Ah, the joys of working from home. No battling the rush hour traffic. No rushed lunch breaks. No crammed workspaces surrounded by sterile, gray cubicle walls. Sounds like a worker's paradise, doesn't it? Be advised, it may not be as easy as you think.
While working from home has its perks, not everyone is capable of doing it. The following advice, provided by Linda Novey-White, a member of the SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) board of directors, will help you avoid many of the common pitfalls. Once you get yourself started, you'll be — pardon the pun — home free.
Emphasize the office. A home office has to be just that, an office. If your workspace feels too much like home, you'll be doomed before you begin.
"Through a telephone conversation, the client won't know if you are using a desk in your bedroom," Novey-White says, "but in order to succeed, it is important that you commit yourself to professionalism. Set up your office as though you were working in a downtown office."
Take a seat. You may be tempted to cut costs, but your office furniture is not the place to do it.
"What you save in initial costs you will spend in medication for your backaches," she says. "Sit in it for more than three or four minutes before buying it, and be sure it fits your lower back and doesn't inhibit your arm movements at the computer."
Always stay connected. The advantages of working from an office — numerous phone lines and separate modem and fax lines — are a necessity for producing quality work at home.
"It will not appear professional to callers if you have call waiting, rather than a dedicated phone line," the SCORE member says. "Clients are frustrated when they are told that they have to wait until you hang up the phone to fax something because you didn't invest in the proper phone equipment."
Be your own boss. To succeed as a do-it-from-homer, you'll need to block out all the at-home distractions.
"Do only those things that you would do if you worked in an office tower downtown," Novey-White says. "You must think of your time away from the office as time and money lost, otherwise you will become less of a business person and more of an errand runner."
For more small business advice, visit www.score.org.