Successfully operating a small business at home requires more than dedicated office space filled with the best furniture and equipment. Following are six business-savvy tips to help keep your home-based small business on track.
1. Maintain regular work hours
Plan to be at your desk during typical work hours, like 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Even if you are experiencing a slow day with little or no business, it’s important to establish a work routine. Use free time to do things like learn new software or new marketing techniques, focus on networking, organize the office space, or research potential business contacts.
2. Just say no
Neighbors may think you are their point of contact for deliveries or to let maintenance people into their homes, all because you are at your home during the day. Similarly, friends may feel they can drop in or call you whenever they want. Operate your home business just like big business does and don’t invite people into your home to socialize during established work hours and restrict personal calls.
3. Dress for success
It’s a given that you should wear office attire when meeting with clients. Dressing professionally can give the impression that you are serious about your work. Maintaining a professional appearance at home, even when clients are not expected, may boost your self-confidence. A suit doesn’t have to be worn at home; go for business casual.
4. Find a mentor
Business mentors are seasoned professionals willing to coach small business owners to help them meet their business goals. The mentor won’t necessarily provide you with specific answers but may direct you to resources where you can find the answers you need to succeed. Or the mentor may ask you questions to stimulate your own thought processes. Inc Magazine offers advice on finding a mentor.
5. Digital information safety
Use computer virus protection software that can also protect your computer against internet attacks from unsuspecting websites. Backup your files daily, which can be accomplished with an external hard drive set to automatically perform backups or through an online storage vendor. If maintaining the backup at home, consider purchasing two external hard drives, keeping one in a secure place, like a safe deposit box. Then periodically, like once or twice a month, switch the hard drives. By keeping a copy of the backup away from home, you reduce potential loss caused by theft or fire.
6. Dealing with hardware failures
Many small business owners rely on the internet to keep their business running and for email communication. What happens when your connection to the internet is disrupted, either through mechanical issues with your computer, modem or router, or if the internet service provider experiences technical difficulties? Before you lose access to the internet, investigate your options, like a local coffee shop that allows customers to access their wireless network. Your local library may provide an option to access their network, but if not, the library may have computers to use. Though not long term solutions, these options could get you beyond a crisis. A wireless USB internet service is also an option, but can come at a hefty price with at least a one-year contract.
Fear of computer failure can be calmed by having two computers. A low priced notebook with only the bare necessities could be a backup that can also serve as a travel computer, even if the travel is just from your office to the family room.
Resource: Inc. Magazine: Finding a Mentor