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It is now very possible to run your business from your home and it is the norm for many people. There are plenty advantages and disadvantages to this set up and so preparation, planning and a bit of discipline can make all the difference.
Insomnia, Newstalk and my Dragons Den investments mean that I have a variety of projects on the go at one time and work from several spaces. In recent years, I decided to become Chairman of Insomnia and to hand the day to day working of the business over to my partners. I now work 2 days a week in Insomnia. This transition was difficult at first.
The first thing I did was to set up a new office as well as my office in Insomnia. This means that when I go to work in Insomnia I try to focus only on Insomnia business and when I am in my office on Baggot Street I work on all my other business interests. This has resulted in me being more focused and organised regardless of which part of my business life I am working in.
I have also set up an office at home and spend time working at Newstalk so in effect I have 4 work places. It has thought me the importance of organisation and discipline – two skills that are crucial if you have chosen to work from home.
If you work from home check out some of my tips, all designed to help you get the most out of working from home:
1. Set up a proper office.
Make sure you have strong broadband connection, a good laptop and you have space to keep proper work files. Any home administration can also be carried out from this dedicated work space but make sure all personal files have their own separate area away from your business.
2. No blurring of Home and work.
If you are running your business from your home make sure that all business costs are properly identified and kept out of the home budget. Examples of this would be phone bills or ESB bills if you were running a workshop from your garage. If you are using an office at home for administration you can apportion a part of the utility bills for the office to your business use ie ESB etc. So keep a copy of these and your bookkeeper/accountant will advise you, when they are doing the final year accounts, what portion of these bills can be attributed to your business.
3. Keep your work area tidy.
Walk away from your desk leaving it tidy on, say Friday evening. Mentally you can now walk out of your office knowing that you have finished everything and you will find it easier to get started back at your desk on Monday morning.
4. Get up early and go to work.
I am an early riser and I like to get ahead of the day by starting early. I use the three lists of three. The first list has three things I will do today. The second list is three things you would like to get done and the third lists are three things that need to be done at some stage.
5. Dress appropriately for the type of work you do.
You will not function properly if you are unshaven in your pyjamas. You might also have to go and visit the Bank manager.
6. Keep the door closed.
Make sure that others in the house know you are at work. This will keep interruptions to a minimum.
7. Make exercise part of your day.
If you are no longer commuting to work there may be an added benefit that your day is two or 3 hours longer. Use this new time to exercise. I often go for a cycle around Kiliney and Dalkey very early before I start work. I find this a real benefit as I can sort out a lot of issues in my head while exercising before I start work.
8. Do your invoicing or billing daily or weekly.
This will help you keep on top of your administration. It will also help keep you more focused on revenue because that is the reason you are working in the first place.
9. Keep in touch with people.
Make sure you stay in touch with old colleagues or people who work in similar roles to your own. This will be a real motivator for you.
10. Try to make time for people.
I try to respond to all my emails even though sometimes it’s difficult. You will find that most people will respond with the same courtesy.
11. Take breaks and eat well.
Don’t “comfort eat” just because the fridge is in the next room. If this becomes a problem keep less temptation in the fridge or biscuit press.
12. When you are finished finish.
No quick checking of emails at 2am.
13. Don’t become a slave to your work.
Turn off your computer and allow time for friends and family. It’s all about balance.