It’s estimated there are 18.3 million home-based businesses in the U.S., and if you own one of them you know the joy of not having to commute, being able to set your own hours, and saving money on the infrastructure and overhead costs of an office. However, running a business from home also makes you prey to all the distractions of being at home, such as family responsibilities, chatty neighbors and the temptation of the refrigerator and/or TV set. There are so many time wasters to be found at home, in fact, that it takes discipline and a well-thought-out plan to stay productive. Here are some ideas to help:
No Kidding Around: If you have young children still at home, you’ll need to devise a solution for childcare, at least during core business hours. Hire a babysitter or nanny, start a child-care co-op with other home-based business owners, or send the kids to an outside day-care provider. The good news is, childcare gets easier as kids get older and more self-sufficient, and an office separate from the hub of family activities can help you stay focused.
It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: Sometimes when neighbors find out you work from home, they expect you do them favors, such as letting the cable guy or a contractor into their homes. Be firm and let them know that you are running a business and are not available to handle their domestic duties.
Set the Clock: Working from home allows you to set your own hours, but it could also lead to a scattered schedule where you don’t get anything done. If you budget a specific amount of time to complete each task, you’ll find it easier to stay productive and focused. Working long hours is a common problem home-based entrepreneurs face, so make sure you take breaks and try to have an actual end to your work day.
Allow Yourself Downtime: Office life is full of built-in breaks like going on a Starbucks run, chatting with coworkers or walking to meetings, which you don't enjoy when you work from home. It’s important to schedule some time to surf the Web for fun, check in on Facebook or take a coffee break. If you make time for yourself, it will be easier to stay focused during your highly productive time.
Change the Scenery: Get out of the house for at least a short time every day, whether to meet a friend or colleague for lunch, exercise or even run to the office supply store. It will give your brain (and body) a change of pace. Stressed about too much work to do? Get out to meet a client in person instead of by videoconference. Customers always appreciate a face-to-face encounter, and you’ll feel good just getting a change of scenery.
Want more tips on making your home-based business as strong as possible? Check out the article "Protecting Your Home-Based Business with Insurance."
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at [email protected], follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.