5 Tips for Operating a Home-Based Business
Operating a home-based business can be both exciting and challenging. But conducting business at home during a pandemic can take that challenge to new heights. Possible hurdles can range from having children underfoot to the temptations of the refrigerator, TV, and social media, not to mention the anxiety of ongoing news updates. Maintaining the security of sensitive documents is frequently overlooked, with potentially disastrous consequences. Following the five strategies below can help ensure that working from home is productive, safe, and profitable.
Take Care of the Basics
One of the first orders of business before launching a home business is taking care of the legalities. Depending on the nature of the business, it may be necessary to obtain a general business license, a special health permit, clearance for signage, or sales tax licenses. Professionals such as accountants may need to obtain a specific license from the municipality, county, or state. If clients will be coming into the home, special parking permits may also be needed. It may also be necessary to obtain a doing business as (DBA) certificate or another formal registration for businesses that are operating under an assumed name.
Recognize the Pros and Cons of Working from Home
On one level, working from home is great. There is no dealing with rush hour traffic or crowded public transportation. Most days it’s possible to work in comfy pajamas – or dress from the waist up for online conferences. However, working from home also has its downsides. It’s far too easy to spend the day lounging about snacking and watching daytime TV. When work gets hectic, living spaces can be transformed into a disorganized mess with papers and office gear scattered everywhere. Isolation is also a potentially major problem – not only because of loneliness but also from the lack of opportunity to make connections. The solution is to embrace the advantages of working from home while also establishing a personalized routine.
Establish a Dedicated Home Office or Workspace
The ideal situation for working from home is to set aside a separate room as a dedicated office. A guest bedroom can be converted to an office while including a comfortable sofa bed or day bed to accommodate overnight guests. Whether or not a separate room is available, establishing dedicated office space is essential. An ergonomic chair, a desk or table at the proper height, sufficient natural and supplemental light, and ample storage are all key to creating a home office that inspires productivity. Stock up on office staples such as paper, postage, and ink for the printer to avoid excessive trips to the store or post office.
Minimize Distractions and Maintain Productivity
There is no need to rise at 6 a.m. and be in front of the computer by 8 a.m. However, establishing a regular work routine is key to maintaining a reasonable level of productivity. Turn off the TV and avoid spending hours on social media.
Scheduled breaks are also important. Take five minutes to get up and walk around the room. Allow 15 minutes or half an hour for a TV break – but avoid watching anxiety-provoking news shows. It’s also important to schedule time to interact with colleagues or contacts via Slack, Skype, FaceTime, Zoom or some other interactive chat or videoconferencing tool. Taking social media breaks is also OK – as long as you hold yourself to strict time limits.
Protect Sensitive Paper and Computer Documents
Working from home is not only convenient for small business owners, but also for cybercriminals and identity thieves. Downloading and installing current computer software security updates is a must. And while it may be tempting to skimp on outdated equipment, this penny-wise and pound-foolish strategy can backfire in the case of ransomware or another malware attack.
Likewise, proper disposal of paper documents is a must. Opting to shred documents or even burn them is an effective way of ensuring sensitive personal or financial records do not wind up in the wrong hands.
Embracing the Work from Home Lifestyle
Working from home can be a liberating change from the 9 to 5 routine. And during a worldwide pandemic, working from home is one of the safest ways to maintain an income. However, it is important to take care of legalities, set up an effective home office, and establish good cybersecurity and paper disposal practices to minimize the risk of identity theft and other security hazards. It is also important to establish a regular routine and make time for interactions with other people to reduce loneliness and maintain productivity.
Original – Eileen Conant