Imagine the luxury of working out of your home. When you are speaking to clients or on a conference call you are wearing a bathrobe and slippers. Sound tempting? Although your clients will not know that you are working from home, it is important that you are committed to professionalism while working from home.
Here are some easy steps to set up a professional home-office:
• Legalize it.
Check with local zoning to learn about the zoning regulations in your area. Your business may require permits, licensing and forms that need to be filed.
• Working from home takes a lot of discipline.
Separate work time from home time. Set the hours for your workday and try to stick to them.
• Create a professional Image.
Set up you home office as if you were working in an office downtown. Rent a post office box and use that address instead of your home address on business cards and stationery. Install separate phone lines for the business with a professional voice mail system so that when you are on the phone a client can leave a message instead of getting a busy signal or having call waiting which interrupts calls.
• Create a “real office” Design your workspace according to your work style.
Make it quiet, comfortable and organized. Place what you use most, close to you. Make sure you have plenty of space for files, forms and reference materials. Create a workspace that helps you concentrate. Determine a space that works best for you in an environment that you can work in.
• Prepare a daily “to do” list.
Think about all the things that need to get done. This will help you set priorities, and allocate appropriate amounts of time for short and long term projects. The things that do not get done that day can be carried to the next day.
• Establish contacts.
It’s who you know. Don’t become isolated in your home business. One of the benefits to working in a corporation is the team work and supportive structure. But you can achieve this on your own by making an extra effort to meet people that can provide business support by joining a trade association, chamber of commerce and local professional associations where you can network and get leads. Clients will refer clients to you, make an effort to get involved in the community so that people know you and what you do.
• Keep careful records.
It is important to keep records of all work related expenses. Contact your Accountant to help you set up your books and advise you on the percentage of your home expenses that can be written off as a business expense. Always document your business expenses by keeping excellent records so that you can claim the deductions.
• Discipline yourself.
With so many distractions at home you need to be strictly disciplined to get any work done. Allocate hours that you work and don’t do anything that you wouldn’t do if you worked away from home. You must think of your time away from the office as time and money lost. Think as a businessperson and focus on your business to reap the greatest success.