What Do You Need To Run Your Small Business From Home
Jacques du Rand 2020-10-12
During the Covid pandemic lockdown many people had to quickly set-up home office environments (if they remained employed) or find new ways of gaining valuable business leads from online avenues.
This resulted in many people flocking to popular online e-tailers to find cheap office basics. Some were lucky enough to get instructions (and budgets) from employers to help them get set-up, but others had to scramble to get something together in time and also learn new ways of keeping their business afloat.
Different Requirements for Different Purposes
The first thing most people think of when having to create a home-office is: what will it look like. We encourage you to rather ask the question: What function should it serve?
Your home office set-up requirements will differ slightly depending on whether you are a plumber, hairdresser, accountant, dog walker or a graphic designer.
It could save you on unnecessary expenses if you plan your requirements in advance. If you’re a graphic designer you may need a suitable desk, powerful laptop and possibly multiple monitors for multi-tasking. Whereas if you work in the service industry, such as, for example, a plumber or hairdresser you may only need a good laptop as most of your trade takes place away from your desk.
The Basic Hardware Set-up
Whether you’re planning on being out all day, or behind your desk for most of the day. You’ll need the following items for a good basic office set-up to run a successful small business from home.
A good laptop is critical to create content and communicate with your clients. Although one could argue that you could use a tablet, or good smartphone for the same purpose, an entry level laptop is relatively cheap and will go much further than trying to do the same amount of work on your smartphone or tablet.
See some great laptop deals at Raru.co.za
These days one also doesn’t need fancy programs. Cloud based (web based) and free alternatives exist for many of the larger corporation software of old.
We suggest a great little entry level laptop to consider, is the Chromebook, which can be picked up from less than R5,000 new.
- Good Internet
Having good and reliable internet is crucial to managing a successful business from home. Whether you need to make calls to clients (whether digital conference calls, or Whatsapp) ; answer email queries or build your digital presence; unreliable internet will rub off on you being unreliable in business.
- Type of Internet
The type of internet you choose will also affect how reliable your internet is.
Fixed line cables such as fibre and ADSL are much more reliable than LTE for example. ADSL is a dying technology, so we highly recommend rather opting for fibre, if you have fibre coverage in your neighbourhood. If you don’t yet have fibre coverage, LTE would be the next best choice to utilise withstanding whether or not you may get fibre down the line. In fact, there is a great router that can help in exactly this case!
- Internet Capacity/Speed
Unlike with ADSL, it is a common misconception for fibre that you need to choose the biggest data packet for it to work well. Choosing your fibre speed or package size will be completely dependent on what you need to use it for, as well as how many people will need to use it at the same time. A line of 5Mbps is more than enough to stream Netflix, however the moment you start doing multiple things online (like watching movies & trying to work online) or if you add more people on that connection, you might need a bit more punch. We suggest as an entry level fibre package, to start with 10Mbps. However, with the latest great pricing on fibre deals, you could possibly get more bang for your buck at 20Mbps.
- UPS or Battery Power Backup Devices
Unfortunately one can’t live (and work) in South Africa without being affected by occasional load shedding. Load shedding should not stop you from being able to work. The great thing about fibre as opposed to for example ADSL, is that it can keep on going if your power cuts out - as long as you have it on a backup battery of some kind.
All you need to do is to plug in your ONT/CPE device and router to the backup power system when load shedding hits. If your laptop and devices are sufficiently charged, at least you’ll have internet the entire time.
UPS battery backups are now relatively easy to find online, and you’ll only need about 650 - 800 VA to make it through a round of load shedding. A UPS can set you back anything from R600 and up. There are now also dedicated mini-UPS for router/ONT devices. They are a little more expensive from about R1,200, but last up to 4 hours.
How To Find & Attract Clients
Once you have your home office hardware and internet set-up, the next step is to find clients without having to go door-to-door.
Our top 3 digital marketing tips you can implement yourself to attract more clients:
- Create a Web Presence
You’re probably asking yourself, how do you do this yourself? But there are some great tools available that can help guide anyone to create their first website.
What your site needs:
- Clearly state what you do or sell
- Contact information
Our top suggestions for guided website creators are: Squarespace.com, Shopify.com and Wix.com. You can choose a look and feel, and the guide will help you complete your own copy. In a few clicks you’ll have a working website!
- Social Media Presence
You’re probably already quite familiar with Facebook. Creating a company Page on Facebook is free. If you regularly add posts and content to the Page you will build up the audience. Ask your friends and family to share your business Page so you can grow even faster! The great thing about having a Facebook business Page is that people can also tag you in other posts and Pages - for example if someone is looking for a particular service (such as hairdresser or plumber, etc) they can quickly tag you. Tagging your page allows people to get to your contact information a lot faster.
Google My Business Listing
Once you have a website up and running. Consider creating a Google Business Listing. This is a listing that appears on Maps - with the added bonus that you can enter your business hours, contact details, product or service offerings and a bunch more. This helps people find you a lot easier directly from Google. You can also ask clients to complete reviews of your business directly on this listing - which will help you stand out from other similar providers.
CIPRO - (Companies and Intellectual Property Commission - eServices)
Speaking of "online business tools", if you decide to register your business into an entity other than a "sole proprietor" in South Africa, you can make use of the online registration tools provided by CIPRO.
Almost all business success stories start off small. Whether you were forced to find an alternative income stream due to the lockdown, or whether you are pursuing your independence, Fibre Tiger can help you optimise your fibre and LTE internet costs through our fibre internet comparison service.