Many people dream of being able to work from home. The notion that the daily commute could be just a glide down the stairs into the kitchen and the 9-5 might be spent entirely in pajamas is definitely an appealing one.
Certainly, blending your workspace into your home can save the costs of renting or buying commercial space and there can be considerable tax benefits as well as more flexible hours.
However, working from home can throw up a number of issues and you need to be certain that it will suit your personal and professional life.
Here are five key considerations before you take the plunge:
Not everyone will have the character traits required to work at home successfully.
If you know that the company of others is integral to your sense of well-being and that spending hours on your own would get you down, don’t kid yourself: the appeal of home comforts will soon fade when cabin fever sets in!
Home workers also need to be incredibly self disciplined: the lure of the couch, the coffee machine or checking social media is strong. If you don’t have cast-iron resolve and the ability to make clear boundaries between home and work time, then don’t quit the day job!
Impact on the home
If you have a family, having a business at home is bound to have repercussions.
Whilst many think they will have more time to spend with family members, the lack of a physical distance between your work and home often means that home-workers will actually spend more time on their business. The temptation will be to send ‘just one more email’ or disrupt quality time with partners or kids in order to keep on top of things.
It will be important to create a designated area of your home as your workspace or office and make sure it’s as far away from the bustle of the rest of the household.
And you will have to be extra vigilant at maintaining professionalism. It’s remarkable how much a busy office environment fosters focus and energy, whereas a home based setting can induce procrastination and lethargy.
Always stick to a strict schedule and deal with emails, client requests and financial requirements swiftly.
It’s also vitally important to make time for your business’ development and the larger goals you may have: without the presence of colleagues to bounce ideas off, you run the risk of letting your business stagnate.
Suitability of your home
If you are running a business from home, you will need to check municipal by-laws and work out whether your neighborhood is in a zone that allows it.
Particular issues will arise if you will be dealing with members of the public on a regular basis or have non-family members working within your home.
Some municipalities simply don’t allow home-based businesses and others have strict rules about the kinds of businesses that can operate out of a family dwelling in a residential area.
If your business requires a lot of deliveries or perhaps noisy or unsightly manufacturing space – you may well come up against resistance from neighbors and the authorities.
You also need to be sure that the location of your home will suit the requirements of the business. Service or product based businesses can probably afford to be off the beaten track (although there are your own travel costs to consider) but if your business is one where customers or clients come to you on a regular basis, then you will need to be in an accessible location that’s easy to find.
Don’t forget – you won’t be able to put up a big sign outside your house. A discreet plaque by the door will be all your visitors will have to identify you.
Beware of scams
If you haven’t already got a business you can transfer to home, or even a viable home-based business idea, be sure not to get sucked in by the numerous home business opportunities flaunting themselves on the internet.
These often turn out to be scams.
Beware of any advertisement that claims you can earn thousands with minimal effort, demands any money upfront or claims that ‘no experience’ is necessary.
Also, be wary if you are asked to complete a credit report or provide your bank details for anything – you could be at the mercy of identity fraudsters or just plain old thieves.
As with any business, you will need to make sure all the legalities are in place before you start trading.
All the same rules apply: you need to decide whether you set up as a sole proprietorship, partnership or corporation and then register your business’ name. Depending on the type of business, a license to trade may be needed as well as registering for Goods and Services tax (GST/HST), Provincial Sales Tax (PST) and Workers' Compensation Insurance.
Always take out Home Business Insurance – it could save you a fortune if a disaster occurs.
On a positive note, as a home-based business, you could claim tax deductions for a segment of property taxes, repairs and maintenance, utilities, home insurance as well as a part of your rent of mortgage interest.
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