Having a dedicated office space is critical to growing any small business, but how can you possibly get anything done in your home with all the distractions? Having a dedicated office space is a great option, but for small businesses on a budget, it may not be practical. In this blog, I’ll cover 5 important steps to convert a spare bedroom into an awesome office space:
Decide what kind of storage you need
Depending on the type of business you are running, you may need more storage than others. When I started selling on eBay, I found that storing boxes, packing tape, packing paper, bubble wrap, and everything else I needed to run by business was a challenge. I invested in a tall cabinet with shelves to keep all my supplies organized and out of the way, and ready when I needed it. I didn’t have a spare bedroom to run my business out of at the time, so having something with doors was important. I think it’s a great idea to separate work form your personal life, which is why I don’t recommend using your bedroom as an office if you can help it.
These things are pretty inexpensive to buy, and really help make the most out of a small space. Another option is to buy an entire 12-cube grid on Amazon, or just a 2 by 2 configuration. If you buy cubes to place on shelving, the fabric ones are really lightweight, are only a couple of bucks, and come in a bunch of colors to help with organization.
Storage racks and plastic containers
Another smart option for any business dealing with inventory is to invest in a couple of storage racks. You can dedicate shelves for certain types of supplies, and even buy a bunch of containers to place supplies in. I prefer using small 56 quart plastic containers for the inventory that I have. If you are dealing with inventory and need a system to store everything, check out How to Organize Inventory for a Small Business on a Budget. You can pick them up a 6 pack of clear containers pretty cheap on Amazon to get you started.
Choose the most streamlined furniture arrangement
It may not be too obvious, but the way you arrange furniture and supplies can help you be more productive. I have my room set up into sections to help me manage the inventory process easier since I sell products online. Since I prep inventory, photograph inventory, and list inventory in this room, having everything in it’s place really matters.
I have supplies placed strategically in a clockwise orientation along the perimeter of the room, with the first step of my process beginning on the left wall upon entry. The reason I do this, is to limit having to walk to the other side of the room to get anything when I’m prepping inventory. This type of inefficiency may seem trivial, but can really cost you a lot of time in the long run. You might also want to check to see if there is a commercial office furniture store nearby. You can save a ton of money by buying pre-owned desks, chairs, and just about anything else you will need.
If you are converting a spare bedroom into an office, I would recommend only having office furniture or business supplies in your office at all times (if you can help it). Keeping my business separate from my personal life has been key to keeping my business fun. Keeping supplies scattered all over your bedroom can really drive you crazy if you’re trying to forget about work for a couple of hours and mix the two worlds.
Also keep in mind, If your business doesn’t require that you move around a lot, this may not be as big of a deal.
Install some whiteboards or monitors to stay organized
As a visual learner, I like to keep alot of dry-erase whiteboards on the walls for whenever inspiration strikes and I’m not in front of a computer. For doing design work or working out equations, it defintely has helped me stay organized. You can order pretty large white kit on Amazon pretty cheap. To check the current prices, click here.
You may also want to get a dry-erase calendar to help organize your weekly schedule. I keep mine right above my desk, so I can easily view what needs to be done.
If you’re looking to be more productive, you may want to consider buying a monitor or two if you are working off of a laptop. I usually keep spreadsheets docked on one monitor, while I work on something else on the other. If you’ve never used dual monitors before, it’s a huge time saver. My full time employer has outfitted our office with Acer brand monitors, which are good entry-level monitors if you’re considering buying a couple. Many widescreen monitors start at around $100 bucks or less online.
Another device that I highly recommend picking up in the near future is a digital assistant. I recently outfitted my office with an Amazon Echo, and turn to Alexa daily to make simple calculations, set timers, and perform other routine tasks. With prices as low as $50 on Amazon, you really can’t go wrong with a good voice assistant whether that be Amazon Echo, Google Home, or Apple Homepod.
Label and organize supplies
Before you move in to your new space, start by having everything you need clearly labeled. As an example (before I set up my office), I would always seem to forget where the scissors were, and spent way too much time searching my apartment for supplies I needed. One thing that I did was purchase labels, markers, and masking tape. I now have a container for tape and desk supplies, one for storing receipts, and so on.
Create a pleasant work environment
To conclude, if you plan on spending considerable time in your newly converted home office, why not make it comfortable? If you’ve got the space, a small table and a couple of chairs in the center of the room can be the perfect place to think of your next big idea. I also prefer to keep a TV in my office for taking breaks if I plan to spend at least a couple of hours working.
Keep in mind, if you hope to one day move into a commercial office space, it’s a great idea to figure out what type of setup works for you while you are still working out of a spare bedroom. The main takeaway is to keep everything as organized as you can, so you can maximize the amount of work you can do at one time.