Work from Home
Do you dream of starting a home business? Do you have visions of teleworking or telecommuting?
If so, you might want to consider the following:
Children and Animals
Be sure you have created a professional environment when potential customers call or come in. Children answering the phone, or screaming in the background, does not give the person calling a good first impression. In fact, your customers might not take you, and your business, seriously. If clients visit your home office, hire someone to babysit while you conduct your business with them.
Dogs barking in the background can be annoying. Be sure to keep pets out of your home office if they are prone to barking, meowing, or chirping. People have allergies to animals, so be considerate of your clients if they visit your office, keep animals off the furniture, or better yet, out of the office completely.
You might enjoy Heavy Metal music blasting while you work, but theres a chance it will turn off your best customers. Make a mental note to turn off the music before answering the phone. If clients come into your office, do the same before they arrive. I know of a business that always has the wrong type of music blasting, customers hurry through, not buying as much as they might have had the owner possessed the presence of mind to change the channel. Studies have been done regarding types of music which keep customers calm, happy and willing to buy–the list didn’t include Pantera.
Do you smoke? When you inhale while on the phone, it might sound as if you are gasping for air. This can be very distracting to your customer. Never smoke in your office if you bring clients in, smoke elsewhere. Many people are allergic and some Asthmatics even have severe life-threatening reactions to smoke.
Do you have a habit of eating or drinking while interacting with your customers? This is distractingand even rudeyour customers deserve your full attention. If you are in the middle of lunch, let voice mail pick up the call.
Its All About Business
If clients visit your home office, be sure the environment is business in nature. Have a comfortable place for them to sit, an organized, clean working space, your business cards and/or brochures on a table next to their seat, and examples of your work well displayed. Its best to have a separate entrance to your office, not having people walk through your entire house. If this is cost prohibitive, do make an effort to keep the area they will see clean and neat. Let voice mail pick up calls while you meet with them, have consideration for their time. Check your personal appearance, are you dressed too casually, need a shave? First impressions mean a great deal, you are the face of your business.
Treat your customers the way youd want to be treated. Remember the manners your mother taught you! Smile, shake hands and use their name in conversation. Thank your clients for their business, let them know you appreciate their choosing you, instead of someone else. Reward those who refer others, or use your services on a regular basis.
Know your limits. If youve taken on too many commitments, your business could suffer in the long run. Focus on providing top notch service first and foremost. When branching out, do so with quality in mind. Hire people who have been well trained and understand the value of customer service. Your employees can make or break you. Think carefully when friends want to work for you–they might think it’ll be all fun and no work.
Sometimes, it pays to keep your business small, instead of growing it, depending on your preferences. If you enjoy a one-on-one approach with an elite client base, a simple approach to your work and life, perhaps the decision to keep it smaller is wise. Bigger does not always mean better–especially when it comes to a home business.
Your Hours, Your Boundaries
Establish your office hours early on, guard them with a vengeance. This ensures everyone knows your schedule, including roommates, family, friends, neighborsand clientsso they will respect the fact you are either working or closed for the day.
Respect your own hours, dont take business calls when you want to spend personal time away from work, or take personal calls while busy working. Burnout is common when you are always in the work mode, so do take the time to have a life.
Even without kids, pets and friends competing for your time, a home office posses other issues. When the T.V., internet, pile of laundry, and refrigerator are steps away, its easy to become distracted. It takes personal discipline to shut out these all too common time drains. Turn these distractions into rewards. Perhaps during lunchtime, flip on the T.V. and as soon as youre finished eating thats your cue to turn it off. If the weather is sunny and warm, beckoning you to go outside, take a 15 minute break to get your daily dose of vitamin D. Setting a timer will remind you break time is over and you have to get back to work.
Working from home is a great idea, but might not be for everyone. Do consider youll have to prepare a work space, become disciplined and organized (if you arent), and establish a plan that will be successful for you, your clients, and those you live with. There are many resources in your public library and online to help you decide if working from home is for you.