Working from the comfort of your home can be a big bonus when you set up your business. Not only will you avoid a commute and in-office distractions, you can boost productivity by setting your own schedule. Of course, there are a few drawbacks like difficulty protecting your personal time and feeling isolated. Use this list as a guide to help set you up for success when running a business from home.
1. Create a Good (and Productive) Work Environment
Are you on the keyboard looking at a monitor for hours at a time? Take steps now to make sure you don’t face neck pain, back pain, or sore wrists and fingers. Correct chair height, adequate equipment spacing, and good posture can help you and your joints stay comfortable when you put in long hours.
The Mayo Clinic has a short and sweet guide that shows proper positioning of chairs, computer components and more here: Office ergonomics: Your how-to guide.
2. Monitor Overhead
Even though you’re saving money on rent, your expenses can add up. Keep an eye on the money you spend on technology, equipment, or utilities. Even your office furnishings can set you back, so shop for décor with an eye on the price.
For more costs that could cut into your budget, check out this article from the Penny Hoarder Blog: Want to Work from Home? Better Think About These Hidden Costs First.
3. Create a Team of Experts
Entrepreneurs are a creative bunch! However, launching and running a business is complex and most business owners don’t have each and every skill needed. Although you’re running a home office lean and mean, be sure to have freelancers or contractors on hand. That might include hiring an outside computer tech to help set up and run operations, working with a CPA, bringing on board a social media consultant, etc. Focus on your areas of expertise and strength.
Trying to tackle a task without any knowledge can be a huge time and resource waster. The SmartBiz Blog has guides you can use to find the right professional to support your business:
- Should Your Small Business Hire a PR Professional or DIY?
- Small Business Marketing Tip: How to Hire a Social Media Strategist
- How to Hire an Accountant for Your Small Business
4. Try Not to Isolate
If you work in a traditional office setting, you likely have co-workers who you’ve become friendly with. It’s healthy to swap weekend stories, discuss the latest Netflix series, and go out to lunch together. However, if you work from home, you might be missing out on those interactions and feeling lonely. Some solid strategies to fight off feelings of loneliness and isolation include working from a café or a shared office space, making lunch plans with others who work from home, making time to get to the gym, or fostering relationships via a Meetup.com group.
For more tips about how to get out there and network, review this article from the SmartBiz blog. Networking isn’t just a way to stave off isolation, it can help promote your business and build sales. Build Your Small Business Network.
5. Dress Like You Are Working in an Office
If you are simply rolling out of bed and working in your pajamas, you don’t have a clear distinction between your professional and personal life. Separating the two is key. An easy way to do this is with the way you dress. We’re not staying put on a suit or a dress with heels. Just have outfits that you designate for “work”. Getting up and getting dressed will help you stick to a schedule and feel more accomplished. For additional reasons, check out this 2019 article from the Ladders blog: Why dressing for work at your home office is important.
6. Set a Schedule
Even if you don’t have a traditional 9 – 5 work day, you should still have a schedule. That includes a set time to get up, a time to start working, scheduled breaks and lunch, and a stop time. One strategy is to schedule around your internal clock, if possible. If you’re not a morning person, give yourself a later start time. If you’re a night owl, schedule time to work when you feel the most productive. Setting alarms and reminders on your phone can also help you stay on track. To get started, track your time for a week and see where you can improve your schedule.
7. Protect Your Personal Time
One of the downfalls of running a business from home is that the line between professional and personal time can blur. An easy way to “unplug” is to resolve not to answer your business phone outside of work hours. And if you don’t have to work on the weekends, treat those as sacred. You’ll be refreshed and ready to work when you do get to your desk. Your sanity will be saved and your family grateful.
Before you even set up your office, make sure that your insurance needs are covered. Some business owners think that having home insurance will suffice, as it can protect both their homes and their business. This is a common mistake. Review this post from the SmartBiz Blog to learn more about business operations insurance: What Home-Based Business Owners Need to Know About Insurance.
Finally, it can be tricky but there is a home office deduction that you can take. If you’re a small business owner who could be taking this deduction but you aren’t, you’re missing out on a great money-saving opportunity.
That said, there are still some pitfalls, so our post goes over the ins and outs of claiming home office IRS tax deductions: How to Take the Home Office Tax Deduction.