Running a business from home
There are a number of factors that make this the age of entrepreneurial thinking, not least of which is a turbulent economic climate that is forcing many school leavers, and an increasing number of unemployed South Africans, to test the SMME waters.
Many of these adventurers start their businesses from home, which has its pros and cons, and these must be well thought-out before taking over the garage or spare bedroom. “There are definite advantages to running one’s business from home,” says Nazeem Martin, MD of Business Partners, South Africa’s leading financier of SMEs. “The budding entrepreneur has to plan and implement certain boundaries to make it work.”
Martin suggests the following plan of action for the home-based business owner:
Think ahead and plan for all potential scenarios. For example, be ready for the unknown expenses that come with the territory and know that you may not actually start turning a profit for at least the first year.
Have a business plan
Business plans help you look at all angles of your business, such as the costs for a website, domain, marketing materials, membership fees, phones and office supplies. You will need a well though-out business plan to approach a potential investor if major start-up capital is needed.
Separate your work area from your home space
A separate workplace will provide a place for focusing on your business, while you can close the door behind you at the end of the day to some personal time. There are also tax advantages to have a dedicated home office space, which should be explored with your accountant.
Become good at selling yourself
Many home-based businesses fall short in the marketing area. Without breaking the bank, informal marketing through both online and face-to-face channels, is a great way for people to hear your passion about your company. Do your research about how to go about this.
Balance work and home life
It’s important to keep your personal life from spilling over into your business life (and vice versa). For example, set up business bank account to avoid mixing personal with business expenses. Be sure to have professional work procedures in place with regards to record-keeping, paying invoices, logging time with customers and even mileage for business trips. All these measures will keep you more disciplined and will also help at tax time.
Organise your time
Flexibility is a major benefit of working from home. Yet, it still requires that you put in a fair amount of time. Setting a typical schedule for working in your office will help you stay focused. Keeping standard office hours also lets your clients know when you are available.
While setting up a home office is cheaper and easier than finding an office space to rent or buy, it still costs money, time and creativity to set up. It has to be done strategically in order to set the tone for doing good business.”