Running your business from home brings an enormous number of benefits. However, it can also bring difficulties, such as a closer fusion of work and domesticity. One of the most difficult challenges home-based entrepreneurs face is maintaining professionalism at all times; these five tips should help you do so.
Treat your business like a full time job
One of the biggest attractions of home-based businesses is the ability to work flexible hours, although this is often a slippery slope. Having your leisure space so close to your working space can tempt even the most disciplined souls, so it’s important to set out your working habits from the beginning and work hard not to deviate. Full-time hours, what most of us are used to, is a great starting point. In the future you may be able to start later or finish earlier (perhaps to spend more time with the kids), but for now maintain your routine in order to make a smoother adjustment over to self-employment.
Maintain separate business quarters
Conducting both business and leisure in one place can be difficult, particularly shifting between mindsets rapidly. This is made even harder if there is no physical separation between the two. If possible, keep a room solely for running your business and kit it out to look like an office. Limit the leisure activities you conduct in there. Don’t install a television. You want to always be in the working mindset when you’re in the office. Buy some decent furniture and keep the room clean and tidy; this attitude will encourage the right mindset when you need to concentrate on work. Once you’re finished with work, leave your office and enter the rest of your house. Don’t bring files or work with you.
Discuss ground rules with other residents
Whether you live with your family or housemates, they’ll have their own opinions of your business and how to approach it. You need to make it clear how you feel and what you expect. If you can’t be disturbed between certain hours, for example due to regular conference calls, make sure everyone knows this to avoid confrontation down the line. You may also wish to discuss what you expect when clients are entertained, particularly if you’re holding client meetings regularly and trying to generate new leads.
Keep your house clean and tidy
Mess and dirt is often seen as unprofessional; at the very least ensure your business quarters are maintained well. If you can keep the rest of the house clean too you’ll generally feel more relaxed and professional which is a beneficial to both leisure and business time. You may wish to improve your ‘kerb appeal,’ the visual exterior of your house, to give the right impression to clients. Pressure washing the driveway and hanging some plant pots can really help brighten up the place and give off a better vibe.
Wear the right clothes
Since you’ll be working from home it can be tempting to wear whatever’s lying around but this does not promote a professional mindset. You don’t have to wear a suit when you’re in your office but sticking to semi-casual attire helps keeps your brain on the right track. When entertaining clients you should dress to impress, although this will depend on the nature of your industry, the type of client that’s coming round and the relationship you have with them.