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Little three year-old Austin walked around the corner to his garage. Inside, the walls turned purple and 320 pairs of little black eyes were looking down at him. “Wow, Daddy! That’s a lot of Barneys,” he exclaimed. His Dad ran over and gave him a big hug. For Mike Enos, storing hundreds of stuffed dinosaurs in his garage is just part of being an eBay Power Seller. Mike left a corporate career behind to follow millions of other Americans who are starting home businesses.
Morning rush hour, useless water cooler chatter and harried goodbyes to family members are a thing of the past. Now Mike starts his day preparing oatmeal for his children and doing what he loves in the comfort of his own home. However, it’s not all fun and games.
Like Mike, we ran our business out of the basement for eight years. Just because you’re home-based, it doesn’t mean you can don the fuzzy slippers, blast your favorite CD, or watch the soaps all day. “People think you can have a home business and twiddle your thumbs,” states Enos. “It’s not like that. You’re very, very busy. A home business is a real business, and you’ve got to treat it like one.”
In fact, if a home business is your way of putting food on the table, you’ve got to be more disciplined than ever. Here are some tried and true tips that can help you.
Create a space
To facilitate focus, set aside a dedicated workspace. Let’s call it your own “personal productivity sanctuary.” Make sure all the tools and resources you need are right at your fingertips. Your home business will benefit if you try to locate your workspace in a room with a door so you can avoid natural distractions like your refrigerator, your adorable infant or the boob tube. And the door helps when it comes to “man’s best friend.” Without it, you may learn what we did long ago – Fido’s very good at doubling as a voracious paper shredder!
Dress for success
It might not be obvious, but one of the easiest ways to get into the business mindset is to “suit up.” We’ve noticed that if you ditch the bathrobe or tattered t-shirt in exchange for business-casual attire, it puts you into the right mindset. It’s a subtlety, but “dressing for success” can actually help you maintain your business edge.
The supreme equalizer between traditional office-based businesses and home businesses is technology. Cell phones follow you everywhere, software organizes your finances, your email campaign gets the word out and a website hangs your shingle 24 hours a day. Don’t be shy about tapping into the innumerable technology resources available for greater efficiency, connectivity, management, outsourcing, marketing and more.
If you spend hours each day glued to your computer screen, isolated from the world beyond your front door, beware! When starting home businesses, it’s easy to become a hermit, so make a concerted effort to take meetings at the coffee shop and do things with your friends and family to help refresh your mind and entrepreneurial spirit. Many times, creative breakthroughs for your business come from interaction with people and exposure to what’s happening “on the street.”
If that clogged commute has got you down and you want to make a lifestyle change, consider starting a business from home. As we’ve confirmed in starting a business from our basement, applying these simple tips can position you for success, and before you know it, home will not only be where the heart is, but where the business is too!