10 Key Tips for Running a Successful Business from Home
Many would consider running a business from home a stress-free venture…and for many accomplished businesses, it is.
However, any new company still in its infancy will not only need to jump through a number of legal hoops, but also ensure that their home and work environments remain separate to avoid stagnation during a vital period of development.
Following these simple steps should ensure that any home-based start-up can be just as successful as an office-based equivalent.
Insure to Ensure
Let’s get the legal jargon out of the way! When setting up a business at home, you will need to check your insurance policy and likely take out additional cover for any business activity within your household.
This is not an expensive addition and most companies will combine any additional cover into one domestic and business policy.
If your business requires clients to enter your property, you may be advised to take out public liability insurance, another inexpensive addition to your insurance policy.
Paying Business Rates?
Depending on whether or not you have employees working alongside you in your property, you may be required to pay business rates on top of your council tax.
You will also be asked to pay these rates if you covert any part of your property into a shop/workshop or if client visits become a daily occurrence.
A quick call to the VOA (Valuation Office Agency) will verify if you are required to pay business rates.
Get an Accountant
While many see an accountant as superfluous expenditure, the amount of money that you could save from listening to their advice will likely outweigh their fees.
A competent accountant will be able to tell you what costs that you can offset as business expenditure. This could be a real money saver when running a business from home, as you may be able to claim for some of the costs of running your property, including heating and electricity bills.
Remove the Distractions
The leg-work that you put into your business in its infancy will often determine its future success. It is therefore of primary importance that you are using your working hours to work!
For some, it is often too easy to become distracted by that irresistibly addictive television show or that Everest-like pile of laundry, especially when there are no calls coming in.
Working from home requires a wealth of self-motivation, let alone when you are trying to establish your company. So, turn Netflix off, and turn your enthusiasm on.
Check Your Tech
Perhaps the most overlooked hurdle to overcome in a work-from-home environment is problems with equipment that you will be using on a daily basis. It is often far too easy to rely on technology to behave on its own.
To ensure that your broadband package is of a necessary standard, you may wish to opt for a business broadband service. Not only will you will receive better, business-specific customer support should anything go wrong, you may also be entitled to compensation should a disruption in service occur.
Familiarise yourself with the technology that you will be using during working hours. While this may seem like a common-sense move, a disruption could lose you a days’ worth of business, which is a dangerous prospect in the early stages of development.
Don’t Let Solitude Take Over
It is often hard to think of the negatives of running your business from home, especially if you have been crammed in a busy office for most of your working life. However, a serious drawback often overlooked is an overwhelming sense of loneliness.
If you on your own for the majority of the working day, make an effort to speak to clients or customers on the phone, rather than through e-mail. Alternatively, visit trade shows or industry events and network with like-minded people. This should not only expand your business audience but also relieve some of the feelings of isolation.
Take a Break
Just because you are running a business from the comforts of your own home, it doesn’t mean that you are available 24 hours a day. Take an hour for lunch, turn your computer off at 5:30 and don’t answer any inconsequential calls after hours.
Separating your work time from your leisure time can be hard when you are operating both in just one space. However, it is key to achieve the correct balance before you become a slave to your desk.
Prepare a Contingency Plan
Running a business from home isn’t for everyone. Have an alternative plan in place if you are struggling to motivate yourself in a comfortable environment. You may find that renting a desk in a nearby office pushes you to be more pro-active.
Additionally, if you feel that your business is expanding at an unexpected rate, you will need to have a contingency plan in case you require more work space for yourself and/or other employees.
Take the “Home Commute”
While the joys of starting your working day in your pyjamas sounds appealing to even the most astutely dressed worker, this habit can start spilling over into the rest of your working hours and can eventually be detrimental to your productivity.
You don’t have to approach your desk at 8:50am in a three-piece suit, but maybe take off the tracksuit bottoms and pull on some attire that wouldn’t look out of place in an office. It will make a significant difference.
Organize, Organize, Organize
Running a business from home will inevitably lead to a mountainous array of paperwork, especially if you are doing all administrative work in-house.
Ensure that you remain organized and tidy. Just because you are working from home, it shouldn’t mean that your desk looks like a bomb site. An organized work space is an especially pertinent requirement if you have any clients visiting.
Bring out those ugly filing cabinets and use them as you would in an office – it will solve plenty of headaches.