In our modern world a home office is not the only option for a small business but it is often the cheapest. We will discuss some of the other low cost alternatives later on in this article but first off, if you’re thinking of setting up a home office you should ascertain exactly what you need from that space and how your home can meet the needs of your business. Click the headings below to read more.
How much time will you spend there? Do you need someone there constantly to meet clients or sign for deliveries? Do you travel a lot and therefore need to be close to transport or easy access to the CBD of your area? The point I’m making is does the small to medium saving make the possible complications, travel time and separation worth the cost. Not everyone has these issues and often working from home is a ‘no-brainer’ but it’s good to start-out understanding exactly what you need and what is best for your business.
Working with what you have
Do you have your office hours alone in your home or are your family/housemates around making noise? If they are, you’ll probably want some separation. Do you have stock or a lot of equipment? If so you’ll probably need a whole room? If you have regular deliveries you’ll want to try and keep everything downstairs and if you have clients come you’ll want to avoid trudging through your whole house to get to the office. Get to grips with the location and the rest becomes aesthetics.
Simple things like not having enough electrical sockets or poor lighting can ring in some initial cost to set up your office. You’re probably going to want to avoid having to crawl under desks to swap plugs or spend 10 hours in a room tanning under a garish strip light. When starting out we often won’t have the funds to start making big cost changes but simple things like this will create the foundation of a healthy working environment. The other big consideration is whether your home connections meet your business requirements. You can have the best the gadgets and singing/dancing equipment but if you can’t rely on the internet speed once everyone else in the village comes home from work, you’re going to get stressed… Quickly. Cost up whether you need additional bandwidth, dedicated phones, servers etc., you know better than anyone you’re own business needs but understand that these initial spends can make the next few years growing your business all the more smoother.
Using the space
If you’re blessed with a huge office then feel free to go to get your very own Pat The Dog as a focal piece. If like the rest of us you have limited space think carefully about what you need and how you move around and use your office. Arranging equipment and furniture to avoid a spaghetti junction of trailing wires and keep sitting positions as close to the natural light as possible. Creative and simple storage solutions can be designed to tidy things away, remove clutter and keep things accessible as much as possible. Keep as much clear space as possible.
If you’ve worked in this order so far the only thing (apart from your customers) to think about it is creating the personality of your office. Think about what impression you want to impart on visitors, but also importantly on yourself too. Should it be professional, relaxed, productive, smart, fun, formal, or all of the above? A few well-placed items, some colour and finishing touches will create the space that compliments the personality of your business. Don’t go overboard, it might be nice now but a year in, when your rushing to get your orders fulfilled you won’t appreciate the over-sized lamp shade that you keep knocking into every time you stand up.
I can’t afford not to work from home
While working from home is always likely to be the cheapest option for a new business there are many alternatives that are not just simply renting an office to yourself. If you are someone who will go crazy working alone all day every day or needs to resonate with other people to encourage creative thinking how much will your business suffer from choosing the wrong environment? Remember when your business suffers, so do your profits, which makes saving on office costs null and void. Be sure that working from home is the right option for you, or at least that it isn’t the only option…
Mobile office - 3 and now 4 G internet, dongles, USB, tethering your smart phone…. Smart phones, laptops, tablets, business apps, cloud storage… The list goes on. When everything is in the cloud, and we’re all, always on the move, does anyone really need an office anymore?
Rent a desk - Rent a desk in a shared office. Run your business from a lively, professional and network friendly serviced office. Enjoy all the benefits of having a dedicated space for your business at a cost based on the amount of staff (just you right now?) you have, not on the size of the room.
Communal Workspaces - Communal hubs like this are similar to renting a desk but in this case it’s a ‘hotdesk’. Book a desk or turn up and take what’s free. Pay to access one location or work from multiple. Have all the facilities but no permanent position. It’s progressive and exciting, but probably not for everyone…
Garden office - For a not inconsiderable cost you can purchase a flat packed office and/or storage space for your garden. If your set on working from home but don’t have the space this could be right for you. Designed to meet requirements making them planning permission exempt set them up yourself over the weekend. (Just don’t take my word on it only taking a weekend!)
Be sure to read the next article which looks at how your home office affects your business insurance, home insurance, business tax and security concerns.