Operating a business from home allows you the benefits of working flexible hours, not having to commute and arranging your schedule around your family’s needs. The advantages are great but the reality of being a home-based entrepreneur is not easy. Assuming you have checked into the legalities of operating a home-based business in your neighbourhood (Hint: to find out what business permits or licenses you’ll need, visit the BizPaL online tool), consider the following points:
Your property’s appearance and neighbourhood – If you have clients coming to your home you need to keep it presentable at all times. First impressions are very important. A poorly maintained yard and house (both outside and inside) may give clients the idea that you don’t look after things – does this include your business? How many clients will be coming to and leaving your property? Will this affect the relationship you have with your neighbours?
Your “office” space – A room within your house needs to be designated as your office space. When clients are meeting you at your home-office, they will expect to meet in a business setting – not at the kitchen table.
Your personality – When working from home, will you be able to separate your work-time from your personal/family time? Some entrepreneurs get up in the morning and get dressed like they would if they were going to work. This can create a business state of mind so that they can focus on their daily tasks. One entrepreneur said that he actually leaves the house to get a coffee and when he walks back through the door it is time to work. Working from home makes it very easy to work long hours, evenings and weekends. This can cause stress and strain between you and your family members. Check in with your family and make sure they are on board with you. As well, some home-based entrepreneurs feel isolated with no sense of connection to other business owners.
Some tips to help:
- Check in with your neighbours and let them know your plans. Reassure them that there won’t be a huge increase in traffic to the neighbourhood. Let clients know your hours of operation.
- Create a personal space for your business including all the elements of an office – table, desk, phone, computer, filing cabinet, chairs, etc.
- Establish a work routine, including daily breaks. Let your family members know that although you are at home, you are working. Track your time so you know exactly how much you are spending in your business.
- Join local business associations and/or networking groups so that you don’t feel isolated.
Many people run successful home-based businesses. The key is to be aware and understand that you need to carefully plan before making the choice. Forming an action plan can help you to reach realistic goals and keep you focused on growing your home-based business.
If you run a home-based business, we would like to hear your tips for success. Once a month we’ll enter all entries into a draw for a chance to win a voucher for one of our upcoming seminars (value $20.)