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It's all in the mind.

tlyMost people who work from home have a wish list of new equipment and software they would like to add to their office. The most successful businesspeople, however, find ways to transform their wish lists into reality more quickly than others.

Instead of thinking, Oh, I don’t really need that, those who are quick to adopt the latest technology think, Oh, I could sure use that. They don’t let themselves feel satisfied with just getting by. They don’t want just to survive; they want to thrive. So get beyond thinking about what you need and start thinking about what you can use. Take a look at your wish list and start imagining what you could be doing if you had those items right now.

If you still have an I-don’t-need-that attitude toward a particular piece of hardware or software, at least allow yourself to investigate how your competition is using it. If the most successful, fast-moving competitors are updating their equipment, you could be missing out, making your life harder than it needs to be.

While some times are better than others, there is no “right time” to introduce new hardware or software into the one- or two-person home office. You’ll always encounter some downtime and inconvenience when upgrading. Prices will drop and features will be added after you buy, but the sooner you upgrade your electronic arsenal, the sooner you’ll start enjoying the benefits.

While learning to use new software and setting up new hardware can be time-consuming and complicated, virtually all such products are becoming more user-friendly. Both manufacturers and retailers are offering more customer support in the form of tutorials on disk, better-designed instruction manuals, more intuitive interfaces, and toll-free 800-numbers. Check to be sure that the phone lines are not always busy and the staffs are knowledgeable.

Freelance consultants can help you set up and install equipment or teach you how to use new software. Many consultants charge reasonable fees, and sometimes you can barter for their services. Seek referrals from the store where you buy a product, from local college or university computer classes, or from your peers. And with so many other people bringing their offices up to snuff, you can probably find friends and colleagues who can give you a helping hand.

People often think of the items on their wish list in terms of their original prices when they came on the market. Frequently people don’t realize how dramatically prices have fallen on much of the most popular technology. Prices on equipment have dropped and are continuing to drop – at an average rate of 20 percent a year. Prices on computers have fallen more than 30 percent since the first of this year.

Remember that technology will pay its own way. Equipment will usually save or make you money. If the items on your wish list meet any one of the following conditions, wait no longer.

EQUIPMENT OR SOFTWARE WILL PAY FOR ITSELF WHEN . . .

1. . . . buying new equipment or software would cost you less than operating the way you have been. For example: Producing proposals, fliers, and brochures on a new laser printer could cost less than having these items printed at a print shop. Our print bill dropped from more than $200 a month to less than $50 after we bought a laser printer for our home office.

2. . . . the technology will free your time for marketing or doing billable work. For example, we used to waster almost an hour a day traveling to the print shop to have copies made. Now that we have a copier, that time is used for more cost-effective activities.

3. . . . the cost of the hardware or software would be self-liquidating. In other words, the new hardware or software would enable you to generate as much or more income as it costs. For example, if a new newsletter landed you a $2,000 job, that would pay for your publishing software and a laser printer.

4. . . . the new items will attract business you would not have gotten otherwise. For example, a writer ordered call waiting for his telephone the same day he discovered that he had lost a major project because an editor had hired someone else after calling twice and getting busy signals.

5. . . . an item on your wish list would actually generate income by itself. For example, a word-processing service could increase its monthly income by buying a scanner and scanning in graphics and text for existing customers as an additional service.

Spend money to make money! The potential time savings and increased sales make buying strategic equipment an investment you can’t afford to lose. And, of course, the cost of your business equipment is tax-deductible, which means the government helps you pay for it. The competitive edge that today’s technology offers is an investment in your success.


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