There are more and more people running their own businesses from home. You are thinking along the same lines, but where to begin? You will need to plan carefully, organise and be organised, and you will need to spend money to give your new business a jumpstart.

You might not be investing money in buying an existing business as there are opportunities that do not cost money, but you will need to spend money to set up your home office. You will not go into a pharmacy and find that there are no shelves to display the merchandise, and just so, your home office cannot function effectively if you do not have the necessary tools to carry out your plan.

Once you have purchased a desk and a chair from where you can run your business, your next priority will be a computer. Without a computer you will most likely not be able to complete the most rudimentary of tasks associated with the administration of your new enterprise. You will need to decide if you want a desktop computer or a laptop computer. Your choice will depend largely on whether you need you computer to be able to go where you do or if you are happy to leave it at home when you are out.

All computers are pre-loaded with an operating system. Some will be loaded with Apple Mac OS, some with an open source OS, and most with Microsoft Windows. With Microsoft Windows you will most likely have Microsoft Office Suite (included or purchased separately) which will include applications (programmes) such as Microsoft Word, Microsoft PowerPoint, and a very important application for the home office: Microsoft Excel, which will enable you to access, organize and analyze critical business data.

Be it the latest 2008 version or an earlier version, such as Excel 2003, training in Excel will afford you greater functionality from the programme, and allow you to make full use of its many and varied features, some of which are listed below:

- Excel gives novice and intermediate users confidence in working with spreadsheets, which can be used for simple tasks such as keeping an inventory of stock items, or more complex tasks such as creating statistical charts
- Excel makes it very easy to create, save, and share powerful spreadsheets
- Excel allows you to track, analyse and alter data easily, be it numerical data, text data, or a combination of the two
- With Excel you can have a few worksheets within one file, so it is not necessary to have more than one file open when you are working with a variety of information
- Excel can be used to create basic mathematical calculations (e.g. adding up a column of numbers) to more complex calculations (e.g. the working out of averages and percentages)

Now that you are better informed of the advantages of Microsoft Excel in the home office all that is left is for you to be bold, and prepare yourself to start your own business from home.