Ah the rush hour commute from bed to dining room table or the office in the spare bedroom. That’s saved a few trees in the process and the sun is shining to make matters better, but how easy is it to work from home. Here we look into it in more detail.
Running a business from home may sound idyllic. No rush-hour commute or business premises to pay for. But is it all it’s cracked up to be? Wendy Shand set up family holiday-let business Tots to Travel from her spare room in 2006. Within a few years turnover had sailed beyond the £1m mark. Here, she shares her invaluable list of dos and don’ts on running a business from home.
“Everyone needs human interaction during the day. When I was first setting up the business, I used to get ridiculous amounts of pleasure from going to pick the kids up from nursery – I’d collar anyone for a chat! But it’s more useful to link into a community of like-minded people who are running start-ups”. One good networking hub for mums, for example, is Mumsnet.
Don’t do the washing up
“There’s always stuff that needs doing round the house. If it’s not the ironing, then it’s the washing up/Hoovering/gardening. But, if you want to run a business from home, you have to prioritise. It’s much easier if you have a space in your house where you can shut yourself away and close the doors on all the chores. I used to work in our spare room and now I’ve got an office – a deluxe shed – in the garden.”
Do dress for business
“During a working day I make an effort to dress smartly. I don’t wear a suit, but I’ll put on a smart skirt, a blouse and a necklace. Dressing that way makes me feel like a professional who’s doing something with her life, and it puts me in the right frame of mind.”
Don’t work all night
“Running your own business from home means it’s very easy to work late every night, especially if you take time off during the day. But it’s not good for you and it’s not good for the business. You end up so tired your brain can’t function properly. I make it a rule not to work later than 9pm.. That way, I always have time to unwind before I go to bed.”
Do enjoy being at home
“It is a privilege to be able to work from home, so I try and make the most of it. When I have a break I go and sit on a wall in my garden with a cup of tea or, in the morning, when I could otherwise be commuting, I go to a Pilates or yoga class. Enjoy the fact that working from home lets you live a more balanced life.”
Don’t take on everything
“When you can afford to, start outsourcing. With Tots to Travel, I knew there was no way I was going to be able to build my own website, so I got someone to do that. And I quickly handed over my PR to someone else. I’ve learned that the more I hand over, the more time I have to work on the overall strategy for the business and keep it dynamic.”
Do get a mentor
“It’s so worthwhile investing in a mentor, especially when you’re working on your own. There are companies who provide mentors for a fee and if you possibly can build that service into your costs. You need someone you have a rapport with and whose commercial acumen you respect. My mentor is a multi-millionaire who’s grown several successful businesses. He’s taught me loads and pushed me to go beyond my comfort zone.”
Don’t criticise yourself
“When you’re working in a bubble on your own, it’s easy to obsess over the stuff that isn’t going well, rather than looking at how far you’ve come. I used to scold myself and say: ‘You’ve achieved nothing today.’ That’s miserable. You need to be your biggest cheerleader, not your harshest critic.”
Depending on the nature of your business, you may need to speak to the following people:
•Mortgage provider / landlord – to check whether your home can be used as a workplace.
•Insurer – to check whether you have sufficient cover.
•Accountant – to check with us if there are any tax implications. You might also have a look at the Revenue’s website.
•The Valuation Office – to check whether you will be charged business rates.
•Health and Safety Executive – to check whether there are any health and safety risks.
•Local authority – if the use of your building changes a lot or will have an effect on where you live, you may need to apply for planning permission.
Any property used as security, which may include your home, may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.