What are some Challenges to running a Home-Based Business?
Last week’s blog discussed the many benefits of running your business out of your home, but this post will focus on the potential obstacles and how you can overcome them.
Some common challenges or complaints:
- Legal and logistic challenges.
- Drawing defined boundaries between your work and your life/family.
- Maintaining focus on work when you’re also at home.
- Maintaining focus on home (family) when you’re also at work.
- The misconception from others that you’re not really working if you work from home.
- Professional perception of your business.
- Feelings of isolation, professionally and personally.
Can your business be home based? First of all, you must decide if your company or business idea compatible to a home-in-office setup. There are certain types of businesses that would not qualify legally or logistically to run from your home, especially in the food and drink industry where there are specific restrictions with your local Public Health Department. And business with heavy customer interaction, you may find that your home’s location, parking or local ordinances may inhibit customer visits and ultimately sales.
Can you balance work/life issues? Another challenge could be work/life balance when your home and office are in the same location. How can you stay on task when all the distractions of your home (TV, laundry, chores, family) are in walking distance? How can you effectively close your office when it’s time to focus on home and family? The lines between work-life and home-life can easily become blurred when they’re both under the same roof. Below find some suggestions to define the lines.
How can you maintain your focus on work when you’re at home?
- Prepare you Mind: To maintain focus on your home based business, as in any self-employed entrepreneur knows, takes personal drive, discipline, and time-management skills. From a psychological standpoint, having a separate work space helps create a boundary between your work life and your personal life.
- Define your Space: If you have a designated area or room of your house for business, its imperative to restrict the use of that room for business only activities. As well as this fulfilling the home-in-office tax restrictions, a space restricted for business activities only will define the purpose of the space so when you occupy it, you are ready to work. (*Setting up your workspace with clean, professional decor can also improve productivity – see gallery below for inspiration.)
- Set your Schedule: Have a set schedule of days and times you work and do not veer from it unless there are medical reasons or a personal emergency, as you would if you were employed for a traditional company.
How can you maintain your focus on your life and family with home-in-office?
This tends to be a more common problem, as many entrepreneurs with a professional drive and a strong work ethic, have a hard time ‘shutting down’ for the day, as there’s always one more thing they can accomplish. The same suggestions can be applied to this challenge as seen above in maintaining focus on work, but the most beneficial is to set a firm schedule. If you set five o’clock as the end time for your day, then stick to that. Don’t start a project that will take thirty or more minutes at a quarter til five, but save that for tomorrow’s to-do list.
To preserve your joy, your creativity and your drive, give yourself time away from the office to reboot, regenerate and rest your mind and soul.
Time with your family, friends and relaxing pursuits during your ‘off’ hours will bring you to your office refreshed and ready to work the next morning.
How can you overcome misconceptions? One home-based business owner complained,
“Neighbors, family and friends think I am not doing anything important and always ask me for favors…. I learned how to say no very quickly!”
Defining your schedule with your friends and family is also important. Tell them in a kind, but definitive way that you have set work hours with budgets, deadlines, meetings and obligations as any other business owner would. Do your best to ignore personal calls, emails or social media connections during work hours, as you would be required to at any other job. Eventually, any misconceptions will be cleared up.
How can you improve your professional perception? These days, since over half of small business are being operated in owners’ homes, it is generally becoming more accepted, thus most clients or customers will not be put off by it. In the small percentage that do, remind them of the cost-savings they receive due to your decreased overhead costs. Also, showing them a record of your professionalism and valued work (through a portfolio, customer feedback or case studies), you can provide proof that location is irrelevant in producing top-notch goods or services.
*If your home is not equipped to conduct professional meetings, consider renting Virtual Office Space, which offer a large range of packages that fit your needs and budget.
How can you overcome isolation? Honestly for me this is one of the easiest challenge to
overcome, as there are a plethora of ways to expand your network of colleagues, clients, professional mentors and business acquaintances. Through your local Chamber of Commerce, business networking groups, workshops, non-profits and community events, you can fill your calendar with ways to get to know business professionals and community leaders. Don’t underestimate social media networks through Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to find like-minded entrepreneurs.
Also, I have found groups that exclusively support business owners to be the most beneficial as you can network with men and women who understand the unique challenges and rewards of owning a business. For example, groups like Business Owners Advisory Board, offered by Commerce Lexington, has been a big help for my business, as its a confidential support group for business owners.
It’s not for Everyone, but there are many Rewards
It’s not for every business owner or industry type, but home-based businesses offer an array of advantages for start-ups or small businesses. With low risk and less overhead, it can provide your business a great opportunity for growth potential. Launching your home-based can be an opportunity for you to give birth to your passions and hobbies and create a money-generating outlet for your unique and creative talents.
Define your Space
Here are some great examples of home-based office spaces that promote focus and professionalism: