I have to say that the decision to stop commuting and start my own business was one of the best choices I have ever made. I did briefly consider renting an office close to home, but decided that it was an unnecessary expense and rather defeated the object, as my main incentive for striking out on my own was to spend more time at home with my children. I camped out on the dinning room table for a little while, whilst I had a shed/office built. It was a lovely office, but I did feel a bit isolated, sat at the bottom of the garden like a sad little gnome! But as luck would have it, one of my sons did fancy living at the bottom of the garden, so we swapped, he is now a happy little garden gnome, entertaining friends in his uber chic pad and I have a cosy little room at the top of the house with views of trees and the neighbours! You may think this to be a lovely little anecdote with a happy ending and of course a gnome (all anecdotes should include a gnome), but no, finding a space to work is just the beginning ….
Having moved into to my office, purchased matching accessories and made a stationery order to match that of a multi national company. I set about actually doing some work. Now this article may have a humorous tone but we all know that finding the money to pay the bills is not a laughing matter, although I did laugh out loud at my last electricity bill! Once one has jumped ship as it were, there is no hiding behind the HR dept, no boss to blame and no set payday to wait for. The business, your business has to pay its way and quickly. The only way for this to happen is with hard work and copious amounts of red wine, well maybe not the latter but definitely hard work. The only way to make money is to sit at your desk and do the things that people have paid you to do and to do them well enough that they tell their friends etc etc etc …
Here is my list of tips for working at home, many of them I have learnt the hard way
1. Phil and Holly are not talking directly to you, so there is no need to sit and watch the whole show.
2. Set your ducks in a row, keep paperwork in order, a filing cabinet is a sound investment.
3. keep office hours, its fine to take a couple of hours to go shopping once in a while, but set hours for working will keep you in the right frame of mind.
4. Make social plans around your working hours, just as you would if you went out to work.
5. Inform family and friends that just because you are at home, you may not be available and to call before they just drop in. (Dad, are you listening?).
6. Take a flask of coffee/tea to your desk, a trip to the kettle can often lead to an emergency defrost of the fridge or a 'I'll just give Aunty Mavis a call'
7. Taking a lunch break is a must, one cannot work on an empty stomach, it is also necessary to take a break from the computer screen.
8. The best way to have a good idea is to step away from the laptop, I got a dog and a greenhouse for this very reason. A brisk walk in the fresh air does wonders for creativity.
9. Use other freelancers, let someone else do those boring accounts, hire a VA on an hourly basis for busy times and get on with growing your business.
10. Once you have closed your office, mentally switch off too, give your family your undivided attention, after all they are the reason that most of us chose to work at home.