Many entrepreneurs who wish to start their own practice often begin working from home until they find their feet and can afford the office space.
There are many advantages to working from home. You can control your own schedule to suit your personal life, which is especially convenient for those with young families or attending classes, and you can also dramatically lower your costs, with no rent and no need for expensive work clothes.
Working from home does not suit everyone however, so it is vital to be honest to yourself about whether you have the self-discipline and motivation to maintain a high standard of work from home and stick to designated deadlines and set breaks. There is also the issue of being isolated and having limited contact with the outside world and constant contact with those that you live with.
If working from home is something that you think you could benefit from, you will need to do the following:
- Create your Work Environment
It is important to recreate an office atmosphere in the home, not only for your image but also for your health. Professional office equipment and furniture will ensure you don’t suffer from any repetitive stress injuries or get complacent when it comes to your work.
The same can be applied to what you wear; dress for work at home as if you are going into the office to get your mind in ‘work-mode’. Maintain the attitude that you work from home, not at home to help you distinguish the difference between the two.
Designate your office as a no-go area for other people in the house during your working hours unless it is important. This will make it easier to separate your work and personal life and will help to minimise the amount of distractions throughout the day.
- Get Organised
Have an organisational system in place to keep on top of all your important files and documents, both in digital and paper format. The average executive spends three hours a week looking for things, adding up to a total of three and a half weeks every year.
Organise your time as well and set yourself a schedule that you can stick to; a time to start, a short tea or coffee break, lunch and a time to finish. Many of those who work at home often end up working late into the night because their office becomes their home so again, it is very important to separate the two and have a designated end time.
As you control your own schedule, you can arrange your time to suit the times of the day when your productivity is higher, so you can carry out more important tasks in the morning or afternoon and leave other, more mundane activities to your less productive times of the day.
Communications are imperative to any business so consider getting a separate landline for your business to avoid any young children answering the phone. If this is beyond your budget, make sure that all members of the household know how to answer the phone in a professional manner.
Schedule the time when you have to take an important call or need to hold a conference call, to avoid any mishaps such as a delivery arriving at that time or a busy house with children just home from school.
Look into using Skype for your business as this will lower your costs further and allow you to ring, video call and message customers and clients, wherever they are in the world.
Use the internet to avail of some free marketing and coverage, with Facebook and Twitter providing excellent opportunities for small businesses. You could write a blog on topical issues relating to your business and try to get quoted in any local media on related topics.
One of the biggest issues facing people who are working from home is the feeling of isolation and being cut off from the outside word. Avoid this by taking as much networking opportunities as possible. Join social networks like LinkedIn and local trade and business organisations that will put you in touch with potential business contacts and give you a much needed social outlet. You can also get involved in the local community to boost your profile in the area.
- Don’t Overlook the Paperwork
Make sure to study all the fine print there is to running a business from home, as you will need to consider different issues like insurance cover and tax laws. The Irish Insurance Federation offers free advice for members of the public with any queries they may have about insurance. You will need to register as a self-employed person with the Revenue Commissioners and if you are using a business name, you must register the name with the Companies Registration Office. If you were previously unemployed, you may be entitled to support grants, such as the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance (BTWEA) Scheme and the Short-Term Enterprise Allowance (STEA) Scheme.
Self-employed people can claim expenses, but for those working from home they must only relate to the business, such as electricity, internet and telephone charges and must be apportioned to exclude the private use.
Founded in 1943, the Institute of Certified Public Accountants in Ireland (CPA) is one of the main Irish accountancy bodies, with in excess of 5,000 members and students. The CPA designation is the most commonly used designation worldwide for professional accountants and the Institute’s qualification enjoys wide international recognition. Its membership operates in public practice, industry, financial services and the public sector and CPAs work in 40 countries around the world. For further information visit www.cpaireland.ie