Are you considering starting a home-based business—or moving your existing business home? There are many benefits of running your business from home, including saving on overhead, eliminating your commute and even helping the planet by cutting back on pollution because your business has a smaller carbon footprint.
Small business owners who started companies at home are overwhelmingly positive about the experience, according to a recent study by PlanetSoho. Nearly half (46 percent) of respondents say they get to spend more time with friends and family since starting a home-based business. Thirty-seven percent say they sleep better, and 41 percent appreciate not having to commute to work. Working at home typically allows for more flexibility, and 61 percent of small business owners in the study say they love getting to set their own schedules.
When I first started writing about small business many years ago, the concept of home-based business wasn’t even on people’s radar. Even as the advent of new, affordable technologies such as personal computers, fax machines, and voicemail made home-based business possible in the late 1980s and early 1990, small business owners who worked from home were still eager to hide that fact. They devoted lots of energy to making themselves seem like big businesses.
Today, the tables have turned so far that if you tell people you run a home-based business, they’re likely to express envy and say, “I wish I could do that!” or ask you for tips. The most popular startups in the PlanetSoho survey included computer and Internet-related businesses, and marketing/advertising and consulting companies, but almost any type of business can now be run from home.
If you’re considering running your business from home, here are some issues to think about:
- Do you have a space to devote to business? The kitchen table won’t suffice for long, so make sure you can carve out an area for yourself.
- Do you need to meet with clients? If your home isn’t a suitable meeting place, figure out alternatives such as meeting clients at their offices or renting shared office space on an as-needed basis.
- Is your home zoned for business? Even if you’re starting a low-profile business like consulting, check with your city’s zoning board first. All it takes is one grumpy neighbor’s complaint, and your business could get nipped in the bud before you even start.
- Is your family on board? Having a business in the home is disruptive, no doubt about it—so make sure you’ve got the support of your nearest and dearest.
The mentors at SCORE can help you pinpoint other issues that could hinder your home-based business, and figure out solutions. Don’t have a mentor? Visit www.score.org to get matched with one today and get free advice and counseling 24/7.