Almost any entrepreneur starting off, and more often than not most successful ones, run their business from home. With the technologies available now days, you can run a multi-million dollar business from your home with nothing more than a desk and computer. No mandatory meetings to worry about, no set schedules or constant internal meetings, and few to no co-workers to manage, it often sounds like the ideal work environment, however, without the proper discipline and consistency, your business is likely to fail simply because of the challenges you have not considered working from home, specifically your personal habits.
Working from home, whilst very exciting in the beginning, was probably one of the most challenging things I have every done as an entrepreneur, and took me awhile to get it right. Here are some of the tips I can give you to run your business from home:
Nobody can tell you what to do when you working from home, and if you want to spend a few hours watching DVDs nobody is going to stop you, but that in itself can be a problem. At the end of the month, when the sales you expected don’t materialise, you will realise that maybe binge watching Game of Thrones Season 1-8 was not such a good idea (yeah we all been there!). You need to set your tasks for the day, and complete every single one of those tasks. Break down what you want to earn per month, and then beak that down by day and by hour if you want. That is how much you need to bring in each day or hour to justify doing what you doing.
Create A Schedule
I am not advocating that you need to have a schedule for 8-5. If you want to work 8-12 that is completely up to you. But have a schedule in terms of what you plan to do in those hours you have allocated to work. Often having the right schedule can help you become more productive in half the time you would usually spend running between tasks.
There are such awesome technologies out there that you can quite literally run your office from your smartphone. I do however recommend that you have a desktop / laptop computer (with speakers / mic and webcam), a good quality laser colour printer, high-speed internet connection, and a scanner, and the latest software. You don’t need fancy servers, you can rent these if need be and use the cloud for your data. Obviously a smartphone is a must.
See the article “What Software Do I Need As A Startup?”
Just because you work from home does not mean you should not be professional. People judge you based on their perception of you, not reality. You need to manage that perception.
Get yourself a domain name and setup your own email address (email@example.com). There is nothing more unprofessional to me than someone asking me for business and sending me emails from a Gmail or Hotmail account. If you can’t afford the $2 per month to do that, you sure as hell can’t give me the service I need in my business.
If you the type of business that physically engages with your clients, then get yourself some binders for proposals. You don’t need fancy machines, a simple slip-on binder with a plastic front cover and cardboard back will give your proposals a much more professional look and feel as opposed to simply stapling the proposal for a client.
Create a filing system, whether digital or manual, make sure everything is filed at the end of each day. This will save you a ton of admin at the end of the month. And we all know how much entrepreneurs hate admin.
Get the tools you need to order to be professional in your business. Remember you need to treat your business as a business and not a hobby.
Dress The Part
As much as you might have the urge to simply wear your pyjamas all day, don’t! Dress the part. I am not saying you need to wear a suite or tie, but dress how you would if this was your company and you had an office full of co-workers. This psychologically puts you in the right frame of mind to finish your work.
Have A Work Area
You need a dedicated work area for your desk, chair, computer and accessories. If need be, go buy a 2nd hand desk and drawers. You cannot work from your bed or the lounge sofa as tempting as that might sound. You don’t need a separate room, or cordoned off area for your office. Stop making excuses. All you need is a space allocated for you to get you into that work mind-set.
Cleanliness Is Key
I don’t know about you, but when I get to a nice clean work area in the morning, I am already in a good mood. None of us feels like working when there are papers lying all over the desk and keyboard and we know we need to first sort that all out before we can start working, or when the dust is 1cm thick on the desk and yesterday’s half-eaten peanut butter sandwich has started walking off the plate that we scared to touch it. Psychologically it already puts us off wanting to work and we start making excuses, so make sure at the end of each day that your workspace is clean and all papers filed.
Balance Personal and Work Time
Set your time upfront as to when you will be working and when will be your personal time. Set your work time to fit in with your personal time you want to allocate to your family. Just bear in mind, the amount of effort you put in to work will directly result in the amount you get out, so be flexible. Do not use my schedule or those of others, but rather find out what works for you and implement and commit to it whilst ensuring you have a work / life balance whilst still moving forward to achieve your goals.
We All Need Motivation
Very often, especially when things aren’t going the way we expected them too, we tend to get stuck in a rut and lack the motivation to work for the day, often arguing and debating with ourselves as to why we can take the day off and why we don’t need to work today.
The problem with this is that it creates a snowball effect where eventually at the end of the month you so stressed and scrabbling for those few extra dollars you need. If you are in this position, I would recommend doing some meditation early morning before you start or listening to a business audio book before your work day begins. There are lots of motivational and meditative videos / sound tracks on YouTube.
Often when I am stuck on a problem I would do a powernap or meditation for 15-30min and get up and finish what I started, or go for a walk around the estate I live in. As someone who is ADD like myself, this often helps my mind reset and tackle the problem from a new angle.
Find that method that works for you to inspire you, but never just take the day off feeling depressed lying in bed or in front of the TV. If need be, get a mentor who can guide and motivate you. You can do this, you are after all an entrepreneur!