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Setting up at home: to get the job done, you need the right space and tools.

The years of yearning to be your own boss are finally over and you're ready to join the ranks of an estimated 14 million U.S. home-based businesses. But to run your company efficiently from home, there are a few things you need to consider.

For starters, the space you select affects just how much work you get done. So it's important to take into account the way other people will use your home while you are working.

Say you decide to convert the far corner of your living room into the corner office you've always dreamed of. Well, that may not be a good move if this is an area where the children play. Most clients frown upon hearing the antics of toddlers during important business conversations. You want to avoid as much noise and as many interruptions as possible.

Equally, nix setting up in your basement or attic, unless you know you can get ample natural daylight and maintain a moderate room temperature. At the same time, you need enough room to house your essentials--desk, chair, filing cabinets, computer, printer and other office equipment. You also want a meeting area, which could be a couple of chairs or a couch. Also, look at converting an extra closet or linen cabinet into a storage space for supplies.

Although you may think you need state-of-the-art equipment, resist the urge to adorn your home office with the most expensive high-tech systems; your clients won't like you any less. All you really need is a computer, printer, copier, fax and phone. Better still, you can get an integrated unit--fax phone or fax copier.

The Right System

You probably own a computer or have resolved to buy whatever you mastered while toiling at your last job. Either way, if it's a 486-based IBM compatible or an Apple Macintosh Quadra computer, you're set.

The Gateway 2000 4DX2-66V costing $2,995 is a clear staple. Never mind the excitement about Intel Corp.'s Pentium chip. Yes, computers with this 586 microprocessor are the top of the line, but they're also very expensive, starting at $3,538. Besides, a lot of today's software can't even run on it.

The Quadra series, based on the 68040 processor, is reasonably priced between $1,100 and $1,400. Apple Computer Inc. has discontinued production of Macs built around the old 68030 processor, so don't rely on an outdated SE/30.

Getting It Out

A good printer is mandatory. Hewlett Packard's LaserJet 4 prints with a resolution of 600 dots per inch (dpi), which is twice the industry standard. This model prints eight pages per minute and sells for about $1,500.

Do you need 600 dpi? Not for general correspondence, but graphics and small type sizes could use the help. Basically, a one- or two-person office that does very little printing can get by with 300 dpi, which generally prints four pages per minute, for about $500.

Fax Forward

Since nearly half of all faxes are photocopied, a plain-paper fax machine will save you energy, time and money. There are two basic styles: inkjets and lasers.

While inkjet faxes are painfully slow (output one to two pages per minute), they cost between $700 and $1,100. For the speedier transmission time of laser models (four to 10 pages per minute), expect to pay from $1,400 to $3,000.

Copy For Copy

Canon, Sharp and Xerox are the leaders when it comes to offering "personal" copiers designed for the home office. Prices range anywhere from $300 to $1,500. But you can get away with paying $500 for a decent machine.

Notable features include zoom function and specialized copying capabilities, such as printing mailing labels. Good picks: Sharp's Z-88 copier ($400) or Z-57 II ($500).

Dialing Up Business

Telephone system vendors are focusing long-awaited attention on small businesses. AT&T's Integrated Solution III services provide voice mail, fax services and call accounting for the small end-user. Solution III is designed to work with AT&T's Merlin Legend phone system, which can handle from 10 to 80 lines. But for such services, expect to pay anywhere from $300 to $600 per line.

Still, should you find you are totally stumped, take a look at the pamphlets What To Buy For Business (800-247-2185), or ConneXions (703-791-6264), a quarterly newsletter that can help guide you through the basics of home-based business shopping.

HOT PRODUCT IBM dictation Turning spoken words into PC text

With the epidemic of repetitive strain injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, IBM Corp.'s Personal Dictation System is a highly welcomed tool. This high-tech gem converts spoken words to PC-based text. Priced at around $1,000, the PDS requires at least a 4865X, 25Mhz computer with 32 MB hard drive and 8 MB of RAM above system memory. It works with the OS/2 and Windows (available sometime this year) operating systems. There's an enrollment period where you train the PDS to recognize you speech patterns, up to 32,000 words (in the strongest accents). Custom vocabularies are also available.


Looking to merge onto the information superhighway? The Black Data Processing Association will host its Northeast regional conference on June 25-26 at the Gateway Hilton in Newark, NJ; 908-754-7714.
COPYRIGHT 1994 Earl G. Graves Publishing Co., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1994, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:home-based businesses
Author:Reynolds, Rhonda
Publication:Black Enterprise
Date:Jul 1, 1994
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