How to become your own boss and work from home
Tips and expert advice on how to start your business and get the most out of working from home.
If you’re self-motivated and want to reap the rewards of your hard work, then starting your own business could be an exciting next step. Here’s some advice to get started.
Does the idea of escaping from the daily grind and becoming your own boss excite you? Starting your own business can be a daunting prospect. But if you do your research, prepare and give yourself the best start possible, there’s no reason you can’t join the one million Australians who run a business from home. Here’s some tips to get you started.
Make a productive environment
These days many jobs can be done with a laptop and an Internet connection, which means there’s more opportunity to have a flexible working life than ever before. When you’re working from home, one of the major enemies of productivity is getting distracted from the task at hand and being sucked into household chores. Freelance writer Alice Wasley says that boundaries and routine are the keys to working from home successfully.
“I try to stick to a routine so I work the same hours everyday,” says Alice. “It’s also really easy to convince myself that as long as I’m doing some kind of job (laundry, cleaning) it counts as work - so I have to watch that,” says Alice. “I’ve created an inviting zone in my house that’s my designated working space. If I work from the kitchen table, for example, it’s too easy for the lines between work life and home life to be blurred,” she says.
Create your space
When you’re creating your new work-only zone ensure you treat it as a place of business. Get all the essentials – a computer, an in-tray, and even an inspiration board will help keep you motivated. Stay organised by using magazine holders or another file system to keep things in order. Make sure your space is uncluttered and avoid decorating with personal items that may provide a distraction like books, tablets or games. If your office space is in the living room, ensure it doesn’t face the television and never work while the television is on. You need think of your new home office as a workplace – you’d never watch a movie in a corporate work environment, so best not to do it while working at home, too.
Stay motivated and focused
Being your own boss can be exciting and rewarding but without the camaraderie of colleagues it can also be lonely, especially if you’re used to an office environment. If you need the hustle and bustle of other people to motivate you, grab your laptop and head out. Libraries or cafes are a great place to work and many offer free Wi-Fi. Or, if your local community has free public Wi-Fi, you may be able to take advantage of it and work in a local park. Having suitable spaces that are conducive to work close by is key to conducting a successful home business.
“I like to start every day with a trip to my local coffee shop, even if it’s just to get a takeaway coffee, so I get to talk to other humans! Plus, it’s a signal that my work day has officially started,” says Alice.
Start small and build up
Try and do as much as possible to kick-start your business before you commit to it full time. Set up your website (hosting sites like WordPress or Weebly make this easy, even for people who aren’t tech-savvy). Start networking before you give up your full-time work and, if you can, take on a few clients as a side project. This is a great way to find your niche and get the word out about your business. Plus, it allows you test the waters to see if there’s a market for the service you’re providing before you make any rash decisions.
“I started writing freelance articles on the side when I had a full-time job on a magazine,” says Alice. “This gave me the confidence I needed to go out on my own because I already had a network of editors who I knew I could turn to before I began freelancing full time.”
Boost your skill set
If you want your new home business to be a success it’s a good idea to take every opportunity to learn and improve your skills. Get involved with any networking events within your industry and subscribe to newsletters and Facebook or LinkedIn groups so you’re across what’s happening. This will enable you to meet and engage with other small business owners in your industry or community – so you can tap into a community of people who will provide support and assistance if you need it.
Local councils around the country actively encourage home-based businesses. For example, Logan City Council in Queensland runs a program called BizConnect – an invaluable source of support for small businesses, start-up enterprises and their ongoing education. While Wyndham City Council in Victoria has a useful list of resources on its website. Anyone working from home should contact their local council or chamber of commerce as a first port of call to see if similar support services are available in their community.
Get professional help
If you’re having trouble with an aspect of setting up your business, chances are someone else has already been through it. The Australian Government business website has a great checklist to guide you through the process. But to make sure you’re doing everything by the book, it’s a good idea to talk to an accountant or lawyer who can give you solid, professional advice.