You may not have always thought about running an internet-based business from your home. However, doing so presents excellent opportunities that didn’t exist before technology made it easy to maintain productivity from virtually anywhere. Maybe your workplace conducted layoffs due to the COVID-19 crisis, and you’re now out of a job. That’s an unquestionably difficult situation, but making money from home could be a viable option that brings you immense enjoyment.
Launching a business from home does require a transition period for most people. Here are some ways that you can get off on the right foot.
1. Set Expectations About Your Business Hours
If clients know you’re doing business from home via the internet, they may get the impression that those things mean you’re always available to answer their questions. They may not assume you’re perpetually in front of your computer waiting to assist them but could forget that perhaps you’re in a different time zone and won’t respond to them in the middle of the night.
One easy way to keep people informed is to create an auto-response message that says something like, “Business hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern time, Monday-Friday. You can expect a response within two hours during those days and times.”
2. Verify You Have a Reliable Internet Connection
Once you decide to operate an online business from home through the internet, it’s crucial to check that you have adequate connectivity. Most of your clients will probably understand if you have occasional internet outages due to strong storms or something else outside your control. However, they’ll likely start feeling frustrated if internet issues become the norm.
If internet problems already happen frequently, aim to address those before taking a deep dive into working from home. Another option is to have a backup — such as a mobile hot spot — to use in case your main source of internet access goes down. If going that route, purchase the service from a provider other than your primary company. That way, you can deal with brand-wide outages.
3. Create a Comfortable Environment
Turning part of your abode into a workspace requires an all-encompassing effort focused on your comfort and productivity. Aspects like the lighting, your chair and the height of your monitor can all play essential roles in maintaining proper body alignment and making the foundations for a fruitful time as an online business owner.
Besides possibly buying new furniture and accessories, you should also explore the possibility of revamping the room. For example, if you notice issues such as leaks or inner fog in a double-paned window, those signs indicate you need a replacement.
Many modern double-pane options feature inner-pane argon gas and low-E coatings. Those boost energy efficiency and improve the insulation quality of the glass, leading to more comfort and lower energy bills.
4. Understand the Tax Benefits
There are some tax advantages that you may qualify for when running your online business at home. For example, you can take deductions related to your home office, but only if you use that area of your home exclusively for things pertaining to the company.
The deductions also extend to things you may not expect. If you attend a virtual seminar to learn strategies for business success, it’s something you could probably write off on your taxes.
Filing your taxes for the first time as someone who makes a living from home can be a bit daunting, but it’s much easier with accurate recordkeeping. Consider having a dedicated folder for all your business receipts. That way, you don’t have to scramble to find them when tax time rolls around. Getting professional help from an accountant can also increase the likelihood of filing everything accurately and getting all your tax entitlements.
5. Help Payment Speeds Work in Your Favor
Timely payments are undoubtedly crucial for your online business. There are a number of reasons why payments could come later than you expect. However, it’s easier than you may think to reduce the chances of that happening. Sometimes, clients simply forget about the invoices you send, especially if they have a lot going on besides needing to pay you. Solving that problem is often as easy as sending periodic invoice reminders.
Perhaps the client or the person from a company you deal with most often is not the party directly responsible for getting the money to you. Then, the best approach is to get to know whoever is and see if there’s anything you could do to make their life easier and speed up the process.
Ensure you understand your payment terms, too. Net-30 is common, but it means people have 30 days to pay after getting the invoice. Making the invoice due on receipt shortens that time.
6. Strike a Healthy Work-Life Balance
When you both live and work in your home, it’s exceptionally important to have clear distinctions between the two. Otherwise — even if you tell clients your business hours as suggested above — you’ll risk falling into the trap of “taking just a few minutes” to complete a project outside of your work time and finding you actually have very little time to yourself. By taking some simple steps, you’ll be able to get stuff done without sacrificing your much-needed downtime.
One easy thing is to take a lunch break and not eat at your desk. Get out of your office and tell yourself you can eat without feeling stressed or rushed. It’s challenging to have that mindset if you’re working under a tight deadline. Do it as often as possible, though.
Go through steps like shutting down your computer and turning off the light in your office at the end of the day, too. Those are cues to yourself that you’ve finished working and can unwind.
7. Practice Self-Kindness
Setting goals for yourself is an excellent way to continually progress as you work from home. Having milestones to reach can keep you motivated and advancing in your career as an online at-home entrepreneur.
However, there will inevitably be some days where you fall short, and things don’t go as planned. That’s natural due to life’s unpredictability. Set your sights on what you want to achieve, but be kind to yourself no matter what — particularly when feeling fed up, inadequate or overwhelmed. Focus on what did go well rather than getting too caught up in the perceived failures.
Success Is in Your Reach
These tips will help you start strong as you begin an online business from home. Consider applying some or all of them to your internet-based enterprise to positively impact your experience and steer clear of some common pitfalls. Powerful Tips To Drive Your Start-Up Towards SuccessThese tips will help you start strong as you begin an online business from home. Consider applying some or all of them to your internet-based enterprise to positively impact your experience and steer clear of some common pitfalls.
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About the Author
Lexie is a UX designer and IoT enthusiast. She enjoys hiking her Goldendoodle and creating new fudge recipes. Visit her design blog, Design Roast, and connect with her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.