Starting your own business and working from home may seem like a fantastic idea in theory but there is a lot to consider before you take the plunge. You will be removing yourself from the majority of work-related social interaction, you will be accountable for everything, you must motivate yourself, review your performance and everything else associated with workplace business operations.
However with all this in mind you may be the type of person who thrives in such an increase in responsibility. Below are my ten tips to consider before embarking on a new home-run business.
1. Gain family understanding
The first, and most important, aspect of working from home is to establish an agreed understanding with your family. It is easy for your family to consider that being at home means you are likely to be working as hard or that you will have more time to perform errands. You need to establish straight away when your work times will be and how much time per week you need to commit to the business. It does not need to be a strict 9-5 work routine but you must allocate and agree set times when work must be performed without disruption. Similarly, the reverse s true and you must ensure that when you have agreed to spend time with your family and friends you drag yourself away from your work and do so.
2. Set aside a specific place for working
If you have the space you should try to create a specific location to perform your work. A spare room, a study, the garage or the dining room table will be fine, just make sure the space is allocated for work. Even your shed can function as a work space if needed – after all, it was good enough for Roald Dahl it will certainly be good enough for you.
3. Plan your work
Running a business by yourself from home, or with only a few employees, means you will have a lot more to do. You will need to adopt a variety of job roles to ensure all essential tasks are performed in a timely manner and to the required standard. Identify your different job roles and plan your working week, month or year accordingly to ensure all tasks are completed effectively.
4. Set yourself targets
You may have decided to run your own business from home to break free from the constant targets and objectives that your previous employment imposed upon you. However, you are now in control of your business and you will have to set your own objectives and targets to ensure you progress and succeed in your business activities. Use the SMART model to set your objectives.
5. Reward yourself
Once you have set yourself targets you should ensure you reward yourself when they are achieved. If you worked for someone else you would likely be rewarded for your good work with a thank you, promotion or maybe even a bonus. Therefore, when working for yourself don’t feel bad about treating yourself to a night out with your partner or buy yourself something new. Rewards have been shown to increase motivation and productivity and with no boss you must allocate the rewards yourself.
6. Be available
Make sure you are easily reached by colleagues, clients and prospective customers. Your phone should always be on and you should respond to emails and messages promptly and in a professional manner. I deal with various people working from home and for people who work at home they never seem to be indoors or contactable in any way. It is very frustrating and looks extremely unprofessional so make sure people can get hold of you.
7. Be social
Just because you are working from home does not mean you should be completely isolated at all times. Social networking sites offer a great platform for networking and engaging with others but you should also get out and about and meet people in the real world as well. Local business networks are plentiful in most areas in the UK and I would strongly recommend attendance in order to share your knowledge and experiences with others.
8. Up-skill in relevant areas
You are now the captain of the ship and may need to up-skill in a range of different areas. Having the ability to perform multiple aspects of the business operation will reduce the costs associated with using external services and will further develop you as a well rounded business manager. It will also give you overall control of your business ensuring quality is maintained across all activities. I am not suggesting that you don’t outsource any tasks but if you have a good understanding of that task you will be better positioned to assess the quality of their work.
9. Organise your admin
Depending on your business sector you will be required to present a range of different documentation and information to various organisations. You need to track your financial history, create policies and procedures, evidence quality assurance and much more. Understand what is required for your business and ensure you are adhering to the guidelines and standards. It would be very frustrating to come unstuck over your admin so get it in check and keep it that way.
10. Don’t forget about insurance
Make sure you have considered insurance for your business. This can be a complex subject and you may need to seek professional advice in this area. However, ensuring you are covered appropriately to meet professional and industry requirements is a vital aspect of business start-up. Seeking external advice in this area may be your best option to ensure all bases are covered.
Working from home can be a fantastic and flexible way to work and if you are planning to do so I wish you all the very best. I hope my tips have been made you think about working from home in a different way and if you have any tips of your own please share them by posting a comment below.