Hi, Gladys, I am an accountant planning to open my own firm this summer. It would be more convenient and less expensive if I start the business at home; I have a 6-month-old son, and child care is expensive. Would you give me a few tips about having a home-based business? — Tammi
According to the National Association of Home Based Businesses, more than 50 million people work from home, so you have a lot of company. But of course, as with any business, the home-based variety requires careful planning.
As an accountant, you are probably aware of the technical things you need to do to get your business going, such as minding zoning regulations, making marketing and business plans and buying the necessary equipment, etc. If you are uncertain about any of those details, consider hiring a business consultant/advisor or visit the NAHBB website at www.usahomebusiness.com.
In any event, take time to write out a plan that will keep you on track. And here are a few things to consider along those lines:
• Select a designated space in your home for your business. I have often met home-based business owners that work from every room in the house. And when a client calls, they find themselves running all over the place looking for their client files.
• Working from home requires discipline. Make and keep a work schedule. If you are prone to procrastinate, this becomes even more important. A schedule will allow you to look back over the day or week to evaluate how effectively you are using your time. Don’t forget to include personal calls in your work chart and the length of time spent on each call. You will be surprised how chatting with friends can eat up valuable time.
• Get out of the house daily. Working at home can be lonely, especially if you were accustomed to working with other people. Meet clients at their place of business if your business lends itself to that. Call a baby sitter and schedule appointments around lunch or coffee at a coffee house. If you don’t have a scheduled appointment, go out in the afternoon for a walk just to give yourself a break.
• Don’t try to do everything yourself. Call in help for clerical work, proposal and contract writing, marketing or public relations.
• Consider building a network of supportive entrepreneurs that you can be in touch with. This kind of group will help you to keep you inspired and motivated, which will help you meet goals to become, and stay, successful.
Being a home-based entrepreneur is a wonderful way to start a business, and it puts you in more control of your life. It can be financially fulfilling while helping to bring overall balance to your life. You can more easily decide how large or small you want your business to be. I spent the first 10 years of my business life working from home.
Welcome to the world of entrepreneurship, and best wishes for a rewarding and profitable future.
By Gladys Edmunds for USA Today
Gladys Edmunds’ Entrepreneurial Tightrope column appears Wednesdays. As a single, teen-age mom, Gladys made money doing laundry, cooking dinners for taxi drivers and selling fire extinguishers and Bibles door-to-door. Today, Edmunds, founder of Edmunds Travel Consultants in Pittsburgh, is a private coach/consultant in business development and author of There’s No Business Like Your Own Business, published by Viking. For an index of her columns, go to smallbiz.usatoday.com. Her website is www.gladysedmunds.com. You can e-mail her at email@example.com.