Rhonda Maco, ESQ.
Why Your Home-Based Business Can Only Take You But So Far......
Yes, we live in an age where cutting overhead costs are a 'strategic must' when you consider starting your own business. In this day of virtual offices, shared office space, voice answering services and mail-drop boxes, there are so many viable alternatives to spending thousands of dollars in monthly rent, utilities and business phone lines/internet charges. But the truth is, many of us hang out our shingle rather quickly without fully analyzing whether a home-based business is the BEST alternative for the type of business we seek to start.
Let's be realistic. Having a home-based business cannot be totally about costs. Any successful Entrepreneur will think long term and also keep up with the trends of their industry in order to make proper assessments about what is feasible and practical. Get started by asking yourself five (5) questions about starting a home-based business:
1. How often will I need to meet with clients and potential clients?
2. What improvements, if any, will I need to make in my home in order to set up a home office?
3. Will I eventually need an office space as the business grows?
4. Will I need to hire employees initially or perhaps a few years down the road?
5. What are my goals and objectives for my business?
Keep in mind, these are only the initial questions you need to ask yourself. You must also consider the mental aspect of having a home-based business. While rolling out of bed at 10:00am and staying in your pajamas all day as you work sounds great, you may not be able to reach your maximum entrepreneurial potential in your pajamas and bunny slippers. Working takes a toll on us mentally and physically in many ways. Understand that there is something therapeutic about leaving your home for work and also leaving the work place to come home to your personal space....or what I like to call 'My Slice of Peace'. If you have not completely thought out your business plan for your home-based business, you may not be able to effectively separate your workspace and your home/personal space. Even more troubling, when you have those tough days at work (and trust me there will be tough days), it's very difficult to shake off the stink of the work day when your home life is literally 2 or 3 steps away. Some of us find it hard to leave work at work when we have a separate office away from home to go to...let alone an office that is in our home. If we are not mentally prepared for the challenge of a home-based office, we may find ourselves in a mental slump and possibly avoiding that home-based office from time to time when work needs to get done.
Oh, and what about the home distractions????? You know what I'm talking about. The laundry, the dishes, the dog, the cat, the dry cleaning and other errands you need to run and...wait a minute, let me paint the living room real quick...I've hated the color of the living room since I bought this house! The list of distractions goes on and on and gets longer and longer with each passing day. How do you handle all of these considerations?
Discipline is key. The first step is to determine if a home-based business will work for you. Start with your Business Plan. Your Business Plan will force you to answer key questions that will help you determine if the home-based business will work for you. If so, your long term goals will help you understand how long you will keep the business home-based so that you can plan and save for office space. You will also have to set strict parameters with respect to the home distractions. If your work hours are from 9 to 5, then work 9 to 5 and don't wash the dishes or put in that load of laundry until you are off the clock. Treat your business like a business and not a part-time gig. And also keep in mind that you will need to assess the effectiveness of the home-based business as you grow. Once you clearly define your goals and cultivate the passion of your business venture, graduating from a home-based business to an outside office space will be inevitable.
There is nothing wrong with starting a home-based business. However, a home-based business is a starting point, not an end point. Continue to assess and evaluate your business so that you can take your business to the next level. Keeping your business at home can only take you but so far.....Think Bigger!