Jane Shelton

Jane Shelton

Friday, 31 August 2012 00:00

I’ve just hired my first lot of new staff. Can we all work from my home office?

This article first appeared on December 16th, 2010.

 

I’m running a home-based online retailer and I’m in the process of taking on my first two members of staff.

 

There is space for them to operate from my spare room, but I feel it would be strange and even unprofessional having other people working in my house.

 

Should I get over this or is this a signal that I should look for office space?

 

Every home-based business entrepreneur dreams of the day when, like parents of adolescents, it is time to regain the family home and move family associates out into new premises.

 

The reality is that costs of doing business are lower when you move from a kitchen table enterprise into the foundations of a viable small business.

 

It is great that your business is expanding and that the early signs of success are jolting you into the next phase of your business life, but you need to remember the reason that you started up – the desire to be your own boss and/or do something different rather than becoming the slave of your bank manager.

 

A major consideration for you now is how to go beyond the where and when to the key questions around who are these people.

 

Ask yourself what is the relationship between friends and family who have been on your path to freedom and the people who you are considering as business houseguests.

 

It is important to move towards a clear separation of the costs of doing business and the associates who may assume that they are in control of key elements of your business.

 

This may mean that you are asking the wrong question at this time – you need to go back to both your business plan and your marketing plan to clarify your relationships and resources. The key element of those plans is the three year forward plan.

 

As I say in my book, ‘There's No Workplace Like Home, it is a question of reclaiming your own power to decide the what, when and where of your life.

 

While it may be economically convenient to convert the back room into the business centre of your life, it means that you are less able to separate your personal life from the staff traffic through your living room.

 

Take the time to meet with your team and ask their assistance in finding room to grow. Get them to help find appropriate premises and feel part of the journey to freedom.

 

That way they become more like a business partner and less like a home invasion force.

 

This move requires that you have undertaken a considered view of where you are going, where you want your start-up to grow and retained a focus on a richer and more enjoyable lifestyle in your home and in the new office location.

 

In summary, the signs are right for your move beyond the family home, provided that you have not rushed into financial commitments that are beyond your capacity to manage the transition and the next growth phase in your life.

Dr Jane Shelton is managing director of Marshall Place Associates, Melbourne's independent think tank, and CEO (honorary) for 'Life. Be in it.' International. Jane has written a book called No Workplace Like Home, which seeks to encourage start-up home-based business owners to live more of their lives through running a successful home business.

 

Ask Jane or any other StartupSmart mentor a question here.


Comments (3)

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A third option is to consider if it's more economical to have these employees to work remotely some or all of the time. It isn't mentioned if these employees are "hands-on" (shipping, manufacturing), or administrative/sales. With all the technology currently available for collaborative communication, the third option of remote work/meeting in a co-working space weekly or monthly might be a more optimal interim decision.
Carole S. Bennett , September 03, 2012
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I'll second Carole's advice. Again, without knowing what type of work these employees are doing it might not be the solution but more than likely (with the right mobile employee time tracking software) working remotely is a cost effective and smart solution.
Kelsie , September 05, 2012
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A timely article for me as I have just done this. Luckily for me my home is my own, there are no 'other' family considerations.
I believe as you suggest Jane, that control is the key - having control over your space is imperative.Your ongoing peace and comfort is in your hands. Its your business, you have to carve out a niche for yourself that suits your circumstances. Most of it is intuitive and doesnt need alot of outward planning, diagramming or even consultation.
I would say though, know your staff. You cant know them inside out but know where they come from (so to speak). I'm not a big fan of the traditional resume and references model and recruitment in my experience is mostly hit and miss except for that knowledge. Its easier when the hiring criteria is specific, in my case hiring graduate accountants. Hiring help to do unskilled tasks iS harder as the pool of candidates is very large. I would stick to family and friends in that case until you can put sufficient controls in place to protect your assets and privacy.
Dianne Jewell , September 05, 2012
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