk can make a huge difference. It might be tempting, but don’t work from a couch or your bed. Your posture, and ultimately health, will suffer from it.
2. Peace and quiet
Some people can tune out distractions better than others, but for the most part you’ll need a quiet space in order to do your best work. This doesn’t mean you have to lock yourself away in a spare bedroom or corner for eight (or more!) hours each day. Some women do better having a TV on mute for “company” and a 30-second distraction every now and then while they’re uploading files, etc. Find the type of environment that works for you and fine tune it.
3. A morning schedule
Maybe you consider yourself a night owl, but numerous studies have shown that all people are most effective and alert within a couple of hours upon waking. Perhaps for whatever reason (like a newborn baby), your schedule is out of whack. No matter when you wake, capitalize on those first few hours. Commit to finishing X amount of work within the first two hours, and you’ll set the precedent for the rest of the day.
4. A support network
The more support you can muster up, the better. Think a spouse whose happy to let you vent, a network of fellow female entrepreneurs (in person or online) who understand where you’re coming from, a run group that lets you refresh and talk about nothing but PRs for a little while each week, or a therapist who’s your go-to sounding board. If you can swing it, a mentor is a fantastic way to bolster your career.
5. Updated office equipment
The IRS probably won’t look twice if you write off a new smartphone, laptop, tablet, printer, and fax machine every single year. If you’re using outdated equipment or software, that’ll slow you down and negatively impact your earnings.
Starting a business is a huge feat and you need support (both emotionally and materialistically). Going without is setting yourself up for failure.
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