How to set up a home office on the cheap

We’re a country of start-up businesses. According to the Office of National Statistics there are more sole traders in Britain than ever before, a grand total of 4.1 million at the end of 2011, and growing.

I’ve been freelance for seven years so I know how important it is to have a comfortable, attractive, un-cluttered workspace. But it can cost a bomb to set yourself up a home office if you let things run away with you.

Here are some tips for setting up a home office on the cheap

  1. free and cheap desks – although a desk is vital, you don’t necessarily need an actual office desk. An old table will do just as well. If you want a real office desk you’ll often find second hand or reconditioned office furniture at specialist community recycling warehouses. We have two in town, Magpie Recycling and Shabitat. Is there one near you? Alternatively try Freegle, which I covered a couple of posts ago, for unwanted and completely free stuff delivered by nice people, direct to your doorstep. If you fancy using an old table, it probably won’t have drawers. You’ll also need storage. You can pick up second hand metal filing cabinets for next to nothing, or use an attractive old chest of drawers instead.
  2. cheap office chairs – unless you want to knacker your back  it’s a good idea to bite the bullet and buy a special ergonomic office chair. Try our discount codes and see what you can rustle up for less, find a sale, ask friends and family if they have a spare office chair or advertise for one on Freegle/Gumtree/Friday Ad.
  3. paper-free office – paper isn’t exactly an expensive buy. But if you go paper-free from the start you won’t need a printer either. Which will save you a fortune on printer cartridges. I’ve never used paper in my office and never had a printer. If you start as you mean to go on, it’s easy to get into the paper-free habit.
  4. minimal printed stuff – I don’t print much either, bar the occasional direct mail postcard campaign. I don’t have compliment slips, headed paper, pre-printed invoices, envelopes or stamps. The more of your business you can do online, the better.
  5. cheap PC and/or laptop – you can use our discount codes to pick up a low cost PC or laptop. You can also buy reconditioned machines online and in some independent computer shops. If you pick a medium sized or large laptop you only need one device. If you choose a desktop you may also need a laptop or smartphone to keep in touch when you’re not at your desk. Populate your machine with Open Source (free) software for virus protection, word processing, image manipulation, blogging, record keeping etc to keep the cost down even more
  6. the right clothes – this might sound a bit mad but when I dress the part and look smart, I feel smart. Occasionally I sit here in jeans and t shirt and it feels wrong. So I dress up for work every day even though I’m alone and my office is just a couple of metres away from our bedroom. Charity shops are a great source casual/smart wear and our fashion discount codes are great for picking up a couple of extra-smart outfits for client meetings.

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