Setting Up a Workspace for Your Home Business
The area of your home where you operate your business -- your workplace -- will have an impact on the success of your business venture. To make sure that this impact is positive, you will need to organize it so that it becomes an efficient tool of your business.
If you decide to run a business out of your home, setting up the area of your home where you operate your business is of critical importance to the success of the business. The ideal home workplace is an area set up so that it encourages productivity and helps a business to thrive without breaking the bank.
Setting up a work-conducive area in your home requires wise choices of business and perhaps communication equipment, as well as accommodation to local zoning and other restrictions. And to avoid having your workplace unduly drain business profits that may not yet be there, this should all be done on a tight, yet reasonable budget.
Ideally, your work area should allow you to perform all the necessary duties of your business without unduly disrupting the functioning of the rest of your household, and should do so at a cost that does not put your business too deeply in the hole.
Creating a Functional Workspace
Most people working out of their homes find it helpful to have the work area somewhat isolated from the "personal" areas of the home. Whether you will find this true for you depends on what type of product or service your business provides, how you work best, and why you're working out of the home in the first place.
The type of product or service that your business provides often largely determines where your work space will be situated in your residence. For example, if your business involves working with power tools, other noisy equipment, or paint or other smelly solvents, it's probably the garage for you (but you still may want a desk or other work area where you can do your business's paperwork).
Will clients and customers be coming into the work area? If so, it's usually best to have it as isolated as possible from the rest of the house. Doing so helps establish that you "mean business." To the extent possible, your work area should be situated where customers and clients will have to walk through as little of your personal space as possible. If feasible, a separate entrance (or even a detached building on your property) to the work area might be best.
All signals may point to selecting a work area in your house that is as isolated as possible from the functioning of the rest of the home. But before you set up your workspace in a modified shed, remember why you chose to work out of your home. If you did so to provide supervision for your children or elderly parents, such isolation might not work out.
If customers, suppliers, or employees visit your home business, you'll want to take all reasonable steps to make sure their visits are safe ones.
Because your home business shares space in a home, your business visitors may not think to look for hazards that are a part of the home, but are not usually encountered in a business. Thus, if possible, you should try to keep your visitors out of the personal areas of the house where the belongings of family members may create hazards (such as the skateboard at the bottom of the steps). Likewise, aggressive dogs or other animals should be kept away from visitors.
Regardless of how hard you try to keep your business area safe for visitors, you should always have adequate liability coverage.
Once you determine what the optimal home work area would be for you and your business, then you must consider what is possible to create based on a realistic budget.
Creating a Cost Efficient Workspace
When creating your workspace resist the urge to overdo it, and watch your spending! Expenses of doing business often are larger than anticipated, and income may not flow in as quickly as planned. Because of this, it's a good idea to hold your initial spending on physical facility items to those that are absolutely necessary to kick off and perform your business.
Possibly you have decided where to put your work area and are thinking that physical changes should be made to enhance its efficiency (partition walls, sound proofing, carpeting, etc.). All of these may be good ideas — and possibly some or all of these changes should be done — but the question is, do you really need these changes now? Particularly if you are just starting a business, economy and efficiency should be your watchwords.
Remember, you can always upgrade your work area when the profits roll in. You might even include your desire for a better work area as a business goal: "When my weekly sales reach $XXX, then I'll buy a new desk and chair."
If you are able to qualify, Uncle Sam may partially subsidize your home business in the form of income tax write-offs.
Equipping your home business. For the most part, the guidelines for acquiring equipment, tools, furnishings, and other business assets are the same regardless of whether you work out of your home or in a separate business facility. Your equipment should convey the impression that you are serious about your business, and you are able and willing to provide your customers with superior products or services.
In planning your home workplace, keep in mind that some people have the preconceived notion that home businesses are not as committed or as efficient as other businesses. So, if you bring customers or other people into your work area, you should consider whether your surroundings convey the right impression. Although the items in your workplace don't necessarily have to be top-of-the line, they may detract from the business image you want to project if they are beaten-up or unbusinesslike. If it's not something that you would envision in a workplace outside of the home, chances are good that it shouldn't be in your home workplace.
Essentially, you should look at such acquisitions as investments of your valuable capital that will be made only after a careful analysis of your needs. You should avoid acquiring any item that won't make you and your business significantly more profitable, efficient, or productive.
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