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Perks and Pitfalls: Running a Home-Based Business

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For many new small business owners, running a business from home is a no-brainer (and often a financial necessity!). With a commute measured in feet rather than miles, you can be ready to work anytime. Without the worry of renting office space, your overhead will be far less than that of traditional business owners. Plus, you’ll get to join the pantheon of other businesses that began in a humble home, such as Apple, Mary Kay, Hershey’s, and Ford.

It’s no wonder more than half of all small businesses in the U.S. are home-based. However, working from home brings its share of challenges. Here are several home office pitfalls that accompany the perks:

  • Prospects might not take you seriously – Some potential clients might view you as less professional or possibly not serious about your business because you don’t have a “real” office.

Suggestion: Maintain the same work ethic and hours that you would if you had an office elsewhere. Treat your in-home business like a bona fide business—because it is!

  • Interruptions from family and friends who don’t quite get it – Especially in the start-up phase, you’ll likely find some of your relatives and friends won’t understand the concept of “working” from home. They’ll think you’re free to meet for coffee or entertain them when they drop by unannounced.

Suggestion: Set expectations from the start. Make sure your friends and family know when you will and won’t be available for socializing.

  • Lack of socialization – Working independently without face-to-face interaction with colleagues can leave you feeling alone and isolated.

Suggestion: Periodically take your work to another location such as a coffee shop or co-working space. When appropriate, consider scheduling video conference calls or in-person meetings with clients and project partners rather than only communicating via phone or email.

  • Endless distractions – Your personal “to do” list at home can be difficult to ignore when tasks are staring you in the face. Tending to them when you should be focused on your business is a sure-fire way to thwart your productivity.

Suggestion: Have a dedicated space for your home office where you can physically shut the door and leave behind your laundry piles and dirty dishes. Schedule time on evenings and weekends (or whenever your out-of-office hours are) for your personal tasks so you’re not tempted to tackle them when you should be working on your business.

  • Inability to get away from your work – On the flip side, you may never feel able to take a break from your business when you work from home. There’s always more to do!

Suggestion: Establish a cut-off time each day for when you will no longer check work emails, business social media accounts, and take calls from clients. Although you may need to bend your rules now and then, you’ll be more likely to give yourself a mental break and your family members the time they deserve if you set  boundaries.

To find out more about the realities of starting and growing a small business, reach out to SCORE Maine to get expert guidance from one of our mentors.

Further Reading and Resources: Starting a Business in Your Home: Weighing the Pros and Cons

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