Working from home. It sounds like a dream! You can stay in your pajamas, have meetings in bed and generally be relaxed, right? Well, maybe. Many entrepreneurs find that when they are working from home they need to get dressed — even if it’s jeans and a t-shirt, comb their hair, brush their teeth and act as though they are going to an office. How to set up a successful home office is something not too many new entrepreneurs consider.
Sure you can work from the corner of the kitchen table, but do you want to? Can you have client phone calls in the middle of dinner chaos? To truly feel as though you’re running your own business you need to treat it, and yourself and your workspace as viable entities.
How to set up a successful home office
Set up a work space that is yours and yours alone. It is all right to grab an end of the kitchen table when you’re just starting out, but when you claim your own space you are on the path to taking your business more seriously. Find a space — even the corner of a spare bedroom, set it up to feel like an office and work from there.
Meet customers outside of your home when it’s required. Don’t bring a client or customer into the chaos of your home or into your cramped spare bedroom office. Rent a co-working space for a day. Ask a friend who owns an office if there is space you could use for the occasional client meeting. Meet at a nearby coffee shop.
Set work hours. If you don’t want to be working 24/7 you need to establish office hours. Let clients know when you will be available. More importantly, let your family and friends know when you’re working and that you don’t want to be disturbed. If you don’t establish hours and guard them, no one will respect that you have office hours.
Hire a sitter. You can’t run a business if you’re hoping to schedule client calls when your children nap. What if you schedule a call and that is the day your child won’t sleep? Even if you only claim one day a week as child-free you need to do this in order to get your work done. Same goes with pets — you don’t want dogs barking in the background of an important client call, either.
Know yourself and know what will make you feel like a “real” business owner — because you are one! Claim your space and set up a successful home office.
Do you consider your home office a success? If not, why not? If so, what makes it that way?
If you’re an entrepreneur operating in a vacuum, chances are you’re feeling stagnant. No one, especially an entrepreneur, should work alone. Entrepreneurs need someone to bounce ideas off of. They need to have someone to whom to be accountable. Should you have a business partner? Maybe you don’t need a partner, but you may want an accountability partner or referral partners.
You probably started your business because of a particular area of expertise and have and a niche at which you’re extremely skilled. Do you know how to do everything required to run a successful business? If you don’t or if you’re not sure, you may need to find a referral partner or an accountability partner.
What do you do with the tasks at which you’re not skilled, like marketing, design or bookkeeping, for example? If you try to do it all, without relying on the strength of trusted partners, you will spread yourself too thin. Look at those items that are not within your core competency that are taking you away from your business and find a way to outsource or partner with someone who can help you with what you aren’t great at and who would benefit from your expertise.
Should You Have A Business Partner?
- What do you need in a business partnership? What skills do you want your business partner to bring to the table? What do you have to offer in return?
- Spend time getting to know your potential business partner. Don’t just jump into a relationship simply because you feel the need to find someone, anyone. A business partnership requires mutual trust.
- Virtual or face-fo-face partnership? With today’s technology you can certainly find a business partner who doesn’t live in your city or state. You do need to have expectations for communication — how often, for how long and an agenda to make the calls mutually beneficial and useful.
Do you need a business partner? What are the pros and cons to you and for your potential business partner? Determine that and move forward.
Many entrepreneurs look at the day after Labor Day as the “second New Year.” When the kids go back to school and you’re staring down the barrel of the last quarter, it’s time to re-evaluate your goals and take steps to make sure you meet your 2018 goals. End the year strong and profitable.
Goal setting isn’t just a January 1 option. Goal setting is something entrepreneurs need to do regularly. Your goals are a living, breathing entity that need nurturing and regular check-ins to assure you are on track for meeting them.
How close are you to ending the year strong? How close are you to achieving what you’d set out to do on January 1?
Meet Your 2018 Goals
How can re-invigorate the goals you’d set in January? Don’t tell yourself, “I only have three months until the end of the year, I can’t make it happen.” Instead, tell yourself, “I have three months until the end of the year and I CAN make it happen.” Attitude is everything.
Let’s revisit your goals
- Were your goals concrete? If you look at them now, were they vague or did they give you a clear cut path toward completion? Don’t set goals that set you up for failure.
- Were the goals written down? If you’ve just been “telling” yourself, I need to finish XYZ, but not writing down XYZ, chances are it won’t get done. A goal that is not written down is just talk and other items will step into your life and take precedence.
- To whom are you accountable? Announce your goal to others. Find an accountability partner to whom you can connect and discuss your progress. Be accountable to someone other than yourself if that’s what you need ot help you achieve your goals.
Work it. If you’re writing down goals and looking at them regularly but not making any progress toward complete, what are you waiting for? Get to work now! End the year strong so you can face 2019 feeling like you’ve scaled that once seeming insurmountable mountain.
What goals should you focus on to end the year strong? If you’re not sure what to prioritize or how to prioritize, reach out and I can walk you through the goal-setting process.
