Working from home has become pretty common over the last decade. The growth of the internet, cloud technology, and mobile devices has made it practical and cost-effective.
But what about running a business from home? Is it a good idea?
The Challenges of Running Your Business From Home
There’s no sense in sugarcoating the topic. Running a business out of your house presents numerous challenges. Issues that are commonly encountered include:
- Restrictions. It’s not always legal to run certain businesses out of your home. This is especially true in residential neighborhoods with HOAs that have documented guidelines, restrictions, and covenants.
- Distractions. Distractions exist regardless of where you run your business, but you’ll find them to be particularly strong at home. Whether it’s the TV, chores, children, or neighbors, you’ll have to proactively deal with these issues.
- Street address. When you work from home, the address of your personal residence will serve as the address of your personal business. There are some workarounds – such as P.O. boxes – but you’ll have to go through some additional steps to put forth a professional image.
- Space limitations. Unless you live in a sprawling mansion with lots of unused square footage, you may find space to be an issue. This is especially common for home-based businesses that keep physical inventory on hand.
- Work-life balance. Everyone wants work-life balance these days. But part of this balance is establishing some separation between the two. Running a business from home makes this difficult to accomplish.
4 Tips to Help You Succeed
Running a business from home isn’t always easy, but it’s still a practical option for entrepreneurs who want flexibility and low overhead. You just have to be smart about how you approach it. The following tips may help:
1. Establish a Workspace
“Whether your office is an entire room or just a tiny corner of your apartment, you can organize it in a way that helps you overcome the challenges of working from home,” entrepreneur Bryn Huntpalmer points out.
Your workspace should be private, comfortable, convenient, and spacious. It’s also nice if you have natural light and design elements that spark creativity and joy. With these factors in play, you’re far more likely to enjoy your work and find it fulfilling.
2. Get the Right Tools
As any carpenter knows, you’re only as good as the tools you have on hand. As a business owner, supplying yourself with the right tools can make all the difference in the world. Here are some things to consider:
- Reliable internet. Don’t take your internet service for granted. Running a business from home requires fast, reliable access. Find out which internet providers service your area and compare them to each other.
- Digital filing system. Proper organization can mean the difference between building a sustainable business and ending up in legal trouble. A cloud-based filing system like GoCo.io can help you collect, organize, and manage things like compliance documentation, records, employee documents, supplier contracts, and HR files.
- Phone service. Do you spend a lot of time on the phone with prospects, clients, suppliers, and business partners? You’ll need a reliable phone service that’s separate from your personal cell or landline. An advanced VoIP system can help you out.
3. Talk With Your Neighbors
It’s always a smart idea to keep neighbors up to date on what you’re doing (within reason). They’re far less likely to complain about something if you’ve been up front and honest. In fact, many people like when a neighbor works from home, as it can deter criminal activity.
4. Get Out of the House
Finally, make sure you build time into your daily schedule to get out of the house. Whether it’s lunch at a nearby cafe, an afternoon trip to the gym, or evenings out with friends, you’ll find it refreshing to change up your environment for brief periods of time.
Learn and Adapt
Running a business is all about learning as you go and responding to the challenges, frustrations, and opportunities that you’re presented with. It doesn’t matter whether the business is in your garage or on the 92nd floor of a downtown skyscraper – you have to learn to adapt. If you go in with this mindset, you’ll be fine.