Running a home-based business is one the best ways to get started in business – you can get started quickly and keep your costs low. Plus, you’ve got a short commute.
Figures indicate that over 60% of new businesses are now started from home. And around two million of the 4.5m small and medium-sized businesses in the UK are based at home, according to a recent report released by Enterprise Nation.
These striking stats on home working can probably be explained in a large part by the availability of new technology. The rapid growth of the Internet, in particular, has fundamentally altered the way many businesses work and are structured – people can now work from almost anywhere, even making phone calls for pennies via the web.
Clearly, working from home has its perks, but it also has its pitfalls. So if you’re one of the many entrepreneurs working from home or are thinking about starting a home-based business, the following guideless will help ensure sure you get it right.
* Develop a business plan
Home-based businesses sometimes run into problems because they failed to follow a transition plan. It takes planning and hard work to grow a business to a level that will allow you pack in your day job. Producing a business plan will help to minimise the risk of failure and increase your chances of success. So create a plan with goals to help you chart your progress before you hand in your resignation. Your plan should not only include projections for the business itself, but also specifics on how you’ll manage working from home. But be realistic, you don’t want to build a business plan where you’re planning for more work hours than you can handle or ignore obvious interruptions that are going to detract from work. For example, If you have young kids, assume that you will be less productive when they are awake and plan to get the bulk of working done during nap times or when then are being watched by someone else.
* Establish a work schedule
When you were an employee, someone else dictated your working day and. Now it’s up to you to establish your own. To help you do this, it’s useful to establish a schedule of what you want to do each day. A schedule will act as a constant reminder that you’re supposed to be working, even though you’re at home. It’s also about making you leave the office at a scheduled time each day, since it’s tempting to keep ducking in and out of work, even late into the night. Although, sticking to your schedule may be easier said than done. Many entrepreneurs find keeping separate to-do lists for work and home helps manage their time and keep the two psychologically separate.
* Separate home from office as much as possible.
Set aside a dedicated workspace within your home. Depending on the type of business you own, this can be as small as a spare room or as big as your double garage. The crucial thing is that your have an interruption-free place that’s dedicated entirely to your work. Some home-base entrepreneurs shut their doors during work hours or put a sign up when they need to not be interrupted, such as during an important phone call.
* Be professional
Working from home is not an excuse to behave unprofessionally. For some people working from homes means they can flop from their bed to the office
without changing out their pyjamas. But, too often working in your pyjamas is an excuse to stay in bed. By getting up and making sure that changing into your work clothes, helps to maintain a professional standard and set the bar a little higher for yourself and your business.
* Get connected
A good phone system and high-speed Internet access is a necessity for every home-based business. Research shows that most businesses do more than 90% of their business by phone. While high-speed Internet access in addition to providing you with a limitless source of information, will provide a virtual office for you and your clients.
* Find a meeting place
Some home-businesses simply aren’t set up for visitors. So consider using local coffee shops for business meetings. These days, they all have fast Internet connections, so you can be online during your meeting in case you need to access files or demo online.
* Taking on employees
This can be tricky. If you’re going to have workers in your home, make sure you have the necessary insurance. And it’s a good idea to screen prospective employees carefully – after all, you’re letting them into your home. Also make sure they’ll be comfortable working in a home office, some people will do better in a home environment than others.
* Get out of the house
Every now an then it’s important to get out of the house, to avoid going stir crazy. Once in while, give yourself an afternoon offer to see a movie or go to a coffee shop – anything for a change of scenery.
* Avoid distractions
One of the biggest pitfalls of a home-based business is the temptation to give into the distractions of home life – whether it is the watching kids, a neighbour popping round for chat, or the sudden urge to mop the kitchen floor.
If you find distractions are becoming a problem, keep a record of how you’re spending your time and make adjustments as needed. One way to stifle the urge to do non-business tasks is to hire someone else to do them. If you have young kids, say, getting in-home childcare or taking the kids to nursery for at least part of the week can keep you from being torn between work and home responsibilities. Also, getting a housekeeper in once a week, can free up work time you might otherwise be tempted to spend cleaning the house. Set this rule for yourself: when you are at work, you are at work – you don’t do anything but focus on business. No wandering into the kitchen every five minutes for a cup of tea. No TV on in the background. No kids to watch. Just focus on your business.