Running a business from home means having a lot of flexibility. However, with that flexibility comes a lot of responsibility. You should be the one to hold yourself accountable and need to make decisions that are best for your business. Therefore, it is important to spend time considering where you want to have your office located whether it’s inside your home, a rented space, or even at the library. Whatever decision you make, you should ensure it is somewhere you can focus and get your work done.
I’ve been a business owner for over 30 years and have found that I like having a home office best. I’ve had office space for employees, but it always worked best if I had my own space to really get my own work done. In fact, I built a building next to my house as a business space and while it worked for my employees, it never quite worked for me to have an office there.
Office Spaces Can Be Mobile
In the last 6 months, I’ve moved my home, my employee offices and my warehouses AGAIN! And again, I love my home office work space. Truth be told, I like to change location of my home office every few years. My office has made the way around the house as my has family changed.
When the kids were young, the office usually ended up in my bedroom. Once they moved into their own rooms, it was easy to put them to bed then work at my office in my own space. Over the years, my office might occupy a spare bedroom or a larger space in the finished basement. When they grew up and left the house, I moved the office into the dining room so I was closer to the front door for deliveries.
Each time, I was inspired by the space around me. I learned that I preferred windows with the shades up, a few pieces of comfortable furniture, and a table I could really lay out all the pieces of an upcoming event to organize my event folder.
Make and Keep Your Own Rules
There were rules I had to set around my workspace. Rules that I’d like to share with you in hopes that you find them useful, especially if you’re working from home and have a young family.
#1 – If mom/dad is doing business via phone. Don’t interrupt!
Setting the rules for noise control was important early on. Sometimes it seems as soon as that one important client calls, the kids start fighting. Setting this rule and enforcing it can be helpful. Offer incentives for quiet time when the phone rings so they learn the rules or have different ring tones for business and non-business calls so the kids know when they hear that certain ring they need to be quiet.
#2 – Have regular office hours
This is so much easier once the kids are in school, but having regular office hours will help the entire family. Regular hours can be 2 hours during nap time or after lunch for an hour. Set up a schedule that everyone can live with and get a bit of time for you to work on your business.
When my kids went to school, my regular hours were as soon as the bus left until they got home. To pick up a few extra hours, I worked again for a bit as soon as I got them in bed.
#3 – List your business hours on your website
Training clients is as important as training the kids. If you are planning corporate events, most of your clients will contact you during normal business hours. With brides or private occasions, this is less strict and clients could be calling at all times.
Make sure your voice mail is set up and informs them of your business hours and let the voice mail pick up those calls that come in after hours. This is all changing with email and on-line communications, but once I learned how to set up my business hours and hold true to them, it was a life changer. Not only did I have fewer calls that interrupted family time (after 5 pm), but I got better quality clients that took my business seriously.
#4 – Dress for success
I treat my in-home office just as I would any job location. I set strict hours to be in the office and I dress as if I’m headed to a downtown New York office high rise.
Dressing for the day shows you take your business seriously. You may not think it makes a huge difference, but your mannerisms and voice reflect your style of dressing when your communicating with your potential clients.
#5 – Turning off the attention grabbers
Staying focused on business will keep things moving for you. Keep the TV off and limit the personal social media exposure. I usually give myself about 15-20 minutes at the first of the day and the end of the day to catch up on social media. I like to check in early so I am not wondering if I have any communications awaiting and at the end of the day before I walk away from my computer.
#6 – NO ONE TOUCHES MY DESK
This is a rule that is as old as my business. I remember one time my daughter thought she would ‘organize’ my desk for me. I couldn’t find a thing for days. Yep, I’m a creative and my desk is not as organized as hers would be. However, I know where everything is located and it works for me. When I moved into my new house with my new husband, I set the rules right away. No one reorganizes my space for me.
#7 – Eat in the breakroom (kitchen)
There is no reason to take a chance of spilling on all the work you have just completed or getting food stuck in your keyboard. Taking a break is also good for your mind. Walk away from your computer to grab a bit of lunch or for that afternoon snack.
#8 – Get moving
If I hit a roadblock in the creative process, I move away from the computer. Just taking a walk around the block, making dinner or a few minutes of exercise can help get the creative juices flowing again.
#9 – Housework can wait
Staying focused in a home business can be difficult. Force yourself to do house work before or after your business hours (or during lunch), but don’t get sidetracked with housework during the times you should be focusing on work.
#10 – Set up appointments and meetings for early mornings
I like to set up my appointments starting at 9 AM in the morning or earlier to get me moving and start my day. Getting out and visiting with clients early starts off my day on a positive note. Once I get back to the office, I start writing my notes for that client and set up my file system if I haven’t already. Getting out early starts the day off right.
#11 – Place motivational items around you
Let’s face it, there are just days that the motivation is slower or not there at all. Place positive affirmations, your vision board and your goals for the year where you can see them often. If you’re having one of those days, you can look at these items and remember why you do what you do.
BONUS – Learn to walk away
Not everyone has this issue, but for me stopping my day is difficult. I love what I do and can work for 15 hours a day, most days. In my mind, there is always research, a new idea or something to learn. So many times I find myself sitting and working while the rest of the family socializes in the other room. Remember to end your work day and walk away.
This is not only healthy for your family but it allows your brain to switch gears and solutions can come when you’re doing other things.
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