How to run a business from the comfort of your home

Starting up

17 October 2018

Boasting perks such as no commute, the power to be your own boss, and the flexibility to fit family commitments around your working life, it’s little wonder that 4 in 5 of Brits have aspired to kickstart their own businesses.

But beyond business plans and bags of enthusiasm, what things should you keep in mind when your home is the heart of your business? Here, we run through some tips and tricks to keep in mind to help your home-based business run with its best foot forward.

Setting up: equipment and insurance

From a reliable phone and fast internet connection to a laptop and printer, all businesses need basic equipment to exist – some of the costs of which can be claimed back as allowable expenses. But regardless if you’re offering customers a professional service as a personal trainer, photographer or plumber, it’s wise for every aspiring business to invest in occupation-specific business insurance – as well as public liability insurance and professional indemnity insurance - to help protect the hard work you put in from the get-go.

Finding space: creating a home office

When considering how you can convert aspects of your home to suit your business, it pays to be creative. Should you convert the cupboard under the stairs into a compact office, or will a laptop on the kitchen table suffice? If you’re selling goods online, an accessible and damp-free storage area, like a garage, could be an ideal location to store them prior to purchase.

Whatever your decision, make sure that you can concentrate and take calls in your new-found office without the prospect of being too easily distracted. Remember, you may have business clients visiting your home from time to time so ensure there’s available parking visitors can use (if necessary), access to a toilet, and a safe route through your home to your office.

DIY or engaging professionals

It’s wise to consider if your business should employ an accountant or whether can you manage your own books with software like QuickBooks. The latter may save you money, but the advice of an accountant could be invaluable to helping you keep a keen eye on business costs.

Do you need an extra helping hand with your business’ website, social media or marketing? You could potentially reap the benefits if you invest in additional professional services to get your business known. Make sure to weigh up the costs to see if outsourcing this work would be a savvy investment for your business. It may free up some of your time, letting you focus on strengthening other aspects of your business, but it could be more suitable for you to adopt a DIY approach when it comes to building your business’ website via easy-to-use software available through Wix.

Managing family life

One of the attractions of running your business from home is having more flexibility to juggle work and family life. However, you should think through how you’ll manage school holidays, sick days and evenings with your work commitments.

Pitching for a new contract while small children demand attention is not easy. Can you call upon family support, use a holiday club, or reduce your working hours during holidays to compensate? Plenty of forward planning could help you manage your business demands around family commitments.

Networking 

Many people running their businesses from home may find themselves missing face-to-face communication. A great way to overcome this could be to tap into local business networks to meet other self-employed people, joining online webinars, forums and LinkedIn groups to connect with likeminded individuals, or getting in contact with your local Chamber of Commerce.

A professional mentor can be hugely beneficial in the early stages of a business as they can share the lessons they’ve learned through their own experiences and introduce you to a network of professionals relevant to your business. Why not try MentorsMe to find someone in your field and location and see what you can learn?

Working from home may mean those ‘water cooler’ moments in the office are gone but there are still plenty of opportunities to network like the best of them.

Managing workload

When you’re just starting out as a new business, you may be reluctant to turn down any work – no matter how demanding the workloads and deadlines become. As your business matures and you gain a deeper understanding of the workflow of your business, it could be worth engaging a virtual PA for background support and to help prioritise your workload during busy periods.

There’s nothing wrong with looking in-demand and it’s ok to say no to work during busy spells. It’s better to ensure that you have the time to invest fully in a client rather than taking on a project purely to appease them when you’re too busy.

Set yourself achievable goals each day as aiming to do too much can make your workload seem insurmountable and knock your confidence when things get on top off you. Try to be proactive with your quieter spells, which could be ideal opportunities to spend time honing your marketing strategies, social media campaigns and online presence.

Keeping motivated

Avoid motivational dips and procrastination by creating a schedule that maximises time for work, housework and relaxation. Try to set yourself working hours if possible, and if you have a dedicated work space, shut the door or pack up at 'home time'.

Sunny days can be tricky. Can you follow a Mediterranean pattern by taking a break during afternoon siesta time and pick up where you left off in the evening? Find a routine that maximises work and play and stick to it.

Looking after yourself

We get it, it can be hard to switch off. However, all work and no play isn’t good for your family, your clients or your mental and physical wellbeing.

Take advantage of your more flexible lifestyle to have lunch with friends or visit the gym when it’s quiet. You work hard to make your business a success, so making the most of your leisure time to enjoy your friends and family is a necessity. And most important of all: don’t feel guilty about your well-deserved downtime.

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