One of the biggest challenges of running a home-based business is working within the confines of the home environment. At times, the professional side of working from home seems to be in conflict with the personal side. One major dilemma of working from home is the issue of where to meet with clients and customers. Space, privacy and professionalism are all key considerations. Here are a few alternatives to inviting clients and customers into your home:
- Offer to meet with clients on their turf. If you are not comfortable telling them you work at home, try saying something like, “I have a very small office, do you mind if we meet at yours?”
- Arrange to meet with clients for lunch or coffee. Other popular, no-cost solutions include hotel lobbies and the public library. Before you suggest a meeting place, remember to find out whether or not it is accessible—this could save embarrassment later.
- Offer pickup and delivery services. This will often eliminate the need for customers to come to your home office.
- A good bit of the business that is conducted face-to-face could be accomplished more efficiently in other ways. Consider how you could make better use of telephone conference calls, faxes, email, courier services, and overnight delivery.
- Rent a corner of someone else’s office or storefront. Better yet, offer them your services in exchange for some space.
- Find other business owners with similar needs and pool your resources to rent meeting space. Perhaps you could even share a secretary.
- Use a copy center. Today’s copy centers provide more than just copies—most offer videoconferencing facilities, a full range of computer services, desktop publishing, fax, and more.
- Rent a suite or meeting room in a hotel.
- Look into an executive office suite. Rent a fully appointed office, meeting room or conference facility by the hour, day, week or month. Executive office suites also enable you to create a virtual office—use their address to receive mail and deliveries, have their receptionist answer your calls, and even use their secretarial services.