If you are debating whether or not to set up a home office or to lease commercial space, it will probably be better to initially set up your office in your home. A home office will provide you with the greatest flexibility, the least amount of travel time, allow you to even work in your pajamas if you are not seeing clients, and permit you to easily work your children’s activities into your daily work schedule homesweethome.
If you are not operating a true retail-type business or expect large numbers of clients to regularly visit your office, your face to the marketplace should be your products, your services, your literature, and your marketing campaigns and not your location. As a home-based business owner, it is imperative to spend your money in those areas that your customers can really appreciate since you do not have the expense of leased commercial space.
A home office should provide privacy and enough space to house the equipment and furniture required to effectively conduct your day-to-day business activities. If your business requires client meetings in your home office, look for a room or rooms in your home that are removed from your family surroundings so that you can accommodate your clients in comfort and without distractions.
Your business plan’s budget should include a line item for office furnishings and equipment. Before you spend any money, make a list of what you need to set up your home office. This ‘needs list’ should match the line item total in your business plan. When you have your shopping ‘needs list’ completed, go shopping in your home first to see if you already have any of the items on your list (i.e., pens, paper, scissors, extra phones, tables, chairs, and desks) that you can utilize in your home office. Don’t forget to lie out a floor plan to determine the placement of your office furnishings before going retail shopping.
You may also want to inquire about an occupancy permit if you intend to run a business from your home in a residential area that is not zoned for business. The City’s Building and Zoning Department or your subdivision’s homeowners’ association will be able to provide you with the necessary permits and advise you on all local zoning and deed restrictions.
The best of both worlds would be to maintain a home office and then operate an extension of your home office from your satellite locations all over town for your larger meetings. Here is how I work it. I let my clients know that I have a home office in Southwest Houston; however, I can also meet at any of my satellite locations all around town. My satellite locations are situated in places like Denny’s, Luby’s, Chili’s, Bennigan’s, Starbucks, etc., in any section of the city.
As another alternative; if your business requires large private group meetings several times a month, you may want to consider maintaining your current home office and entering into an executive suite agreement for those several times a month when you need a large conference room in an office setting. It is much cheaper than leasing commercial space.
If you can afford it, have someone other than yourself answer your phone. Hire a part-time receptionist, or enlist the assistance of a friend or family member to assist you two to three times per week. You will be pleasantly surprised at what a great professional impression this makes on outsiders when you have a human being answering your phone. Your appearance will be that of a very well established business owner.
Your first focus should be on running your business. Eliminate distractions such as children, neighbors, and friends during your prime work hours. Make sure your friends and family understand that you are serious about this venture. Make sure that everyone is aware that they just can’t pop into your office whenever they have the urge. Condition yourself not to wander into other parts of your house and start other home related projects or start to wash dishes or begin washing a load of clothes during your prime working hours. Only answer personal calls and check your e-mails at designed times. Any type of diversion will hamper your effectiveness in managing and growing your home-based business. You must continually remember that you are at work even though your office is in your home and that you are not really in home sweet home during your designated working hours.
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