Editors Note: Working from home in your own small business home office offers tremendous advantages including actually being able to be employed when time, mobility, and/or resources are limited.
However, it is very important to the work at home small business owner to set up routines and avoid the pitfalls that many other small business owners have come across.
When Working From Home...
by: Christoph Puetz
A home-based business has a lot of advantages over the traditional 9-5 office system, and most web hosting businesses seem to be run out of an home office. However, working from home could mean that you might lose the structure and schedule of a normal office environment. We collected a few tips and tricks to keep you on track.
Kick Start Your Day
How you start off will determine how you end up! Begin your day with some positive thinking, do some workout (running, ride your bike) to get your head cleared out, have a healthy breakfast of reasonable size (too much food makes you tired again), take a shower, and then get started on your work day.
Develop A Work Schedule
Working at home will come with it a lot of flexibility and freedom. However, you need to be careful that you don't misuse it. You are now your own boss, so act as if you ARE the boss! Work out strict time schedules -and stick to it. Plan out all the all the tasks you would like to get accomplished in your day, and make sure that you achieve your target. If you are not disciplined enough it will come back and haunt you.
Love Your Work
Make sure that the work you do is something you really enjoy doing. To be successful in this business, you need to be really passionate about your work. Don't fall into the trap of thinking that because you have a background in web hosting and the experience in this field, that this will be a breeze. Learn to recognize what will motivate you, what will excite you - and build your business based on that spirit.
If you are afraid to check the status of your servers and email every morning and it is giving you a weird feeling in your stomach you should eventually consider a different career.
One sure sign of knowing that you really love your work is to get that motivating and relaxed feeling when you wake up every morning. Of course, you're going to have your good days and your bad days at the office - but a strong enthusiasm for your work ensures that you'll end up having more good days than bad days at the office.
Have a Real Home Office
Running your business from your bedroom is really not the best idea. You should have a separate area to work from. This could be a second bedroom in your apartment or a finished basement in your house. If that is not possible (e.g. you live in a one-bedroom apartment, you will have to work around it - especially if you do not live alone. A Spanish wall and a real desk will eventually give you a little 'room'.
Make sure you keep an office a priority when moving one day. If you already have enough space and a separate office, furnish it accordingly. I personally use a kitchen countertop board as my desk. It goes from wall to wall across the room. It is deeper than a regular desk and I have plenty of space for everything. Having space can be a key. It is easier to find tools, manuals, or documentation. I can reach the printer and the cable router easily and the fax is also just 'around the corner'.
Establish that "you are at work"
Imagine you are at work in your home office and your wife or kids come into the room every 5 minutes. As nice as it is to have them around - often you need to make sure that they understand that you are working. You cannot just run down to the grocery store to buy diapers or milk real quick. You are at work. Or did your boss at your old place of employment did let you go to the grocery store 'real quick'? Probably not.
You might feel like munching while you work, and that's one of the benefits of not working in a conservative corporate environment, right? However, be sure that you do not have to leave your office for everything. A journey through the house in search of food might lead to a detour or two to check up on what the kids are doing. 5 minutes here and there can add up really fast. Remember - you want to be productive.
Family Time OutThis one might seem a very difficult initially - but keep your work time separate from your family time. Of course, one of the prime reasons of you opening your home-based business was probably to spend time with family. However, your business is serious business, and needs some serious time too!
The great thing is - you can often work around family things. Seeing your son playing soccer in the afternoon can be rewarding and it makes the work at night easier to handle. Most parents will miss a lot of their kids activities because they have to work in an office downtown.