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Tax Expert: Road Warriors, Business Travelers Bone Up on Expenses

Finances, The Road Warrior
June 1st, 2010 No Comments »

June Walker, a tax advisor to the independent / soloist / self-employed and home office business community since 1979, has guided indies through various tax issues for years.

Today, she offers some guidance on handling business and travel expenses. To June, the questions seem the same: Travel expenses, transportation expenses, vehicle expenses – aren’t they all more or less the same thing?

Well, maybe to you they are, June says. But not to the IRS. There are subtle and there are grand differences. Understanding standard business travel and the expenses related to a typical business trip is the place to start.

Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house goes Pat Personal Trainer. Gram just bought a color laser printer and it’s the cheapest way for Pat to print his new brochures. He leaves Friday afternoon. The bus gets him there in time for dinner. He works at the computer all the next day until the wee hours. (He’s sure these new brochures will get him lots of customers.) Very early the next morning he kisses Grandma good-bye and heads back home on the bus.

Pat was away from his home, for business, overnight. It was BUSINESS TRAVEL. Therefore he may deduct travel expenses.

The IRS says this about BUSINESS TRAVEL . . .

Read More »

Jack’s Sack: A Road Warrior’s Org-Tool

The Road Warrior, organization
June 1st, 2010 No Comments »

Fans of 24 will recall the messenger bag / shoulder tote that Jack Bauer used to carry. It held various Secret Agent tools – nuclear bomb deactivation tools, that ubiquitous “handheld” to which CTI could send building schematics.

Never saw him pull out lunch or a pair of car keys, though.

Jack Bauer & the Jack Sack

Jack Bauer & the Jack Sack

Still, I wanted a bag dripping in such utility. Functional, not too girlish. Effective enough to carry all my stuff, but still macho enough so as not to bring my manhood into question (no, it’s neither a manpurse NOR a European shoulder bag). Apparently, you can find one here.

Any home office worker, teleworker or other mobile tech / road warrior likely could appreciate this lament.

Is there a bag that fits all the stuff the modern tech-laden exec or home-working mom / dad must shuttle?

In other words, what makes a great laptop travel bag? It’s a question I’ve asked for years.

Read More »

Marriott’s Residence Inn Taps Home Office Expert for Ad Campaign

The Road Warrior, What's New With the Tour?
October 26th, 2009 No Comments »

marriott-bookmark-jpgHome office, telework and road warrior technology tips from leading home-business and work-at-home expert Jeff Zbar will be featured in more than two million copies of TIME, Fortune and Money magazines and Time Inc. websites beginning this week.

In a unique promotional campaign for Marriott International Inc.’s Residence Inn brand, Zbar provides two dozen tips on remote work strategies, “cloud” computing and online security. The tips are presented on “bookmarks” bound into the magazines and linked to from the websites. View the bookmark here.

“Road warriors, digital nomads and others who work from the road don’t want to struggle or just get by. They want to thrive – no matter where work and life take them,” said Zbar, creator of Chief Home Officer and Home Office Highway, a site focused on extended, working vacations. “Residence Inn’s campaign reveals in simple detail how easy it can be to achieve location independence and to connect and compute from a workspace other than the home or corporate office.”

The Residence Inn campaign, “Master The Long Trip” appears in the October 26 issues of TIME and Fortune, and the November issue of Money. The online tips debuted on CNNMoney on October 19, and will run through November 30. The tips also appear on Sports Illustrated.com. Read More »

Home Office Home Again: Random Observations After 2 Weeks on the Road

Commentary, The Road Warrior, technology
August 2nd, 2009 No Comments »

After two weeks on the road, it’s the simple observations that bring clarity to the home office adventure. Like…

- Sponsor or no, the Verizon Mifi ‘personal hotspot’ won the day — hands down. It was a true fan favorite and winner of the HOH’09 Product of Choice. Hey, anything that keeps the hoards from beating me up for my Internet connection is worthy of praise. Teleworkers and road warriors alike will find this tool extremely useful.

-Yes, family, we WILL survive two weeks without a TV. And we did. We talked, played more Yahtzee and Racko than we ever thought possible, and watched burning embers in the fire pit. And yes, we surfed the Web. A lot. Truth be told, we watched a few DVD movies on Zack’s HP laptop. But that’s NOT TV.

- Open a bag of animal crackers, and a dog’s nose knows. “Food, food, food…”

- “Yes, Mom, Spaghetti-Ohs make a perfectly suitable breakfast.”

Belkin Clap On Surge Suppressor

Belkin Clap On Surge Suppressor

- Success is in the gadgets you choose. Like the Belkin Clamp On surge suppressor that, well, clamped on to the edge of the bunk and supplied power to all our gadgets (no small feat, given the number of gadgets we employed).

- When plugs aren’t available, old-fashioned cigarette lighters will work. Just the ticket for the Scosche reCoil retractable car charger for iPod and iPhone.

- Netbooks beget adaptors and accessories. And manufacturers are responding. The Targus Netbook Accessory Kit includes a nifty USB hub, a travel mouse and a slip case for netbooks with screens up to 10.1 inches. Read More »

Ten Must-Pack Home Office RV Tools & Accessories

The Road Warrior, organization, technology
July 26th, 2009 No Comments »

Packing wisely makes the difference between success and frustration on the road.

