Running a Business From Home: 12 Tips on How To Succeed
Updated February 3, 2023
During your professional career, you may consider running a business out of your home. Having a home-based business can offer several advantages, though it also comes with some legal considerations. Learning what it means to operate a business from your home, along with effective processes or strategies for this opportunity, can help ensure that you run your business effectively and productively.
In this article, we list 12 tips you can use to successfully run a business from your home.
Can you run a business out of your home?
You can run a business out of your home, but different municipalities have different rules for home-based businesses. You can check the U.S. Internal Revenue Service's website to learn what steps you must take to start a business, including federal and state requirements. Depending on your business, you may need to obtain particular business licenses or certifications. You also need to review the zoning rules for your location to understand what types of home businesses are and are not allowed in your area. Complying with relevant laws and regulations ensures that you operate your business legally and demonstrates your credibility.
Related: How To Get Your Business License
What are the advantages of running a business from home?
Running a business out of your home can offer several benefits over a typical office, which you may want to consider when making this decision. These advantages include:
Eliminates your commute: Operating a business from your home means you no longer have to travel to work. This benefit helps you save money by not paying commuting costs, such as gas or public transportation fare. You can also use the time you save to conduct daily work or personal activities instead.
Lowers your overhead costs: When you run a business from home, you can avoid buying or renting office space. This benefit helps you cut down on your operational costs because you do not have to pay for certain overhead expenses, including rent and utility payments.
Offers tax benefits: Individuals who run businesses out of their homes can sometimes receive tax advantages. For example, the home office deduction enables you to write off expenses for parts of the house used “exclusively and regularly” for business purposes. Consult with tax professionals to discuss whether such deductions apply to you.
Supports your work-life balance: Home-based businesses can also offer more flexibility between your personal and professional lives. For example, you may set yourself a flexible schedule that works with your family's needs. Being at home and avoiding commuting to work can also enable you to spend more time with loved ones or other activities you enjoy.
Related: The Benefits of Working From Home
12 tips for running a business out of your home successfully
You can use the following advice to help you run a business from your home:
1. Consider your location
If you plan to have customers or other professionals coming into your home, you may want to think about your location. Again, whether you can host such home-based businesses depends on zoning laws. Make sure your residence is easily accessible and convenient for visitors. You also will want to maintain it in good condition, serving as a positive representation of your professionalism and credibility. Just because you operate a business from home does not necessarily mean you always must conduct activities there. When meeting clients, you may consider going to a local, quiet coffee shop or renting a meeting space.
2. Give yourself a schedule
Running a home-based business can provide more schedule flexibility than working in an office or for someone else. While you can choose your hours, try to maintain a consistent schedule that supports productivity. For example, you can choose the typical 9-to-5 schedule or start a bit later, such as 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Your schedule may also vary on the type of business you run, as you may need to work particular hours to conduct tasks or interact with people. Having a work schedule can also help you maintain a balance between personal and professional activities.
Related: How To Make a Daily Work Schedule
3. Dress for work
Similar to your schedule, operating a home business can offer flexibility in how you dress for work. However, try to maintain a habit of wearing office-appropriate attire. This habit is also important if your business requires you to meet with others virtually or in person. You want to project a professional image, which may not come across while wearing your pajamas. Having a daily routine of getting dressed can also help prepare you to work with a productive mindset rather than rolling straight out of bed.
4. Create a designated office area
Establishing a designated office or work area in your home can help you stay productive. Working in communal areas of your home, such as the kitchen or living room, can lead to distractions or disruptions. Meanwhile, setting your office up in a private, quiet room or space can help you stay focused on your work and separate your business from your personal life. This setting can also help you appear more professional when meeting with clients or customers virtually or in person.
If you do not have a separate room, consider setting up a partition in a shared space or establishing rules for others to follow during your work hours. For example, if you work in your living room, you may prevent others from watching television during the day. These rules can help limit disruptions and create boundaries even when sharing spaces.
Related: How To Set Up a Home Office
5. Ensure you have the right tools
Beyond a designated office space, you need to ensure you have the right tools and accessories to conduct your work. The more basic items include office furniture, such as a desk and chair, and technology, such as a computer, laptop, printer, phone or headset. You also likely need a reliable internet connection to conduct your daily business operations or interact with clients, customers or colleagues. You may also need to purchase office supplies, which can vary based on your business and typical tasks.
6. Assess your overhead costs
One of the benefits of a home-based business is lowered overhead costs. These costs represent expenses that support your daily operations, such as rent or utility payments. While you may save money on rent, you still need to consider other costs, such as insurance, office supplies and equipment, marketing expenses and any applicable wages. Understanding these costs can help you develop a budget and stay profitable. For example, you can use these insights to determine how much you can spend to set up your at-home office.
7. Build your team wisely
Depending on your business, you may need to hire employees to support its daily operations and activities. When determining your hiring needs, think about the tasks that would benefit from having an experienced employee. For example, if you do not have marketing or IT skills, those represent areas where you may hire people for support. Having a diversity of knowledge and experience on your team can help strengthen it because you can learn from one another and offer varying perspectives.
Because you work with these individuals regularly, you also may want to ensure that they share your values and align with your expectations. These factors can help you develop a positive workplace culture, whether in person or virtually. A positive workplace culture ensures that everyone feels welcome and happy to come to work. Sharing values and expectations can also help keep your team on track toward your business goals.
8. Maintain a healthy work-life balance
Operating a business from home may make you feel like you are always at work. As a result, you lose track of time and find yourself working during off-hours. Again, one of the benefits of this business type is that it enables more flexibility between your professional and personal lives. Having a balance between these two concepts can help you maintain your energy and productivity, rather than feeling burnt out.
Set boundaries to spend more time with family or personal activities and avoid overworking yourself. For example, you can turn off your computer or work phone at the end of your scheduled workday. Or you can bar yourself from entering your office space during your off-hours. Keep in mind that when running a business, you may encounter some challenges that require working extra hours, but you may not want to make it a regular habit.
9. Build your network
You can network with other businesses in your community or industry to gain professional guidance, support or connections. If you find opportunities to connect with other home-based businesses, you can use them as resources for helpful advice and tips. Building strong, positive relationships with members of your network can provide numerous benefits. For example, these individuals can promote your business to potential customers or connect you with people or services that help grow your business.
10. Develop your brand
Developing a brand can help establish your business's identity and differentiate you from others in the market. This process may involve creating a company logo, along with a unique design that you incorporate into your promotional or marketing materials. Your brand can also represent who you are as a company, such as your mission statement and values. It should send a clear and consistent message about what you offer. Creating a credible, trustworthy brand that offers high-quality products or services can help you attract and retain customers.
11. Utilize marketing strategies
Another way to attract potential customers to your home-based business is to utilize marketing and advertising strategies. Your strategy may rely upon your target market because you want to reach them where they are. For example, you may connect with customers in your community by sending flyers in the mail or participating in local events. Or you may focus your marketing efforts on the social media platforms that your target market visits regularly. Again, if you do not have marketing expertise, you may consider hiring or consulting someone who does.
12. Continue seeking opportunities to learn
As mentioned, you may hire team members to support the business with tasks where you have less experience. However, make sure to open yourself to new learning opportunities and participate in training to continue building your skill set. Learning how to perform basic office, IT or bookkeeping duties may help you cut costs associated with hiring someone else. By pursuing professional development opportunities, you can strengthen not just your skills but also your business.
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