Here’s the best way to set up your home office: Don’t!
Not right away at least. Too many people concentrate on the “look” of their home-based business before they pay any real attention to the reality.
The fact of the matter is, you can get started as a home-based travel agent without anything remotely resembling an “office.” Oh sure, you need a phone and a place to keep supplies, but that’s it. You can function very well for a surprisingly long time by commandeering the kitchen table from time to time.
I know that for some people setting up their home office satisfies a “nesting” instinct and I don’t want to make you feel bad if you’re one of those people. But consider this: Succeeding as a home-based travel agent means using “guerilla tactics” to beat out the glitzy storefront agency down on Main Street. And what better way to do that than to bring the “travel agency” to your customers’ homes instead of forcing them to come see you in your “office.” For many home-based travel agents this is the kind of “differentiator” that wins them loyal customers.
If you want to use your home you can of course, but do it in a social setting. For example, many home-based travel agents report great success hosting “cruise nights” when they are promoting or selling cruises. Or having a Hawaiian-themed party to promote great deals on a vacation in the islands.
Obviously, at some point, you will want to have a bona fide, honest-to-goodness home office. For one thing, only by having a separate room dedicated solely to your home-based business (a corner of a room isn’t good enough) will you be able to enjoy the tax benefits of a home office. Besides, when your business grows to a certain point, you’ll simply need the space and the freedom from distraction that goes with a separate office. When you get to that point, you’ll know it.
For now, however, resist the urge to decorate that spare bedroom with fancy office furniture and an Oriental rug.
There’s an exception to this rule: Experienced agents, who have worked inside a storefront agency and who have what is known as “a following” and who feel comfortable dealing with customers in an office-like setting often find they work best when they have a home office that’s a mini-version of their “office-office.” But even these agents shouldn’t overlook the tremendous competitive advantage of visiting their customers at their homes and offices.