Packing wisely makes the difference between success and frustration on the road.

To paraphrase the once-almost-ubiquitous line from a popular credit-card commercial, ‘What’s in your backpack’?’

Whether a family cruise or a two-week road trip, I make sure to pack my backpack with all the essentials needed to create a home office from the road. And with every trip, I find something new to stash in my travel case. I’m sure road warriors and teleworkers go through the same exercise.

Along side my MSI Wind netbook and Verizon Mifi personal hotspot, Below are the 10 (or so) must-pack accessories I carry with me:

- My laptops and netbooks don’t have card readers. So I carry a card reader and USB flash drive so I can import the scores of photographs I’ll shoot each day. Read More »

What Tech Drives Home Office Highway?

The Road Warrior, technology
July 25th, 2009 No Comments »

Wonder what technology drives the home office highway?

Discover as I discuss the topic with Jim Blasingame with Small Business Advocate. A hint: Mifi, a netbook, the Cloud — and a barking dog. The pleasures and realities of live radio — from a rocking chair at the General Store at Stone Mountain Park Campground. It’s even good for telework and road warriors, if they want to work from an RV…

Home Office Highway: Snapshots From the Road Traveled So Far…

Making Memories, The Road Warrior
July 24th, 2009 No Comments »

The road traveled, so far...

The road traveled, so far...

Four days into Home Office Highway ‘09 and we’ve seen a great deal of Florida and Georgia.

We’ve traveled about 10% of the trip on country backroads, so we’ve seen more of Real America than we have in the past.

A sampling of snapshots from the trip thus far: Upper left (and me in hat), tubing down the Itchetucknee River in North Central Florida; top center and right, Stella enjoying my harmonica playing, then asleep on her perch: My Foray Mobile Workmate; lower right, Robbie sending a Bunk Note to Zoe on the MSI netbook; lower left, the campsite home office: the netbook, Verizon Gz’One Boulder, and a cup of coffee.

These are the images memories are made from…

Home Office Surfing in a ‘Personal Hotspot’

The Road Warrior, technology
July 21st, 2009 No Comments »

Night surfing with the Verizon MiFi and the MSI U123 netbook.

Night surfing with the Verizon MiFi and the MSI U123 netbook.

Years ago, surfing in public meant first paying $15 an hour for a user ID and password hand-written on a scrap of paper so you could log on to some cyber cafe’s network.

Now, it’s as easy as hitting the MiFi, powering up the netbook — and in less than a minute, you’re up.

This year’s home office highway is shaping up as an exercise in simplified surfing. Last year, setting up a network meant powering up and wiring in a router the size of a cigar box. This year’s “access point” is a business card-sized device that enables five Internet devices — netbooks, laptops, MP3 players, an iTouch — to log on simultaneously. Read More »

Remote Home Office & Telework Tools: A Road Warrior Pre-Departure Check

Pre-Trip Planning, The New Work, The Road Warrior
July 5th, 2009 No Comments »

Jeff @ work at the dinette home office

Jeff @ work at the dinette home office

Cloud computing, Location Independence, the Anywhere Office…

Whatever it’s known by, remote work done beyond the traditional and home office liberates millions of workers every year. Already, countless teleworkers are untethered to work. And more agile remote work strategies and policies ould free even more to explore boundless opportunities – if they knew and used the tools needed to explore this New Way to Work.

Home Office Highway explores those tools and strategies. Over the next month, we’ll write about trip preparation and lessons learned, the tools we’ll use and the applications we’ll log on to from the road.

Travel with us as we reveal how the right technology, client expectations, and family ground rules can help you work wisely from the road. So hit the highway in your RV, a minivan or the family sedan, or set up shop in a beachfront cottage or timeshare.

For many businesses, the ability to work remotely creates a key disaster recovery / business continuity solution.

Remember: “Work is not a place. It’s a thing.” It’s a big country out there. Don’t let a thing like work get in the way of exploring up close and personal.

Home Office & Small Businesses Mixed on Hittin’ the Road

The Road Warrior
May 27th, 2009 No Comments »

Hittin’ the road? Many home-based entrepreneurs and small business owners aren’t so sure.

Despite continued economic challenges, the percentage of small business owners planning a summer vacation of at least a week remains similar to last year (56% this year, vs. 59% in 2008), notes the American Express OPEN Small Business Monitor, a semi-annual survey of business owners.

Then again, some entrepreneurs are showing signs that they’ve had enough of the dour predictions and office: Fewer business owners are feeling guilty about taking time off compared to last year (22% vs. 28% in 2008).

What’s most striking about their vacation plans compared to last year is the fact that more business owners are opting to take a less expensive vacation in today’s uncertain economy (32% vs. 20% in 2008). Four of 10 business owners will not take a vacation at all because they can’t afford it.

(The American Express OPEN Small Business Monitor, released each spring and fall, is based on a nationally representative sample of 727 small business owners/managers of companies with fewer than 100 employees. The anonymous survey was conducted via telephone by Echo Research from February 24- March 9, 2009. The poll has a margin of error of +3.6%).


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