Could you run your business from home?
Many freelancers and small business owners/operators manage their businesses from home.
Businesses that can be run from home
Your business can be managed and operated from
- You are selling goods or services that can be sold online
via a website, so you don’t need a physical shopfront
- You are selling goods or services that need face to face contact
with customers, but can set up a suitable meeting space and workspace
in your home
- Your home includes suitable buildings/rooms for the work areas you need to conduct your business
- You are able to make changes to your property if required to set up a suitable workspace
- You don’t have any employees; or if you do, your business meets the legal and insurance requirements regarding employees
- You meet any other legal requirements; e.g.
you may need local council permits to
conduct business from your home.
Home-based vs an external work space
Whether it makes better business sense to conduct your business from your own home or another property depends on:
- What your business is selling and who its customers are
- Whether you are targeting online, or face to face, customers
- Whether you could create the type of workspace you need in your home
- How much money is available to set up your business
- Cost of operating your business from home versus an external workspace
- What best suits your personal life and lifestyle.
A small business that relies on selling goods or services to customers face to face usually needs to conduct their business in a location where customers will either be walking by, or won’t mind going to for whatever they want to buy. However, these days, many businesses that would have traditionally sold their goods or services face-to-face are now conducting their businesses online.
Do you have a suitable work space at home?
Whether you’ll be able to run your business from home depends on whether you have, or can create, a suitable work space at home. Depending on what your business involves, you may need:
- An office large enough to house your desk, computer equipment and any other office equipment you need to operate your business. Whether you work entirely online or customers visit your office, your workspace needs to be reasonably neat and tidy and it’s a good idea to keep personal/family items outside this workspace so that when you’re at work in your office, it looks and feels like an office, not part of your home. Businesses that need only an office workspace to manage and conduct their business include writers, editors, proofreaders and online transcriptionists.
- If you need to meet with people face to face, your office space will need to be large enough to fit one or two other people as well as yourself in the office. Alternatively, you could use another room in the house as a dedicated meeting room, or conduct meetings in another location (e.g. a meeting room in town).
- You may need a workspace that is not an office. If you do, how large it needs to be and whether it’s in the house, shed or in the back yard will depend on your business. You may set up an office in one room for managing your business and a separate workspace to conduct your business, or you may include your office space in a corner of your main work room. Businesses that need a workspace for storage or to conduct their business from home include caterers, masseurs, mechanics, artists, carpenters; farmers or producers of fruit, vegetables or eggs; online retailers of gifts, clothing or other products.
- Some people provide some services online from a home-based office but conduct the rest of their business in a separate location. E.g. a chicken farmer whose farm is in another location, a builder who works on other people’s properties, an OH&S consultant who travels to various offices and factories but manages their business from home.
Pros and cons of working from home
Conducting your business from a home-based workspace/office has many benefits but there are challenges, and not everyone has the type of lifestyle or business that is suited to working from home. Check out some of my other articles where I discuss the pros and cons of working from home and how to maintain good work/life balance when working from home.
This article is based on my own experiences since starting On Time Typing as a small (sole trader) online/onsite scribing business in 2002 which has evolved into a scribing, writing, editing, proofreading and assisted self-publishing business providing services across Australia.
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