Many entrepreneurs are choosing to operate their newly formed businesses out of their homes. A tight economy combined with a desire to grow the business along and a need to keep cash flow positive, home-based businesses are as popular as ever.
Whether you are starting a new business or have been operating out of your home for a while, you still should consider the following tips to keep your business from having that “amateur” home business appearance.
1. Set Business Hours and Keep Them
When you work from home, you have a strong temptation to treat your business like a house guest. The kitchen is right there, and oh, leftovers are waiting. The trash needs to be taken out, and as long as you’re home, you might as well try and fix that leaky faucet.
Don’t ignore your home business. The best practice is to set your business hours and make a commitment to keep them. Consider your work time as if you are going to the “office” each and every day, even if it is just 10 steps and not a 10 mile commute. Without this commitment, you will be strongly tempted to do “home” things that take your attention away from your business.
2. Rent a Conference or Meeting Room
Unless you have made major renovations in your home for client meetings and are actually in the business of designing home offices, you will not likely meet your customers or clients in your home. But wherever shall you meet them?
Office spaces of the 21st century are keenly aware of the flexibility in many businesses. You can easily rent a conference or meeting room, complete with copier, printer Wi-fi, presentation technology, and more. Take advantage of a professionally-designed meeting space to keep your clients thinking that you do take your business seriously and that you are a professional yourself.
3. Utilize Mobile Technology
It is likely that most small home businesses can be run with an iPhone and a laptop. And even with the introduction of the iPad, you can narrow your mobile needs down even further.
These tools are essential in keeping your mobile and giving you the ability to access your business not just from home, but at Starbucks, at the airport, in a business meeting, etc. Your mobile tools should be able to make quick phone calls, access needed files fast, and be able to access Wi-fi internet.
4. Keep the Appearance Professional
Even if you operate out of your home dressed in your pajamas and bathrobe, that doesn’t mean your business should have that appearance. Be sure you make the effort to have professionally designed and produced business marketing materials, including:
Business cards – Don’t print your business cards at home on your printer. Yes, there are some fine software programs that can help you make a cool custom designs. However, your inkjet is never as professional-looking as when it is done by a professional printing company. Use the neighborhood office store to print your cards. Online printers like can also provide hundreds of great business cards for a very cheap price.
Letterhead – As with business cards, don’t print your letterhead with your inkjet. Get it preprinted in batches from your professional printer as well.
Website – You may be tempted to design your own small business website. But if you are not well-versed in web design and development, let this be done by the pros as well. Websites made from professional templates can be nice, but they lack that unique and customized feel. Hire a professional designer to make your website dazzle and get past the small business “amateur” stage.
5. Only Choose Home if The Space Allows
Avoid the temptation to have a home business simply because it saves money. If you are cramped in a corner desk in the family room, or have to spread out on the kitchen table and clean up every night, you are not working in optimal conditions. Be sure your home has a full spare room. It could be a spare room, a den, a finished basement, or even a converted garage. This has advantages to help you step into an “office”. Plus it gives you better reasons to use the space as a tax deduction.