Working from home has many benefits, but it’s not without challenges, too. Here are five of the most common challenges home business owners face and advice for overcoming them.
With commercial rental prices on the rise, it’s no surprise that many business owners are opting to run their companies from home. In fact, government statistics show that 52% of all US businesses are home-based. Along with the monetary savings, owners enjoy numerous benefits including the ability to skip out on the morning commute and work in yoga pants.
Despite the many positives associated with working out of your house, running a home-based business is not without its challenges. Here are 5 disadvantages of running a home business:
1. Communication Problems
Keeping all your employees on the same page is hard enough when everyone is based out of a single office. However, the situation becomes infinitely more complex when you operate a business from home. Without a common work and meeting space, employees may struggle to accomplish tasks to your satisfaction. Additionally, it can be tough to execute projects that require the sharing of key documents and materials if workers are spread across the city or even the country.
Fortunately, modern technology has made it easier for home-based businesses to communicate with their team. Cloud computing is a newer technology that allows companies to communicate and share resources with partners around the globe. Not only do cloud storage solutions keep data safe and secure, but they also enable you to grant access to remote employees. Hence, workers can collaborate on projects, and companies can store data without a large technical staff in place. Check out this Small Business Computing article for some of the most-recommended cloud storage providers for SMBs.
2. Unprofessional Appearance
A casual work environment has its advantages, but a home office isn’t always suitable for seeing clients. After all, it can be difficult to convince investors to fund your business if they see a sink full of dirty dishes and toys all over the floor. Additionally, the lack of a physical office can impede your ability to get the word out about your wares. While home business owners can always market their services online or by other means, you generally miss out on the foot traffic and word-of-mouth advertising that comes from having a storefront in the community.
If you can’t afford or don’t want a permanent office, there are still options for presenting an organized and sophisticated appearance to potential clients. Regus is one of a number of services that provide fully-furnished offices on either a part time or full time basis to business owners. There are many other companies that offer temporary working spaces or meeting rooms to businesses as well. To find them, use Google, Bing or Yahoo to search for the term temporary workspace, or offices to share. Depending on where you are located, you may be able to find office or meeting space that can be reserved by the day, month, or even hour.
3. Feelings of Isolation
As exciting as it is to operate your dream business instead of working for someone else’s, people who run home businesses often report feelings of isolation and even depression. After all, you don’t have the benefit of chatting over the water cooler or grabbing lunch with a colleague. While there’s no substitute for an office full of colleagues, people prone to feelings of loneliness might consider scheduling regular “work dates” with other freelancers. Additionally, you can make an effort to stay in touch with co-workers from past jobs and meet for the occasional lunch or gym session.
4. Lack of Funds
Few new businesses are profitable during their first years, and home-based companies are no exception. One of the greatest disadvantages of running a small home business is a lack of steady paycheck. Not only can cashflow problems make it tough to pay for business costs in the early days, but they may also affect your ability to budget for personal expenses.
If possible, have enough cash set aside before you start your home business to carry you through the lean times. Set up business and personal budgets and stick to them. Market your business continually, and if you have to bill customers for your work, send out bills as soon as the work is done.
RELATED: Cash Flow Tips for Small Business
5. Trouble Leaving Work at the Door
Working from home means dealing with numerous distractions. Along with well-meaning family and friends, business owners have to resist the urge to turn on the TV or throw in a load of laundry. However, often getting work done isn’t the greatest challenge for home business founders. On the contrary, these professionals may have trouble leaving their desks and signing off email at the end of the day.
Just because you love your home business doesn’t mean you should be a slave to your job. To keep your energy levels high and avoid burning out, it’s important to make yourself unavailable to clients and customers during certain hours. Make it a point to leave your desk at the end of the day and spend time with family and friends. The break will leave you relaxed, refreshed, and ready to start the next day anew.
There’s no question that running a home business can be complex. However, by staying aware of the possible problems—and taking steps to correct them when possible—you can give your company a higher shot of success in the coming years.