By Susan Payton
I get the appeal: working from home has a certain cachet that makes it appealing. The fact that you don’t have to put on a suit and tie or dress, as well as the super short commute make it something that many entrepreneurs desire above all else.
But here’s the thing: not everyone is cut out for working out of a home-based office. It’s not as glamorous as it sounds. There are distractions that may make you less productive. Your friends and family will think you’re not really working (how can you be? From home??). Working from home may make it more challenging to actually grow your business.
Before you give up office space to set up shop in your closet, ask yourself these questions to make sure you’re cut out for a home office.
1. What Do I Need to Be Productive?
For me as a writer, I need zero sound. I cannot work in a coffee shop because there’s way too much noise and music for me to concentrate. As I write this, a very chatty plumber is working outside in my yard, and it’s taking all I can to keep writing.
If you can’t get what you need to be productive at home, you will struggle against this daily. If you have this fantasy that you’ll manage your toddlers while working, you will fail. If you live above a nightclub and want to work at night (since you can’t sleep), you will fail. It’s essential that you identify the right conditions you need to get work done and then assess whether you can get those in a home office.
2. What Distractions Will I Face?
Beyond kids at home (if you have them), there are plenty of pitfalls that will deter you from working. That might be your Netflix queue, that pile of laundry begging to be sorted, or snacks in the kitchen.
Now, I know you’re stronger than all these distractions, but identifying them up front will help you come up with strategies to conquer them. For me, when I finish writing this article, I’m going to slather some of that amazing triple creme cheese I got at Costco on a piece of bread. Rather than it deterring me from writing this article, I’ll use it as a treat and a break. If you have chores around the house, you need to learn to put up mental barriers around your time: no household work until after 4 pm. And if kids are part of the equation, plan to get child care.
3. Is It Necessary That I Work Certain Hours?
If you need to be available to clients during a typical 9-to-5 scenario, make sure your home office supports that. If you can only work before the kids get up in the morning and after they go to bed, that will seriously curb your ability to offer great customer service. If you’re limited in when you can work from home, consider office space where you can be 100% dedicated to your customers.
4. Do Customers Need to Visit Me?
Typically, businesses that customers don’t need to visit work best as home-based, such as web designers, writers, or programmers. If customers need to sit with you in your office frequently, a home business might not work. If you only need to meet with customers occasionally, consider meeting them at the local coffee shop or renting shared workspace for important meetings.
Accept that a home business might not be a good fit for you. Consider whether you will be able to run your business effectively from home, and if not, let the idea go.