Posted Tuesday, December 21, 2004
As a home-based business owner, you probably don't have a high-priced IT manager on staff to fill you in on which technologies could help boost your efficiency and success. You may also lack the confidence to incorporate new technology into your home office, particularly if that technology is unfamiliar.
The reality, however, is that there are technologies out there right now which could save you money and help your business run smoothly. Below are just a few examples.
Networking is basically the connecting of multiple computers so that users can easily share and access files and programs on other computers. Most companies use computer networking to help their workers get their tasks done effectively. If your home has multiple computers you can network them as well to receive similar benefits.
Networking can save you money. For one, you only need a single printer or scanner because all of your home computers can use the same one. You can also save on Internet fees. If you use a broadband connection, home networking will allow you to use one connection for all of your home computers.
Another benefit is that many pieces of software can also be shared between computers so you don't have to buy multiple copies.
To establish a simple network in your home, each computer needs to be outfitted with a network adapter. Today, many come with these right out of the box. You will also need to purchase the necessary cable and hardware; the equipment you need varies depending on the type of network you decide to establish.
You can use your existing phone line, install an Ethernet network, or create a wireless network. While the prices vary for all of these types of networks, all of them are affordable for most budgets.
As you may have realized, working from home often means being tied to your computer and that can significantly limit your mobility, even if you use a laptop. Remote access technology changes all that.
Remote access technology will allow you to work with all of the files and programs on your primary computer even if you are a hundred miles away from your office. If you are on vacation, on a business trip, at the park with your children, at a coffee shop, or wherever you can keep waiting, keep checking your email, and keep communicating with your customers and clients.
Never being tied to your desk again simply requires you to purchase remote access software. Some of the program, such as Norton's pcAnywhere (http://www.symantec.com/pcanywhere), are available for outright purchase while others like LapLink (http://www.laplink.com) charge a monthly fee. Costs range from $40 to $200 and $9.95 to $29.95 respectively.
Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
If your business is like most, one of your biggest operating expenses is your phone bill. Those long-distance calls to customers and vendors can really add up each month and can dramatically eat into your profits. With VoIP technology, however, you can reduce those bills and save more of your revenue.
The technology allows you to use your broadband connection to make unlimited local and long distance calls without having to pay those additional fees or using a long distance carrier. Unlike early types of voice communication over the Internet, VoIP technology does not detract from the quality of the telephone reception. In fact, using the technology to make or receive a call seems no different than using a traditional telephone service.
With VoIP, a phone adapter is connected to your telephone and to your broadband modem. When you make a call using your ordinary phone that adapter converts the signal from analog to digital and sends it over the Internet to the person you are calling.
When someone calls you, your telephone number essentially works like an email address that guides the signal over the Internet and into the phone adapter. The adapter converts the signal and sends it to your phone. All of these steps occur in about the same length of time it takes for a signal to travel those standard phone lines.
A number of providers currently are offering VoIP services. The phone adapter, which is the only piece of hardware required, is not expensive and some providers even include it for free when you sign up for service. Most of these services charge a monthly fee that includes an unlimited number of long distance and local calls, plus features like call waiting and voice mail.
The most popular of these services, Vonage (http://www.vonage.com), offers unlimited minutes which can be used for local or long distance calls within the United States as well as free voicemail, caller ID, call transfer, and more as part of their small business plan. This plan costs only $49.95 per month. That's considerably less than what the average business spends on their phone bill.
The bottom line is that in today's business world, you need every advantage you can get. Technology can help give you that advantage. Make the most of it.
About the Author
Vishal P. Rao is the editor of Home Based Business Opportunities - A website dedicated to opportunities, ideas and resources to help you start a home based business. Visit him at: (http://www.home-based-business-opportunities.com)