by Suzanne Shaw
Many start-ups literally begin at the kitchen table as first-time entrepreneurs are keen to minimise outgoings and concentrate everything they have on building their business.
There are many advantages to working from home. You can usually dictate your own schedule and there are lots of ways in which you can dramatically lower your outgoings with regard to rent, transport, communications and even your working wardrobe.
However, working from home does not suit everyone. You need to be a self-starter with buckets of discipline, resilience and motivation. You will find yourself wearing many hats; juggling time between clients and suppliers; actually doing the work; and, then there is the admin side to consider. Still yearning to scratch that entrepreneurial itch? If so, here are my top tips for anyone considering starting a business from home.
Adopt the right mind-set
Get the mind-set right from the beginning. You may be working from home but it does help to behave each day as if you are ‘going to the office’. Recreate an office atmosphere and invest in comfortable, professional equipment and furniture. Remember that expenses with regard to utilities, fixtures and fittings are tax deductible and a good accountant should be able to advise you in this regard.
Be your own supervisor
Establish designated work hours and try to stick to them. Set yourself a daily work schedule; a regular start time, breaks, and ‘home-time’. It’s common to find yourself working late, encroaching on you other home life and upsetting that hard won balance. It is vital to separate the two. At ‘home time’, switch off your laptop and close the door. Tomorrow is another day.
Communications on the move
Work is an activity not a location. By leveraging the latest mobile technology, it is easy enough to set up low cost, smart communications system that works for you, allowing you to flit from home to meetings and still keep an eye on calls and emails. You will quickly develop a mental list of your favourite coffee shops that offer free Wi-Fi. Check out low-cost or no-cost voice-over-IP tools such as Skype to ring, video call and message clients.
For those accustomed to a busy working environment, there is the risk of feeling isolated. Avoid this by taking advantage of every networking opportunity. Building and maintaining a professional network will take more effort now. Look for local business organisations and events that could present networking, training and promotional opportunities as well as a valuable social outlet. Join online networks such as LinkedIn and make sure you are making the most of your profile.
Find a mentor
A good mentor can add immeasurable value in terms of advice on areas such as strategy, financial planning, marketing and distribution. Better still; identify someone with specific experience in your sector or area of expertise. To ensure that you get the relationship right from the start, check that they have time available, agree objectives and establish an engagement process that works for both of you.
Keep on top of the paperwork
Paperwork can quickly become a mountain. Before becoming self-employed, you will need to consider issues such as insurance including professional indemnity, company registration and tax status. Find yourself a good accountant and they will inform you of all your responsibilities with regard to tax compliance and allowable expenses.
There are various motivations to joining the growing ranks of the self-employed. You may be thinking of taking a hobby to the next level, have spotted a gap in the market for a must-have product or you may be feeling unsatisfied in your current 9 to 5 role. Making the decision to start your own business can be scary and challenging. However, if you are up to the challenge and confident that you can be your own boss; starting your own business from home can be a rewarding and viable option. You will never know if you don’t take the leap!
About the author: Suzanne Shaw became a ‘homepreneur’ in 2014. An independent marketing professional with 20 years’ experience she provides advice and guidance on aspects of marketing, communications and business development strategies to range of sectors and businesses, from start-ups to SMEs to not-for-profits. Having picked up lots of useful hints and tips along the way, Suzanne is happy to share her insights. http://www.shawconsulting.ie