Is a Home Office Right for You?

BY: ON TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 2011

Is a Home Office Right for You?

Most people would list working for themselves as one of their life goals. Starting a new business is a big risk; it takes a solid idea or product, tireless dedication, finding a niche in the market, and a fair amount of luck to succeed.

Many businesses and ideas die soon after inception due to mismanagement. A miscalculation of overhead or market size can kill a business before it even gets off the ground. It can also take a while after you’ve opened your new business before you develop a steady customer base that can support you. This is why it is crucial to start small and save as much money as possible at first.

In layman’s terms, don’t bite off more than you can chew. Staying out of debt before you have a steady income to pay it off is crucial to giving your business a healthy shot at success. One of the most obvious ways to start small and minimize overhead is by running your fledgling business out of your home. As convenient as this sounds, a home office isn’t practical for all people and all ideas. Consider these factors as you plan your new business.

Considering a Home Office


1. Does a home office make sense for your business idea?
Obviously, some kinds of businesses lend themselves to a home office setting easier than others. For example, computer-oriented jobs like copywriting, web development and graphic design can be managed from home. Selling retail products, or businesses that depend on aesthetics to woo clients and customers obviously won’t work.

The Internet has opened the door for a plethora of home business opportunities. If your heart is really in selling retail, but you can’t secure a business loan to pay for store space, consider starting a website and an online store!

2. Can you be productive while working from home?
It’s time to get real with yourself, can you honestly work from home and be productive? Do you have the self-discipline? Does your situation at home allow you the quiet and privacy necessary to run a business?

Starting a business will not only require the typical 8-5 work day, but it will most likely keep you busy into the night. Can you force yourself to put in the hours with the sofa, TV and refrigerator so near by? Do you have young kids at home that will distract you from your work?

It is very easy to get lazy, distracted and off-schedule while working from home. If discipline isn’t one of your strong qualities you may want to consider renting an office space to maintain the separation of work and office.

Make sure your business idea fits within zoning regulations for your area.

3. Outsider Opinions. All businesses depend on relationships. Whether with clients, suppliers, partners or investors, it is the connections you make that will push your business forward. Will the people that your business depends on take you seriously if you work from home? Impressions go a long way in business. Make sure these people see that you are fully professional and competent while working from home.

Making your Home Office a Business

As we discussed above, it is the opinions of the people you connect with that will drive your business. It is crucial to look the part. Make sure your home office looks professional. Even though you may never receive clients at your home, maintaining a professional work area will also facilitate the progress of your business.

1. Designate a work/ office area.
It will be hard to be productive while working from the couch or bed.  You’ll also find it difficult to work in high traffic areas like the kitchen. Ideally you have a storage room, a nook in the master bedroom or even a large walk in closet that can suit your needs. Make sure to find a secluded area; it may have to be in your garage, that you can retrofit into an office.

2. Office Equipment. Obviously you will need a desk, a desk chair, proper seating for guests (if you will be receiving them), lighting and computer equipment. Your office furniture does not have to be expensive for your office to look professional and be productive. Spending top dollar on chic office equipment and furniture will defeat the purpose of saving money by working from home. Make sure that you don’t buy more you need.

Since your budget and space will both be limited, all-in-one printers are a great way to save on both. All-in-one printers are printers, scanners and fax machines in one office appliance. These machines are just as efficient as the stand-alone options. For a small operation, you probably don’t have the money or the room for three different machines.

3. Office Supplies. Every office needs office supplies, and your line of work will surely dictate most of the office products that you will need. Every business needs the basics – pens, printer paper, file folders, notepads, post-it notes, etc.

As is the theme of the article, saving money on your office supplies can happen in a variety of ways. Typically businesses save money by buying in bulk, however, considering the size of your business this may not be the best plan. Online suppliers can often offer better prices because they are not governed by the same sales tax laws as brick-and-mortar businesses. In states like Oregon, Delaware and New Hampshire, where there is no sales tax this advantage is negated.

Unlike your equipment, where you might see a drop off in performance if you buy a less expensive product, office supplies is a great area to save money while still getting what you need. Make an initial list of the products you will need and shop around from online suppliers to local stores for the best prices.

Starting your own business is a huge risk, and many businesses fail early on because they simply cannot afford to stay in business. By starting off small and working from home you can mitigate this risk and start your dream job off on the right foot. The key is patience and careful spending. Get the most out of your budget by carefully researching your options. Once your businesses has outgrown your home office you can begin to explore options of expanding.

About the Author

Javi Calderon
Javi Calderon is a freelance writer, copywriter and journalist with interests in music, sports, small business marketing, and technology.
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