Today more and more people are either starting businesses from home or moving their established companies into a home office. Saving on office rent, cutting back on commute times and having more time with the family are just some of the reasons you might decide on working from home. But it’s not as simple shutting off a bedroom and telling folks to leave you alone. Here are some steps that the experts who have “been there and done that” say you need to do to get ready to work from home.
Before you put out the first office chair, talk to your local zoning board to be sure your home is zoned for business operation. This is especially important if you’ll be having clients visit, if you’ll be shipping products from your home, or if you’re doing anything else that could cause traffic, noise or otherwise indicate you’re running a business from your home.
Make sure you have a dedicated space for your business, it doesn’t matter if it’s an extra bedroom, your basement or a guest house. You must be able to shut your door and get some quiet time to focus. But, if the only place you can work is on the dining room table, then you’ll have to adapt. As an alternative, many places now offer free WiFi, including coffee shops, restaurants, bookstores, and your local library.
You will need your own computer (not the family laptop), a dedicated phone line, and tools like a scanner/printer/fax machine. Other productivity aids include a smartphone, laptop or notebook. Technology is your friend, it has enabled home-based entrepreneurs to be more efficient, professional and organized. So when you’re setting up your operation, be very prepared to spend what you need to get the most up-to-date equipment available. Although this is not always possible when starting a new business on a shoestring, anything you have to buy new should be the most advanced that you can afford, that way you might not wind up buying the one you really needed six months later.
One of the best trends to start in the last few years is the virtual assistant. A home-based entrepreneur can get help without someone coming into their home. Virtual assistants can handle the smaller tasks of your business, leaving you time to concentrate on making it grow.
Call a “Big-Time Family Meeting”, to make sure everyone is on board with your new hours and rules of operation. It’s easy to get distracted by family, friends and neighbors when you work at home. Make sure everybody takes you seriously and knows your schedule to avoid mix-ups like kids barging in while you’re on an important phone call.