How should I go about setting up my office at home?
This week’s Secret Soloist answer comes from Jane Shelton, managing director of Marshall Place Associates.
A home office is a new business environment and not just a room in your house.
Modern day life for you and your partner is hectic and it can be horrific if work pressures begin to eat into the shared lifestyle that makes life worthwhile.
If family and friends cannot see your home office as a work space which needs to be respected, there is every chance that you will come to resent their invasion into your business as much as you resent having an unwanted visitor at a family party.
The first key to making your home office comfortable is a routine that brings advisers and friends into your business life rather than into your office space.
Remember that they will have their own pressures and need of your support if they are to remain personal partners in your home and business life.
The next key is to find your place in your local and business neighbourhood so that you are able to leave the office and find new paths to the achievement of your dreams of successful independence.
Ask anyone who has shifted from being a wage slave with a boss to being a prisoner in their home running a start-up business and you will join the crazies club seeking answers to your question.
No, you don’t need a good counsellor or shrink.
What you need to do is to go back to first principles and answer the home business basic questions: Why did I do this? What’s it all about? Who cares enough to share the dream and cut back the sense of isolation and loneliness?
As I suggest in my book, There’s No Workplace Like Home, it is crucial to get your priorities right.
While start-up and medium enterprise firms create two-thirds of new jobs, more often than not the home-based entrepreneur will say that his/her family is the most important reason for setting up the business.
Make sure the home office is just that, an office in your home with all the requisite health and occupational requirements that make it somewhere to go rather than another place to avoid.
The design of the office can keep you going for a couple of weeks if you’re on your own or for a couple of months if you have a considerate partner who is willing to put up with customers and visitors taking over your family home and life.
There is more to it than just converting the former kid’s room into an office, making the necessary structural changes to your home – such as an extra phone line, air conditioning and stocking your home office with more gadgets, paper clips and electronic business systems – or talking to a tax agent about costs.
Now is the time to find a friend, former work associate or a hired business adviser who is willing to help you work through the checklists for a successful small business.
That is not to say that you haven’t done all this a dozen times on your own, but it is essential to have a warm supportive partner who regularly shares the space that you are carving out in your home and family life.
You may be a psychologist setting up a consulting room, a home decorator designing other people’s dreams or an accountant doing the books as a service industry, but customers are going to be a source of personal pressure and not interested in your state of mind, health and happiness.
Finding opportunities is a discovery process that requires that you get out and about to find prospects. The more people you meet outside your house the more business you bring home.
Having a small business is all about finding new ways to meet emerging needs and having the contacts to get new orders that allow you to create a new customer base.
It is vitally important to develop a business life mindset rather than an “at-home and uncomfortable” mentality.
You may need to revise your business and marketing plans to find the fun that made your original moves so fantastic.