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How to run a small business from home

Business · 3 mins

How to run a small business from home

We can thank Covid-19 for showing many of us the benefits of working from home. And for small businesses, there are extra appeals – namely, reducing costs. Yet, there are some challenges to overcome – procrastination being a leading culprit. Read on for our tips for working from home effectively.

Can you run a business from home?

Absolutely! If Steve Jobs managed it in the early days of Apple, then you can too. And he did so before Skype and Zoom were even invented. Thanks to the advent of such digital communication platforms, it has never been easier to stay connected with others, even those on the other side of the world and in different time zones.

For SME entrepreneurs, saving money is a leading motivation to work from home initially. In fact, a study by Renolon found that around 44% of US home-based businesses are started for under US$5,0001.

The key is to know your weaknesses – whether that’s procrastination or overstretching yourself – and put steps in place to minimize those risks. Oh, and a powerful Wi-Fi connection is a must.

How to run a business from home legally

Depending on what it is, you may need insurance to run a home business. It’s important to check the regulations for the country you’re based in, and be aware of tax guidelines for such a business. In some cases, you may benefit from tax breaks as a home-based enterprise. Do your research!

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Tips for working from home effectively

Reduce distractions

If it’s not your dog, it’s an Amazon delivery. Or a WhatsApp message. Or a breaking story on Twitter. Or… The list of distractions within the home environment is endless, and we are all guilty of allowing room for them more so than if we were in the office. So, create a dedicated workspace somewhere within your home – preferably not your bedroom – so that you can have a clear boundary between home and professional life. This will help you get in the zone. Mute non-work-related notifications on your phone, and invest in noise cancelling headphones.

woman with children playing

Establish a routine...

Did you know research has shown that a consistent morning routine can improve your productivity at work?2 Get into the habit of waking up at the same time each day, but resist the urge to immediately check your phone and emails. Instead, do some exercise or meditation first. Then you can start your work day. Take regular breaks to ensure you don’t burn out.

...but embrace flexibility, too

Some people are highly motivated in the morning, invigorated by a full night’s sleep (honestly, they do exist). Others are night owls, with their best ideas coming later in the day when they’ve had a chance to “stretch” their brains a bit more. Being accommodating of this means you’ll get the best out of your team. As long as deadlines are still met, allowing your team to set their own hours (within limitations) will pay off. 

Furthermore, embracing asynchronistic working techniques enables your team to tackle different tasks over a longer period, should that be necessary with suppliers/customers in different time zones.

man looking at laptop screen

Keep brainstorms face-to-face

Humans are social beings. We need company – face-to-face company! So whilst much of your team’s communications can be carried out by email and Slack for ease, don’t underestimate the benefit of having a video conference call to bounce around ideas and get the creative juices flowing. Furthermore, they boost productivity: almost 90% of employees say that video conferences help to expedite work tasks3.

Remember the work-life balance

Not having to commute into an office can free up several hours, in some instances. Whilst that allows more time to answer emails and make calls, it could also be an opportunity to do something  to ease you in and out of the working day and inspire you – practicing some mindfulness or watching a TED Talk for example. Such things are good for your mental health and should be prioritized over firing off another email.

Safety tips for working from home

Sitting in front of a laptop for long periods of time can take its toll on your body. Remember these tips:

  • The 20:20:20 rule: every 20 minutes, look away from your screen at something at least 20 feet away, for a minimum of 20 seconds. This will reduce eye strain.
  • Invest in a comfortable chair that improves your posture, and position your laptop/computer screen at eye level so you’re not slouching or hunched over the screen.
  • Stretchhhhh! Every half an hour or so, stand up and shake your body, walk up and down the stairs a couple of times, just move. This will help you reset and recharge.
two people in a warehouse

Supply and product chain

If you’re working away from where you usually would, communicate with your suppliers to ensure you can still get prototypes, samples and products into hands before they’re ready to go. If you’re also having to deal with returns, make sure they’re going to the right place for them to be dealt with. You may need to update your customers if your logistics are changing, and be sure to notify them of any shipping issues that could be faced – it's all part of maintaining consumer trust.

Three tools to help your home business run more effectively

Slack4

This instant messaging platform will allow you to communicate with your team quickly and easily. It enables audio and video conversations with screen sharing and can integrate with other products such as G Suite, Dropbox and Adobe Creative Cloud. A must have for every team!

Asana5

This project management platform brings your team’s work together in one shared space. Its comprehensive toolkit is task-oriented, allowing you to organize and assign tasks, and track progress.

RescueTime6

A great tool for start-ups wishing to manage their time effectively. The platform promises to help users better understand how they spend their time so they can be more productive.

Once you have your WFH routine established, you'll be free to focus on growing your business. Discover our tips for that, here.

1 – Renolon study, Business DIT, January 2023

2 – CNBC, December 2022

3 – QuickBlox, September 2022

4 – Slack

5 – Asana

6 – RecueTime

Anna Thompson
Anna Thompson Discover content team

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