Working from home can be the life saver that your small business needs. You can cut overheads, claim back a percentage of your household running expenses and, if you outsource, you can cut staffing costs too.
However, working from home isn't without it's challenges but with these four tips you can stay productive and make the most out of running your small business from home.
Create a Dedicated Work Space
It can be easy to fall into the trap of working on your laptop on the sofa but that's not good for posture or productivity.
If you're lucky enough to have a spare room that you can turn into an office that's great, but if you're short on space, you can make a temporary work space that's only used during your working hours. Could you put a desk in the corner of your bedroom or lounge? Why not setup at the dining table and then clear things away when you've finished work? You could even convert your garden shed into an office for a bit of peace and quiet, if you can get power to it.
For more information be sure to read this article about The Secret to a Happy Home Office.
Create a Schedule
Creating a schedule is the most important step to successfully running a business from home. I use Asana to make a to-do list of my daily tasks.
Asana is a fantastic free tool that allows you to create projects, add clients, add tasks and sub-tasks. You can also set due dates and times for tasks, create recurring tasks, track time spent on tasks (using Toggl) and see what tasks other tasks are waiting on. If you work with freelancers or other team members you can also add them to tasks, assign tasks to others and discuss tasks - all within one easy to use platform.
As well as your daily task list you'll also need a household schedule that specifies your working hours. This will allow you to focus on your business during the hours that you set, whilst other household members will also know not to disturb you during these hours.
Remember to build breaks and time off into your schedule as these will help to keep you feeling refreshed and productive.
If you have children, you can also use this household schedule to plan family time, away from work, where your focus is dedicated to your children and not interrupted by work. Read more about improving your work/life balance.
Bonus Tip: Be sure to let family members and friends know when you're working from home so that they don't drop in unexpectedly and disrupt your schedule.
There's nothing worse than starting work still in your pyjamas and receiving a Skype video call that you just can't take. On top of this, working in your pyjamas can make you feel groggy and unfocused.
Make a habit of getting dressed each morning and having breakfast before starting work to put you in the right frame of mind and ensure that you're ready for anything.
Get Out of the Office
One of the things that people who work from home miss most is the socialisation that comes so naturally whilst at work. Make sure you get out of the office from time to time, whether this is to meet clients/suppliers face to face or attend networking meetings.
If you can't spare the time to leave the office, you could schedule teleconferences or even step outside and do some work in the garden or at a coffee shop for a change of scenery.
In summary, working from home can be extremely effective if you create a focused environment and ensure that everyone in your household is aware of your working hours. Follow the steps above to create the perfect work space, develop a schedule and stay productive.
Bonus Tip: Remember that working from home doesn't mean that you're working alone. Be sure to continue networking and communicate regularly with your customers, suppliers and co-workers. If you're struggling with time, consider hiring a virtual assistant to help complete some of your daily tasks.