When starting any kind of home business, there are certain steps to take and guidelines that every entrepreneur should abide by in order to be successful. The most important thing is to develop a business plan and stick to it! Even though you may have the business plan in your head, you will be amazed at how clear things become and how many things you find you have to work through when you start to put it all down on paper.
Building a business at home can work great, but it also requires a tremendous amount of discipline. Home based businesses have a large number of advantages, but there are real dangers as well. Without proper safeguards, it is very easy to become sidetracked, lose your focus, and begin a pattern of behavior that is self-destructive to your business goals.
"Work from home" goals vary but often include a necessity of being available in a family capacity, a lack of ability to get to or work in an office environment, schedule flexibility, and economy.
Home based businesses are cheap to run as there are none of the traditional office expenses such as rent, utilities, and the duplication of equipment that you already have at home such as a computer and office furniture.
Then danger comes when you allow yourself to be interrupted unnecessarily or lack the discipline to put in the necessary hours because other things are pressing are also around you. People work well in the 9-5 environment because they know that the end of their day happens at 5 PM and everything must be done within that timeframe. Home businesses are not so challenged and it's easy to put off that necessity until after 5, simply because you can.
Structuring your home office
To avoid some of these pitfalls, consider the following tips:
Designate a piece of your home as your business office, preferably a room that you can close off when you are working to avoid unnecessary interruptions, but also that you can close off when you are done and not face it during the rest of your life.
Try not to use this office space for other things such as socializing, as a gym/rec room, or put a television in there. These can distract you and leave this space feeling non-business. You want every minute that you are in this part of the office to be productive.
Treat and demand that your office space be treated with the same dignity that a similar business office would be treated if not in your home. Kids playing on your computer, playing in the office, or allowing it to be treated as a phone room sanctuary for teems is a bad idea. It WILL limit and interfere with your work time. Both you and your family must respect this area as "work-space". Never mind rationalizing it, it simply works this way and it is far easier to start out with these concepts than to develop them later.
Keep your own business phone and have a dedicated line run into your office. The last thing you need is to have kids picking up the phone and start to dial or a kids computer modem trying to connect when you are trying to talk to a client.
Set home business hours
Many people start home businesses because they want schedule flexibility. Yet people work best when they are on a schedule. These two concepts can run into conflict of you let them. Set up standard office hours and keep them except for when necessary.
The biggest difficulty that most home business owners face is simply to say "No, not now!" It's so easy to say yes and it only makes sense that since flexibility is what you want, the right answer is to give in. Wrong answer. Instead, it should be that you can change the schedule, but only when needed.