If orange is the new black, then home must be the new office suite. People are rapidly adopting the idea of the knowledge economy and realizing that they can get more for their ideas and work more independently than with an employer. This means people are leaping away from the job market to become consultants and many of those are taking an even bigger leap and going from consultant to business owner with employees. Years ago, the aim of every business owner was to get an office in an office park or office building. That office park address was a status symbol, something they were anxious to put on business cards, letterhead and anything a printing company would print upon. Today, that paradigm of paying high rent in an office park is shifting as people smartly wonder if they actually need an office. With the advances of technology, our homes offer the same, if not more, amenities than any office park. As a result, we are finding ourselves in a “home-based business” economy where the cost of entry is low, overhead is low, cost can be kept low and the environment is more easily controlled. Entrepreneurs across the globe, including the woman writing this article, are handing over their keys to the office suite and literally taking their business to the house.
The low barrier of entry into the home-based business sector has opened the floodgates and allowed for people who would have never considered starting their own business to dive into entrepreneurship headfirst. Everyone knows that diving in headfirst can be dangerous, even deadly, and entrepreneurship is no different. Here are five things you can do to ensure your success:
1. Break good habits
Many people leave Corporate America to go home and create the next multi-million dollar business. There is only one problem. When they leave Corporate America, they take Corporate America habits with them. Here is the problem, not all of these habits were bad, and some of these habits are the main factors that allowed the person to have great career success and acquire the tools that has them in a position to be released of the golden handcuffs. Surely, they should want to take these great things into their home-based business. No. One of the first steps in being successful in your home-based business is identifying those skills, actions and behaviors that served you well when you were an employee but will not yield you the same results as the leader of a home-based business. Identify those habits and break them quickly.
2. Be the leader
When we were children, we often played a game called “follow the leader” and the leader shifted based on who won the last round of play. As the owner of a home-based business, you are still playing that game except the leader does not shift. Everyone is following you, you are the leader, you set the pace, direction, mission and vision. One of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs make is waiting on someone to tell them their next step. You, the owner of a home-based business, no longer have the luxury of waiting to be told what is next. You are the leader, own it, embrace it and lead well. Your business depends on it.
3. Have a home office
I was working with a client who owned a home-based business and her biggest question for me was, “How do I convince my husband that I am a business owner running a multi-million dollar business and not a stay-at-home mom who has a side hustle?” My answer: have a space in your home that is only your office. A huge mistake is thinking you can have an office/workout room/guest room/kids play room/ … You must train yourself to make the transition to running a home-based business but, and most importantly, you must also train your family (this includes the four-legged members as well). Your home office is not just a location. It is also a symbol. Your home office says “I am at work. Do not disturb me unless the house is on fire and the ambulance is on the way.” Your home office is a way of training you and “them” that you are not just playing around, you are actually at work. Having the space is not enough, remember, it is a symbol. When you are in your office you must behave a certain way which includes making people respect the time you spend in that space. One of my clients found himself in the midst of the “family training” process and I gave him the assignment of setting and posting office hours and to get up and get dressed just like he did when he was going into the office. His family thought he was crazy for a little while but it worked. They began to recognize the symbol that the home office represented and he found himself becoming more and more productive and his revenues showed it.
4. Keep a schedule
Make and post office hours. Running a home-based business is a wonderful thing but you must maintain balance. When work is at home it is so easy to never let work end or to never start work; both are bad. Never letting work end is a bad idea. I often hear people saying my business is my life. Your business is not your life, it is a part of your life. Have a clear schedule of when you are to leave work. Now, there are times when you will burn the midnight oil but this should not be your norm. The flip side is have a time when you go to work. When you are home it is so easy to look around the house and see other things that need to be done: the dishes, vacuuming, dusting, laundry, sleeping. Have times that are designated for your business and require your employees to do the same. Though my entire team works remotely, we all, including me, have posted office hours.
5. Leave the house
Sometimes you just need to get fresh air. For many people, the only time they leave the house during the week is to go to work. When you work in your home office, you stand the risk of never leaving your home. This is scary. Vitamin D is best absorbed from sun rays; you need it. Schedule daily events outside your home. This could be working on the porch, a lunch meeting with a client, friend or prospect. Have a schedule to make sure you get out of your house.
If you have a home-based business, these are just a few tips to get you on the right track. Implement these and watch your productivity and revenue head in the right direction.