As more and more women go into business for themselves, more and more women are working from home because a home office tends to be the most affordable, convenient option for budding entrepreneurs. Working from home offers other benefits, too, like eliminating your commute and freeing you from the distractions of co-workers and shared office space. That said, working from home can prove more challenging than it looks at first glance. Here are 6 ways to make working from home work for your business.
1. Designate an Office Space
This is step #1 for successfully conducting your business from home. Dedicating a specific space at home for work separates your work life from home life, keeping you focused and serious about your business. Having a space that is designated solely for work is also a great way to eliminate distractions.
2. Keep Regular Hours
Structure is important when you’re an entrepreneur. A budding business requires you to wear many hats and your mind may be all over the map throughout your workday, so it’s important to add structure and routine wherever possible to keep yourself on track and organized. Keeping regular office hours provides the structure of time through an official work-day, and also holds you accountable for showing up each day.
3. Hire Help
Even Superwoman only has one set of hands and 24 hours in a day! As intelligent, capable, ambitious women we tend to do everything on our own. Even if multitasking is a strength of yours, attempting to do it all and run your own business simply won’t work. If any of the following apply to you, you need to hire help!
- You’re a work at home mom with young kids in the house.
- Your business involves so much work that you never find time to complete your day’s to-do list.
- Your business can’t move forward because you’re stalled in an area where you have no knowledge or skills (branding, business legal structure, content creation, bookkeeping).
- Your office is at home and you can’t make a trip to the restroom or go to the kitchen for a drink of water without throwing in a load of laundry or wiping down the kitchen table.
If any of this sounds like you—or if you just know you’re trying to do too much—hire help! Virtual assistants can partner with you to complete more work in less time and can also offer advice and consultation when you feel stuck. If you’re the mother of young kids, you simply can’t give your kids and your business the attention they require at the same time; hiring a nanny for even a few hours a day will help you focus and doesn’t have to break the bank. If your office is at home and you can’t stand the sight of dirty dishes, hire a housekeeper to come an once a week or an hour a day—whatever you need to keep you sane and ensure that you stay in your office as much as possible during working hours.
4. Dress for Success
As tempting as it is to stay in your pajamas all day long and forget to brush your teeth when you’re working from home, make the effort to prepare for work in the morning as if you were headed to a shared office. Dressing for success isn’t just effective in the corporate office—dressing professionally and presenting yourself well at work (because you are at work when your office is at home!) will help you stay focused, sharp, and motivated.
5. Schedule In-Person Meetings
Successful businesses are connected—to clients, prospects, other businesses, and a network of professionals and peers. Because it can be isolating to stay at home and women who work at home may form an introverted habit of talking only over email or the phone, it’s important to schedule some face-to-face meetings to keep your relationships alive and demonstrate your professional commitment.
6. Keep Up with New Technology
Web-based software and applications made specifically for virtual workers and entrepreneurs (like GoToMeeting, Google+ Hangouts, TeamViewer, Asana, and various scheduling software) are popping up all over the place. As more and more individuals work independently and virtually, the technology will only get better. Staying on top of these technologies as they develop will save you time—because you’ll be in the know about new, more efficient versions of applications—and keep you connected by giving you many options for accessing resources, networking, conducting meetings online, and managing business operations. If you go faint at the thought of learning a new program, hire a virtual assistant specializing in the type of application you need to advise you on what software to choose and teach you how to use it.