Over the years I have assisted over a 100 budding entrepreneurs as they developed their businesses using their home office as their first base. Those were heady and exciting times, both for me as I learned about their businesses and for them as they ventured out into the marketplace with their products and services. We discussed five essentials, among others, as foundational for adjusting to their home office. They were important then and they are just as important now if you are thinking about establishing or have already established a home-based business.
Discipline: I encourage you to review your disciplinary practices. Just as there are distractions at a external office setting – people interrupting you, desktop messes, noise, emails, shifting priorities, you get the picture – there are distractions in the home setting – television programs, social media, friendly telephone calls, poor priority setting, a neighbor dropping by for a coffee, and desktop messes to name a few. I have often said that sometimes it takes more discipline to operate a business from home than from an external office. At home there are no supervisors or minders watching you and urging you on to better perform. At home you are the leader-manager in charge. It is completely up to you. Your performance or lack there of falls completely on your shoulders. And to perform well you need discipline to:
Take Breaks: You can get lost in your work especially if you feel you are on a roll and ideas are flowing and tasks are getting accomplished. However, a huge mistake that home-office practitioners make is not taking nutrition or energy producing breaks. What I mean by ‘energy producing breaks’ are breaks that take you away from what you are doing at the moment and giving your mind some rest time. Energy producing breaks include going for a quick walk, tending to a household chore, taking a five-minute meditation break, or fueling up with an energy bar or a dish of fruit. The point here is the need to break from your office work and focus on something else for short periods of time. This gives your brain rest and up ticks your over all energy. Research suggests that 90 minutes of concentrated effort and then a ten or fifteen break produces more in the long run and contributes to alleviating burnout.
Separate Office: It’s important that you find office space for yourself and your business. This is somewhere in the home or apartment that you can call your office. For some this is initially on the dining table or in a bedroom. The point here is that you need a space to conduct your business, where you can keep all the important stuff related to your business. For some that means a place for your computer, paper, envelopes, books and whatever else is needed; for others who claim they are completely mobile - everything they need is on their mobile device – that means they also need someplace within their home to call their specific office space. To those who fall into the latter category I have yet to find a serious business person who has everything on their mobile. If you cannot find a space within your home, consider the growing number of co-op offices that are popping up where business owners can rent a desk or small office at a reasonable rate.
Network: Working from home can be a lonely and isolating experience. We know that business grow based on relationships. In order to build relationships we need to be in contact with people. Simply stated we do this is by getting out of the house or apartment and meeting customers and colleagues in the field. It is important to expand relationship building reach by joining a professional association, a business network association such as Chamber of Commerce, a women or men’s business network, a service association such as Rotary and Kiwanis International, or becoming active in your faith-based community. Getting involved in outside activity helps you build necessary relationships and provides a social outlet that you would not experience by keeping yourself isolated in your home office.
Administration: One of the things I heard most often from home-based business owners was their push-back on administrative tasks. This is one area where procrastination was the word of the hour. Administration is often seen as an afterthought, but not paying attention to the detail that administration asks of you, may cause serious difficulties in the long run. Take for example not paying attention to outstanding bills, up-dating client information, attending to customer invoicing, or submitting due taxes. In the long run not doing due diligence on these matters costs you money, affects your cash-flow or impacts your customer relations. So before procrastinating on administrative tasks think about the loss of income, customers and cash-flow. Three important ingredients for a successful business.
Thank you for reading
Richard P. Fontanie