Do you want to have a business and work from home?
The idea of being your own boss and working from home is pretty attractive for many people. A home-based business can offer loads of flexibility.
Home businesses can suit people with family or other commitments, particularly mums who are reentering the workforce or looking for supplementary income while caring for children at home.
Home based businesses do however have their challenges.
Here are our top 5 must knows specific to starting a home business.
1. Work from anywhere, anyhow
Thanks to advances in technology, it’s becoming easier and more affordable than ever to work from anywhere. With a smartphone and internet connection you can tap into your business from anywhere.
You can use cloud or internet based software for everything from accounting to file sharing and video conferencing. Free programs such as Skype may become your best friend for communicating with people, or teams of people at a time. The best news is you can turn the video feature off if you’re having a ‘I’m working in my pyjamas day’ or hit that mute button when the 3-year-old decides to chase the cat with a light sabre – yes it happens.
2. Minimal overheads
If you are working from home you should have minimal overheads as you won’t have to fork out for buying, renting or fitting out premises.
You may also be able to claim some expenses such as portions of your electricity bill and telephone. Some people even ‘rent their home office’ to themselves but home office expenses can get extremely murky and result in capital gains tax in the future. You should speak to a tax accountant to find out what you can and should claim and what not to do. In Australia you can also consult the Australian Tax Office (ATO).
3. Regulations and restrictions
Working from home can be affected by local council and government regulations. Depending on your location and the nature and size of your business, you may need to obtain approvals to run your business, put up signage and you may need to consult your neighbours and make provisions for parking. You should check with your local authorities to determine what you need to do.
Additionally you need to consider insurance. Your current home and contents insurance policy may not cover your business and your equipment.
Plus you would need to obtain public liability insurance if you’re planning on having anyone connected to your business (customers, employees, contractors, suppliers) visit you at your home office. If you don’t have this insurance you will need to find an alternative place to meet such as a public cafe (which is not always a professional look).
You will need to consider other insurances as well.
4. You’re working from home!
So the worst thing about working from home, is that you’re working from home! That is, you’re never really leaving the office.
You can be very prone to distractions from family and friends. Even domestic duties can distract you from your work.
Additionally you can also fall into the trap of working long hours because your office is ‘just there’.
You must have clear boundaries in place for when you are and aren’t working and communicate these to the people around you. Stick to your boundaries. It also helps if your ‘workplace’ or desk is well away from other parts of the house. That is, it’s a space for working and nothing else. Ideally you don’t want to be set up at the dining table as this means it’s hard to separate home life from work life.
5. You need a network
Working from home by yourself can be isolating. You may miss that comradeship or buzz of working with others.
You will also miss the immediate ability of being able to bounce ideas off someone else (other than you cat or partner who probably isn’t interested in having anything bounced off them).
Create or find a network of likeminded individuals that you can call on or connect with on a regular basis so you can stay connected to your stakeholders, industry and sanity. You may like to join a networking group, meet up for coffees or even have a friend or mentor who you can call when needed.
So while running a home business is in many ways like any other business, it also has its quirks and perks. Know what these are and there should be plenty of ‘pyjama’ days ahead of you.