Running a business from home: What to consider

The FSB shares five things to watch out for when working from home, from getting the right tech to making time to network…

The government has identified home businesses as one of the key areas with the potential to grow the UK economy and has sought to make it even easier to start an enterprise from home.

Around four million people in the UK now work from home, nearly 14% of the working population.

For many the goal is to achieve a better work/life balance, but technological advancement has also made it possible to compete just as well from home as from commercial offices. Home businesses can also offer huge cost savings, primarily due to the significantly lower overheads and the removal of increasingly expensive commuting costs.

However, there are difficulties when working from home too. It’s often harder to concentrate, your bills will be higher if you’re at home all day and sometimes it’s difficult to switch off if you don’t physically leave work.

Whether you’ve already started to work from home or are seriously considering it, here are some important points to consider.

Making the best use of space

Working from home allows you greater flexibility, especially if you have a family. However, keeping focussed on business issues throughout your working day is crucial to ensure you’re a success.

Think about the best space to work in your home. Where will you be able to concentrate without any distractions? Is there an area away from your family where you’ll be able to focus on work and make phone or video calls without interruptions? If you’re planning to work in a communal living area, how will you manage your family or friends who want to use it while you’re working? Don’t underestimate the importance of having a professional working environment. An area that inspires work, free of clutter and household mess will help you concentrate on your work and be a good place to hold client meetings.

Some basic office solutions include investing in a good office chair to increase your productivity, effective storage solutions to keep organised and making sure you have reliable technology such as a phone, computer, printer and scanner.

Invest in equipment

While there is no rule book when it comes to setting up your home office, having the right equipment is vital. It’s worthwhile sourcing the best equipment and software to ensure you don’t get left behind your competitors. If you’re unfamiliar with any aspect of the technology, consider attending a course that will show you how to use it.

If you find your budget won’t stretch far enough for the equipment you need, look at services which can help provide money upfront. For example, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) Cash Advance Service offers money upfront and repayments can be made through future credit and debit card transactions or via fixed direct debit.

Don’t be a stranger

Working remotely can hinder the building of workplace relationships or chances to meet new people. It is important to make sure you still engage with the wider business community. Force yourself out of the home office; for a coffee with a client, lunch with a colleague or attend a local business event. Networking events run by FSB in regions across the UK are seen as one of the biggest benefits for our members who can do business and socialise with likeminded professionals.

If time doesn’t allow and it often doesn’t, make sure that you pick up the phone more instead of just firing off an email.

Get insurance

Alongside any home insurance you have, there’s also special types insurance you need to consider if you run your own business. These include; Public, Employers’ and Liability, Material Damage, Personal accident and assault cover, and Deterioration of stock.

Watch your energy costs

Energy represents a substantial cost for the majority of small businesses and yet 70% of businesses experience difficulty comparing energy tariffs. Your bills will go up if you’re at home all day so it’s worth looking at the options.

Setting up a business at home has many benefits but also many challenges that can be very time-consuming for business owners so it’s worthwhile seeking support.

One low-cost way of doing this is to join a business membership organisation such as FSB, where home businesses can access the support they need to make their business a success.

Get in touch to find out how else FSB can help – www.fsb.org.uk

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