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The Green Sheet Online Edition

July 28, 2014 • Issue 14:07:02

Working from home

By Vicki M. Daughdrill
Small Business Resources LLC

Are you ready to forego the daily commute and traditional eight-to-five routine and start a home-based business? There are many reasons to transition from working in a conventional office to working from home. This evolution can change your life. In addition to the rewards of becoming an entrepreneur, you can also earn an excellent living. But is working from home right for you?

Here are some pros for working from home.

  • Flexibility: You are free to do as you please when you please, and you can work in shorts and a T-shirt or your pajamas if you choose.
  • Commute: You no longer have to allow time or maintain transportation to commute to the office. Some surveys indicate you can save as much as $5,000 per year on gasoline by choosing to work from home.
  • Schedule: You set your own schedule, and you can save on expenses by being at home with children or seniors.
  • Creativity: Your inspiration can be stimulated when working in your own home surrounding. You can take time to think and be creative without answering to anyone who may think you are not utilizing your time properly.
  • Control: You control your workspace and everything that goes on around you. You manage the amount of chaos, the volume of noise and the number of people who visit your office.
  • Tax savings: You can claim a certain portion of your household expenses as a tax write off, including the mortgage, insurance and utilities when you have a home office. However, you must repay these write-offs when you sell the home.

Here are some cons for working from home:

  • Time management: You must be able to take charge of your schedule, organize your day's activities, prioritize your work demands and measure your successes.
  • Discipline: You must be able to discipline yourself to be sure the work is completed in a timely manner. It is extremely easy to put work off until tomorrow while you watch CNN, start a load of clothes or play a round of golf.
  • Boundaries: You must be able to set clear boundaries between work and home for friends, family and colleagues.
  • Perception: You must understand that some people undervalue work performed at home as not "real" work or as unskilled.
  • Isolation: You must realize that when you work alone from home, you do not have the interaction with colleagues as sounding boards, creative stimulators or idea generators.
  • Communication: You must acknowledge that while telephone, email, and text messaging are outstanding communication tools, nothing beats a face-to-face visit with a colleague, client or customer.
Owning your own business and working from home require different skills from those needed to work in a traditional office. Here are some tips to help you transition from a traditional office environment to working from home.
  • Create a designated office space within your home. Select a space where you will enjoy working. Be sure it has a door that can be closed during and after office hours.
  • Establish set office hours each day and maintain this schedule as much as possible. When you have a structured schedule, you work more efficiently and can enjoy time away from the office because you have completed the tasks you set. Unfortunately, isolation and overwork are frequent complaints from people who work at home. By taking control of your work schedule, allowing time for lunch with colleagues or friends, and participating in professional organizations and activities, you can minimize the isolation and tendency to overwork.
  • Equip your office as you would an office outside your home. You will need a desk and chair, designated telephone line, computer, printer scanner, fax machine, filing cabinets, storage solutions and any other business equipment and supplies needed. You do not want to have to run to the office supply store to print a job proposal. Working on the dining room table or a corner of the family room is not conducive to long-term success.
  • Consider a post office box for your professional address rather than your home address.
  • Without a storefront, your image is all that you have. Be sure your website, brochures, marketing materials, proposals and quotes all have a professional appearance.
  • Close the door to your office when you are working to minimize household sounds such as barking dogs or crying children.
  • Consider a dedicated telephone line for your office, and answer the telephone in a professional manner so people know they have called your office.
  • If clients or customers will come into your home, check with your insurance agent to be sure you have sufficient insurance in case of an accident.

Leaving the traditional work force and opening your own business requires courage, tenacity, dedication and discipline. Basing your business from home requires even more tenacity and discipline. By planning thoughtfully and preparing fully, you will have a great chance at success. Good luck! end of article

Vicki M. Daughdrill is the Managing Member of Small Business Resources LLC, a management consulting company. E-mail her at vickid@netdoor.com or call her at 601-310-3594.

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