There are a lot of stories written about home-based businesses—trust me, I just did a Google search. Working from home has changed drastically over the years, thanks to technology.
If you think back not even 20 years about home-based businesses, you might envision a low-tech service business such as a daycare or landscaping company. To run a professional business, you needed to be located in commercial office space. Not only did commercial space provide the technical services you needed, but it also provided a professional atmosphere appropriate for meeting with clients.
Luckily, for us freelancers, that is no longer the case.
I have a laptop, high-speed internet, printer, and cell phone that allow me to do my work at home. And I have a nice office/laundry room to do it in. I know a bunch of people who work from home and I have some tips on how to run it right. See if you agree.
Find Your Own Space
Working from your kitchen table is hard. Especially if you have a spouse and/or children who like to use that kitchen table. My desk is chaos to an outsider, but I know exactly where everything is and no one is allowed to touch it.
I work on a desktop computer (an iMac)—if I didn’t I’d undoubtedly work in bed or in front of the television, and that’s not very productive. I have an ergonomically correct chair and lots of natural light pouring in all day.
Having a space all to yourself is important. You can shut the door when you need to and focus. You don’t need to rely on a noisy coffee shop or the hours at your public library to get things done.
Schedule Kid-Free Time
A lot of people who work at home make the mistake of thinking they can also take care of their children during the day, saving on the cost of child care for younger children. More often than not, you end up working in spurts when (and if) your child goes down for a nap. And since that’s only a couple of hours (if you are lucky) during the day, you are playing catch-up at night after the kids have gone to bed, leaving you no time to socialize with your spouse.
Depending on the amount of freelance work you have, this arrangement may work out fine. If you are busy, however, it could prove to be your downfall.
Also, I can’t tell you how annoying it is when you are on the phone with someone and your child is howling in the background. I have had several conference calls where this has happened. I didn’t appreciate it, and your client won’t either. If you are going to take important phone calls, make sure your lovely children aren’t causing a ruckus in the background. It’s unprofessional.
Find Someplace Where You Can Have a Client Meeting
If your clients are local, you may have to meet them face to face on occasion. Please don’t invite them to your house if it is a catastrophe. I know several professional photographers who work from home that have a separate meeting space where they can sit down with their clients that is a part of their home, oftentimes with a separate entrance.
If you need to have a meeting, and it can’t be at your client’s office, try to find a quiet place outside of your home to have it. Scope out some coffee shops in the area and find out when they aren’t busy (i.e., quiet) and schedule a meeting there. Many co-working spaces and libraries have designated conference areas—see what it would take to use these spaces if you have frequent meetings.
Hire A Virtual Assistant
If having a professional presence is important to you, a virtual assistant can be a great help. It’s like having a secretary that doesn’t work in your office. This person works remotely, and can help you with your bookkeeping, and scheduling, and even answer your phone calls and forward them to your phone or voicemail.
Create Separation Between Work and Home Life
The downside to working from home is that you can feel like you should be working all the time. It’s nice to have an office door that you can close to create a literal barrier between your workspace and home space.
Trying to keep regular office hours can help with this, but, as any freelancer knows, that can be a tall order. Set your alarm to get up at the same time every day and have a routine. The later in the day you start your work, then later in the evening you will be spending on finishing up.
Just because you are working from home doesn’t mean you can’t run a professional office. Do you have any tips on ways to make freelancing from home even more successful?