According to SBA.gov, more than half of U.S. businesses are home-based. I own one of them, so I know both the benefits and the challenges of working from home. In the hopes that I can be helpful to other small business owners, here are some things I’ve learned over the years.
- Set aside space in your home for work. A separate room or building works best, especially if you have other family members at home during your working hours. Minimizing distractions will increase your productivity and decrease the amount of time you must spend working.
- Make your office space pleasant, because you’ll be spending significant time there. Decorate it the way you like, use ergonomic furniture to maximize your comfort and productivity. Add motivational and/or inspirational artwork if you feel it will be beneficial.
- Establish regular office hours, and firmly ask family and friends to honor those hours. There’s a tendency on their part to think, because you work from home, you’re available to family and friends all the time. But frequent interruptions can drain productivity, meaning you have to spend more time in your home office to get your tasks finished. Those same interruptions can also lead to mistakes in your work.
- During those office hours, decide what time of day you are in top form, and reserve that time every workday for focusing on your more intense tasks. Use the remainder of the work day to do things like return phone calls and answer emails.
- Use automation and outsourcing as much as possible to minimize the amount of time you must spend on administrative or management tasks. The cost of tech hardware and applications can be justified if it allows you to spend more time growing your business and, therefore, your income.
- Never give out your home address as your business address. Instead, get a post office box, an address at the UPS store (for example), or an address with a virtual mail service such as Virtual Post Mail or Traveling Mailbox. I know several home-based business owners who gave out their home address, only to find themselves in scary stalking/harassment situations.
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