If you are thinking about starting a home-based business, you’re not alone. More and more Americans are choosing to work from home. The Small Business Administration estimates that 1.5 million new home-based businesses are established each year. These stay-at-home entrepreneurs have found that working from home is a satisfying and practical way to do business.
The work-from-home lifestyle may be appealing, but it’s not for everyone—nor is it the right choice for every business. The decision to work from home will affect your home life and the way you do business. Before you decide to set-up shop in your spare bedroom, consider the pros and cons of “bringing home the business.”
- Financial Benefits
You’ll not only earn money by working from home, you’ll also save money. Eliminating the need to rent, furnish and maintain an outside office cuts overhead, enabling home-based businesses to reach their break even point much more quickly. Working from home also enables you to take advantage of the home office deduction, allowing you to keep more of the money you earn.
- Make Better Use of Your Time
Working from home conserves your most valuable resource—time. Just think, if your daily commute is 15 minutes each way, you’ll gain three full workweeks per year by staying at home.
Working from home makes it easier to balance personal and professional responsibilities. Many people start home-based businesses to gain the flexibility to balance work and family needs or to accommodate a health condition.
- Where Do You Draw the Line?
While it may be nice to be able finish typing a letter while you wait for the pasta to boil, if you’re not careful your business will quickly consume your home life. The reverse is also true. You’ll have to set clear boundaries to preserve the sanctity of both your home and your home office.
- How Will it Affect Others?
Consider how your decision will impact those around you. Before you turn your family room, dining room or other space into a home-office, make sure that every member of your household is on board. Kids often must make the greatest concessions to make a home-based arrangement work, so involve them in the decision. Talk it over with neighbors too, especially if you expect any additional traffic or delivery trucks.
- Opening Your Home to Customers
If your business depends on frequent visits from customers, the home environment may not be the best choice for you. Consider the following. Is your home office appropriate for business meetings? Will your customers think it is unprofessional? Will the safety of your self, your family, and your personal belongings be at risk? Is it an intrusion on family members? These are questions that every home-based business owner must address. Our tip sheet, Working From Home: Making it Work For You, will help you make the best of both worlds.
- Zoning—Keep It Legal
Before you hang out your shingle, investigate local zoning restrictions regarding home-based businesses. Don’t assume that your neighborhood is receptive to home-based businesses. While most areas allow small, home-based businesses as long as they don’t disrupt neighbors, cause pollution or create heavy traffic, some place heavy restrictions on home businesses and others prohibit them altogether. Contact your city or county planning office to find out whether or not your proposed business is allowed in your neighborhood.