Tuesday, March 29, 2011

5 tips for the Home-Based Entrepreneur

People often struggle with how to be a successful entrepreneur based out of their home. The distractions are many, but the rewards are great! As with all entrepreneurial success, working from your home requires some upfront planning and discipline colored with your personal priorities and style.

1. Set up an office. Designate a space that is your own, preferably with a door, with your desk and equipment, a good chair, files, and everything that you need set up for maximum efficiency. That doesn’t mean that you always have to work from that spot, but when one son is practicing his drums and the other is on the guitar, it is nice to have a place to retreat to which is promotes concentration.

2. Invest in technology. Nothing wears you down faster than having to walk to a different room to plug into your printer every time you need to print a document. Set your house up with wireless technology. Purchase multiple monitors if that makes your work more efficient. Invest in the software you need. New solutions and improvements are developed daily which simplify the tasks at hand.

3. Know yourself. Understand your moods. Know the times of the day that you work the best, and schedule your work activities around that. I wake up in the morning with my mind already thinking about the day’s issues. On days that I am not scheduled with morning clients, I often grab a cup of coffee and start my day working on my laptop from my bed. I can accomplish a lot between 6:30-8:30 from that comfy location. In fact, that’s what I’m doing right now! Then I take a break to exercise and get dressed for the day before I start in again for another couple hours of concentrated work. Some days I pause my workday at 3 pm to drive children and make dinner, but then use the evening hours to finish up any research or reading that is needed while my children are doing their homework and my husband is reading as well. My point is that while my workday may look random and disjointed, it is actually a well-laid out schedule of activities placed during their most effective windows of time.

4. Block time on your calendar. This is an old Stephen Covey tip which I like to jazz up with color coding. Block off your income-generating work related activities in one color (client work, client meetings, etc.). Block off time for working on your own business in another color (your own marketing, accounting, strategy work, etc.). In a third color block off time every week for your important relationships (spouse, children, friends). In a fourth color block off time for community involvement. And in a fifth color block off time for you! The color coding is an effective way to see that you are building balance into your life which will help sustain your entrepreneurial spirit.

5. Focus. Work from daily priority lists to help you work with a purpose. When you sit down to work for a two hour window, make sure that you know what task (or tasks if you need variety) you are going to accomplish and then don’t let yourself get distracted by phone calls, e-mails, or interesting articles. This is not the time to change a load of laundry or load the dishwasher. You save those tasks for your breaks. You can judge what is considered worthy of an interruption, so hold yourself accountable. After all, you are your own boss, so hold yourself to the same standards that you would expect of your employees!

Although it doesn’t work for all personalities, with some planning and discipline you can successfully run your business from your home.

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