What to Consider When Running Your Business out of Your Home by Lexie
Many successful businesses began at home, including Apple. Running a business out of your home saves you on overhead expenses and allows you to feel comfortable when you’re just getting started. If you want to know if it’s right for you, begin by considering the nature of the business. A virtual assistant job doesn’t require clients to come to your home, but a small pop-up store would. The latter may also violate local zoning laws.
There are approximately 30.7 million small businesses in the United States. Firms with fewer than 100 employees make up the most significant number, at just under 20 million businesses. Starting small often means starting on a tight budget, so running your business out of your home in the early days makes sense.
However, there are some things you should consider before deciding whether a home-based business is right for you or whether you should try another path. Here are eight things to look at that are pros and cons of working from home.
1. Find the Tax Write-Offs
If you’re lucky enough to have a dedicated room in your home that you use as office space exclusively for work, you may be able to take a home office tax deduction. Keep in mind, however, that if you claim more than a certain amount over a period of years, you may have to pay part of that money back.
Consult with a good CPA or tax attorney to find out the current tax laws and discuss your options with a financial advisor to make sure you aren’t saving money today only to lose out on money in the future.
2. Seek Out New Customers
When you don’t have a storefront, it may be a little more challenging to take advantage of foot traffic and to meet with clients. If your neighbors wouldn’t appreciate random cars driving into the neighborhood, there may be limitations on how often you can have people to your home. One option is to rent shared space only when you need it, such as a set day per week that you meet with clients. A temporary office allows you to work from home the majority of the time but still present a professional meeting place.
There are many ways to seek new clients, such as sponsoring a local sports team. Host an event to get the word out about your business. Set up a booth at a local craft fair.
3. Improve the Air Quality
The air quality in your home can directly impact your productivity. Wintertime air is much drier than the air in the warmer months and it may lead to sinus headaches and discomfort. There are several ways to improve your overall air quality, including adding house plants or humidifiers and even just opening up some windows and doors on a mild day and letting the stale air out and the fresh air in.
4. Eliminate Distractions
Working from home is challenging for some because there are numerous distractions. If you have a family, they may tromp through your office space just as you take that urgent call with your biggest client. Pets, well-meaning family and friends and even housework can all interrupt the flow of your day.
Be intentional about your work hours. Inform your family when you’ll be working and that unless someone is bleeding to death, you don’t want any interruptions. Don’t take personal calls during business hours.
5. Manage Your Time Efficiently
Researchers from Stanford University discovered that those who multitask frequently may become worse at focusing on a single task. You essentially train your brain to be distracted, meaning you’re less productive overall.
In a previous study at York University, people who regularly multitasked scored 11% worse in tests than people who did not. Expanding on the study, neuroscientists scanned the brains of people who self-identified as multitaskers and found they had lower gray matter density in the anterior cortex and thus decreased cognitive performance.
What does this mean to you as a small business owner? Stop trying to do everything yourself and stop jumping from one task to another. Focus on one thing at a time, check it off your to-do list and move on. Don’t be afraid to delegate some of the work. Sites such as Fiverr and Elance offer one-off services you can farm out. You could also hire a virtual assistant to help with some things.
6. Study Local Laws
Some local laws and ordinances don’t allow you to run a business out of your home or they may put certain limitations on it. If you have neighborhood covenants, there may be other restrictions. For example, if you run a mail-order business and get and send out daily deliveries, this might be distracting to your neighbors.
Of course, a lot depends on the products or services you offer. Figure out whether you can start the type of business you want out of your home before spending money setting up space.
7. Take a Personality Inventory
Do you have the right mindset to become an entrepreneur? If not, you can develop one. Successful business owners have an attitude of refusing to give up. When their business tanks, they hit the streets and drum up new business. When a competitor springs up and takes some of their customers, they add new services and focus on creating customer loyalty programs.
Some skills you’ll need as a small home business owner include organization, determination and communication. If you lack in any of the skills required, take online or community college courses and build your aptitude in those areas.
8. Create a Financial Strategy
Just because you didn’t have to take out a big loan to buy a building and get started doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a strategy like a business in deep debt has. Write out your marketing plan and your business plan. Know how much growth you’d like to see the first month, the first quarter and the first year. Study what has made other entrepreneurs in your area successful — and seek out a mentor if at all possible.
Is a Home Business Right for You?
If you have a passion for performing a certain type of service and it makes sense to start doing it from the comfort of home, then it’s the right choice for you. Whether you start your business in your spare time while working a full-time job or you throw all your effort into getting it off the ground, the key is coming up with a plan. With a lot of determination and a bit of luck, you’ll turn your small home business into an operation employing dozens of people and beyond.
Lexie is a UX content strategist and web designer. She enjoys copious amounts of coffee (with a dash of milk) and walking her golden doodle. Subscribe to her design blog, Design Roast, and follow her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.
Want more? Tune into this episode called START UP SUCCESS SECRETS on OYP Radio!