When I started working from home, one of my first tasks was making sure that my computer was properly configured to meet the needs of my business.
Entering the business of Computer Repair & Consulting, in particular, meant that my specific computer needs were a bit above average (most folks don’t need 5 external hard drives, for example). But I consider the basic components of my setup to be critical for any home-based business setup, not just those that are specifically tech-oriented.
In this article, I’ll describe these components and talk about why it’s essential for home businesses to set up them up properly.
Most home business owners rely on their computers for all of their core communication, accounting, and storage needs. Therefore, it is crucial that you take a few easy steps to help you survive (or even better, prevent) a catastrophic computer failure:
Hard Drive Failure – If your primary hard drive crashes, and you don’t have a backup, you’re in big trouble. Data recovery is easy if you have a backup, but very difficult (and costly) if you don’t. Install an external hard drive, and use it to keep up-to-date backup copies of ALL your data. (And don’t forget to backup your mobile devices too!)
Power Surges and Blackouts – This is especially important during the hot summer months, when electricity usage peaks and power surges/outages are common. Installing an uninterrupted power supply (UPS) will give your desktop computer 10-15 mins of extra use following a power outage, allowing you to save your work and avoid possible data corruption from a sudden power loss.
Beware the Spill – Coffee, coconut water, and vodka martinis are all terrific drinks for working at home. However, these tasty beverages are also shockingly effective at frying the main logic board of your laptop computer. A liquid spill is usually a career-ending event for a laptop, and most warranties (such as AppleCare) do NOT cover liquid damage, so be sure to keep liquids safely away from your laptop!
Productivity and Security
Optimizing your computer for maximum speed and productivity should be a top priority for home business owners, but securing your computer against external threats is just as important:
Anti-Virus Software – Not necessary for Mac users (yet), but critical for PCs. A computer virus can completely disable your machine and compromise sensitive information, so it is very important for PC users to have up-to-date AV software running at all times. Consider free anti-virus software as an alternative to the expensive, bulky programs that come pre-loaded with most PCs.
Software Updates – Don’t put these off by clicking “Remind Me Later” indefinitely: fully-updated software programs generally run faster than their outdated counterparts, and are also more reliable with fewer crashes and conflicts. Remember to update!
Network Security – Whether you’re running a simple home network, or a more advanced resource-sharing solution, the basic principles of network security apply: limit access to your network by setting permissions, change passwords frequently, and make your passwords difficult-to-guess (“password” and “12345” are NOT secure password choices!)
Online Branding and Promotion
Congrats on setting up your new home business computer system! Now it’s almost time to get to work, but first you need to attract a few customers:
Website – Investing in even a simple web design will allow interested parties to get basic information on your business online, and will serve as the public face of your brand in the absence of a physical storefront or office. If you work from home, and you want the public to find your business, then you need a website.
Online Branding and Promotion – Having your own website is great, but unless it is marketed and promoted properly, it will essentially just sit there and act as an expensive virtual business card. Your website should not only look professional, but also generate business (i.e. conversions). Your content needs to be keyword-optimized, mobile-optimized, indexed by search engines, submitted to local directories, and back-linked by social media so that it can found amongst the 600+ million other sites out there. Drive traffic to your site, and get conversions with professionally-optimized content.
Running a business from home is a challenging and rewarding experience, and a home business computer setup that is optimized for fast, reliable operation can help make it a productive and profitable experience as well. Maintaining a professional website will help you promote your brand, and will generate more leads and conversions for your business.
Please contact us for help with anything mentioned above.