Are there “secrets” to success? Not really. We believe that hard work, skill, a bit of luck and relationships are the key to success for business owners. There are some steps you can take to help enhance your ability to succeed and we have 5 tips for small business success that we want to pass along.
There are many other tips we can give, and will, in future articles, but for now, here are a few to get you started. These tips are ideal for new entrepreneurs or solopreneurs and are ideal as a refresher for long-time business owners.
5 Tips For Small Business Success
- Know what you’re getting into. Owning and operating a business is hard work. There is no way around that and there is no easy way out of it. Unless you are flush with cash and can hire a crew to do everything for you, you will put in long hours and sweat equity. Be prepared. Did you know: 50% of all start ups will fail with in five years because the owner didn’t know how much work and how many hours it would take? Shocking, but true.
- Have customers before you jump ship into business ownership. Don’t start behind the eight ball where you have to scramble to make money. Start small. You may need to work your business as a side hustle until it’s ready to launch and can potentially support you.
- Have money in the bank. Operating a new business on a shoestring is advice we offer, but you do need to pay the rent, put food on the table and handle your other expenses. Until your business makes money you need to have that back up plan to pay your bills. Work to build a cushion of cash before you make the leap.
- Work on a shoestring. As mentioned above, you don’t need to rent fancy office space when you’re starting out. Utilize the corner coffee shop or rent a co-working space for meetings. Be frugal and save your money.
- Be flexible. In your business plan you need to build in flexibility and be able adapt when necessary. Business ownership is not a straight line trajectory. There are offshoots and misdirections and u-turns; be prepared for these.
What do you wish you’d known when you started your business? We’d love to know.
We’ve heard that computer manufacturers are seeing declines in the sales of computers and that’s been attributed to the power that we hold in our hands in our smartphones. Do you run your business from your smartphone? Many of us check email, make reservations and communicate with clients through their phones. Do you?
Are you using your smartphone with, perhaps, an extermal keyboard that essentially turns the phone into a computer that allows you to work on documents and perform other actions you may have only once done at your computer? If so, you’re not alone.
Do You Run Your Business From Your Smartphone?
With new phones hitting the market that are in the $1,000 range, it’s easy to see why you’d be looking at your phone to perform at a higher level than you may have in the past.
If you’re running your business from your phone, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Use apps from reputable companies. You can perform word processing with Microsoft, Apple and Google apps right from your phone.
- If you’re using your phone for business, you need to password protect the phone AND your apps and documents.
- Invest in insurance and back up your phone. This business device needs to be protected from loss or damage and you need to be able to access your information if the phone is lost, stolen or damaged.
Here are some apps we love:
- Receive payments from Square, PayPal Here, Quickbooks and others.
- Manage your money with QuickBooks, Excel programs, Wave and Intuit Online.
- Keep track of your schedule with a Google Calendar, Acuity Scheduling, Timely.
- Track customer relations with apps such as Zoho CRM, Salesforce or Infusionsoft.
- Document sharing and storage apps include, Google Drive, Hightail Spaces, Dropbox and others.
This is a very short list of apps you can install to help you run your business from your smartphone.
One thing we do caution — when you run your business from your smartphone you have continual access to your “office” in the palm of your hand. When this occurs you need to be diligent in turning the phone off and stepping away from the “office” so you remember to have a life!
Many entrepreneurs find their personal and their private lives and their relationships suffer when they jump into business ownership. Can you have a business and a life? You can. It’s all about balance and that is hard to master when you’re just starting out — especially if you’re going it alone.
Balance in all things is necessary to keep your business up and running. You need to work on the business, but you need to take care of yourself. If your health suffers, the business will suffer. It may take time and planning to “have it all” but it can be done!
Can You Have A Business And A Life?
- Keep the drama to a minimum. Yes, there will be drama and a roller coaster feel to any start up. Don’t pull your significant other into it, unless it’s necessary. Yes, you want to share. Yes, you want to ask for help, but don’t drag them onto every piece of the roller coast ride that is entrepreneurship unless they’ve asked to accompany you.
- Find a dedicated space for your work and your business. If you don’t have space in your home for a dedicated office, you need to at least conduct your business where you’re not on the path of every day life. If your kitchen table is your command center during the day but it’s dinner table and homework central at night, you need to pick up your business and move it to a different location when the next “shift” starts.
- Spend time together that has nothing to do with business. Don’t answer the phone. Don’t talk about work. Enjoy each other’s company and keep work at bay.
- Be in the moment. Just as you need to spend time together, you also need to be in the moment when you’re with your significant other and friends and family.
- Keep business and family finances separate. This is likely an IRS rule as well as a good rule of thumb. Don’t drain the family grocery budget because you need printer ink.
- Give yourself a paycheck from the business. You need to feel as though you’re a contributing member of the family and a paycheck will give you faith in your business and to keep moving forward.
- Don’t make major purchases or investments without talking to your significant other about it. If you’re committing to a one year lease on an office or buying a majore piece of equipment even though it’s a business expense, it may impact your home life — talk about it.
It is more than possible to be a successful business owner and have a life. How can we help you cultivate a healthy balance?