Did you know that around 70% of all new businesses start off in the home? And, after a record number of UK start-ups in 2015, more home-based entrepreneurs than ever are set to take advantage of reduced overheads, non-existent commutes and increased flexibility to get their new business ventures off the ground.
While working from home boasts an array of benefits, it’s certainly not always the bed of roses it may appear. For instance, staying motivated to work when surrounded by an array of domestic distractions can take superhuman levels of will power and organisation.
So, if you have recently created a kitchen table start-up – or are considering doing so soon – here are some top tips that will help keep you and your new business’s bottom line pulling in the same direction.
Boost your tech skills
As a work from home entrepreneur, it is unlikely you’ll have access to an IT department that can offer tech support the moment you need it. Yet, with just about every niche becoming increasingly tech-driven, acquiring some basic IT skills could be key to keeping your business running when you encounter a technical glitch.
Networking and conversing with clients and customers electronically is crucial when working from home. For this reason, getting active on LinkedIn groups that relate to your business and developing proficient video conferencing skills are an absolute must. Both will help you minimise the distance barrier between you and the people that matter.
Cloud storage services such as Dropbox and Google Drive are also great tools for entrepreneurs to be literate in. Exploiting cloud storage options provides a quick and easy way to share important information with others. And, for those times when you do actually need to leave the house, saving your files in the cloud provides vital access to work via connected devices from anywhere in the world.
Create an office-like environment at home
For most of us, our home is a haven for rest and relaxation; somewhere to shield us from the stress and strain of the outside world. As a work from home entrepreneur, it is therefore important to create a space that allows you to compartmentalise work from home life.
Consequently, creating an office-like environment at home is the only way to help protect you from a plethora of domestic distractions. If you can, it’s best to dedicate a whole room to your new home office – preferably one that is big enough to accommodate a desk, comfortable chair, storage cabinets, and any other office furniture you might need to create an atmosphere conducive to work.
It’s also worth noting that at least some of the money you invest in creating a home office and some expenses you incur in running it are tax deductible. However, you should always take the utmost care when calculating home office expenses, preferably with the assistance of a professional accountant.
Create and follow a daily routine
For some work from home entrepreneurs, the appeal of being able to roll straight out of bed to start work can become all-consuming. However, in the long-term, working to an unstructured schedule in this manner can significantly compromise your productivity.
The only known solution to avoiding such temptations is to set yourself working hours, and stick to them. Having a plan that includes scheduled breaks should help. Alternatively, if you’re conditioned to working office-type hours, you might want to try scheduling your working day from home in a similar manner.
Whatever system you decide to use for managing your time, consistency is key. We’re all creatures of habit, and formulating a consistent routine is the fastest and easiest way to create a mindset conducive for work.
Get dressed for work
If you don’t create a mental separation between rest and play, it becomes a lot easier to get distracted. While you may be warm and comfortable working in your jogging bottoms or pyjamas, neither are appropriate attire when it comes to motivating yourself for a hard day’s work.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to wear a suit and tie all day, every day – particularly if you’re unlikely to interact with anyone else in a working capacity. Nonetheless, changing into smart/causal clothing can help you switch from a home to work-based mindset more easily, while also reducing your chances of slipping into relaxation mode.
Make sure you get your eight hours every night
In the UK, studies suggest that entrepreneurs work 63% longer than other workers. While it’s natural to want to put extra hours in to ensure your new business is a success, it remains important to find the right balance between work and rest.
Research indicates that the key entrepreneurial skills of planning, problem solving and lateral thinking are severely compromised when an individual is not sufficiently rested. Consequently, if you want to maintain the highest levels of productivity throughout the week, sleeping a little bit more and working just a little bit less may be the best course of action.
Eat healthy and make time to exercise
In addition to making sure you get enough sleep, eating healthily and keeping physically fit are very important for entrepreneurs who want to maximise their potential. And the good news is, as a work from home entrepreneur, you’ll enjoy more flexibility to make time to eat well and exercise.
So instead of letting convenience rule your breakfast choices, take the time saved by skipping the daily commute to prepare brain-boosting foods, such as eggs and fruit, in the mornings. Similarly, you can use the time saved by living so close to your office to make sure you get the requisite number of hours exercise recommended for adults each week.
Remember: over time, good diet and exercise are guaranteed to help tune your mind and body for success.
Technology is more reliable than will power
Procrastination is the mortal enemy of productivity and something that can strike anyone, at any time. If you spend all day at a computer, the internet, with its vast collection of time-sinking websites, can become a major distraction.
If you know you’re attracted to your favourite websites like a moth to the light, there are add-ons for all the major browsers that you can use to prevent yourself from giving in to temptation. StayFocused, for Chrome, allows you to limit time spent on particular websites, while SelfControl and LeechBlock offer similar equivalents for Safari and Firefox respectively.
Get the proper business paperwork
If you’re running a small business from home, you still need to comply with all usual legal requirements applicable to a small business, and this will include completing and submitting certain forms and other documents. You will also still need to enter into the usual business supply/purchase and other contracts to protect your legal position. When you’re trying to get a business off the ground, this can represent an unwelcome and expensive distraction.
At Simply-Docs, we provide an extensive portfolio of ready to use document and contract templates. Although professional legal advice should still be taken as appropriate, in many cases, using our template documents will allow you to substantially reduce the amount of professional legal input your business needs. As a result, becoming a subscriber to our services can offer substantial savings on legal fees, while also allowing you more time to concentrate on making your new business a success.
Have you got any tips for helping home-based entrepreneurs stay more productive? Then join the conversation in the comments section below.