Operating a business from home offers small business owners some significant advantages — and some disadvantages, too. Some entrepreneurs find running a home-based business works exceptionally well for them, while others do much better at a coworking space of in an office away their home. Consider the following pros and cons.
The upside of a home office:
Flexible work schedule – Working from home often gives you more control over your schedule. You generally have more freedom to take time off during the day and then pick up the slack by working at night or early in the morning.
More productive time – Without having to waste minutes or hours driving to and from an office, you have more time to get your work done. You can jump right into the tasks at hand, without worrying about shaving or fixing your makeup and hair.
Fewer distractions – You have more control over your surroundings (with some exceptions noted below), which can ultimately result in less stress and more peace and quiet to do what you need to do.
More cost effective than an office – When you work from home, you don’t have to budget for office rent or a coworking membership. You’ll also save on fuel costs because you don’t have a commute.
Lower wardrobe costs – Depending on your type of work, you may not need to keep as extensive of a professional wardrobe than you would if you had an office outside of your home.
Less spending on coffee and treats – Coffee at home is far less expensive than hitting your favorite coffee shop on the way to the office. You may be less inclined to eat out for lunch, too.
Home office deduction on your income tax – Depending on your business legal structure, you may be able to report a portion of your electric bill, heating expenses, etc. as a tax deduction.
The downside of a home office:
Difficulty stepping away – You may find it tough to separate yourself from your work when your office is just a few feet away. There’s always the lure of dealing with unfinished business tasks during your downtime. Unable to escape for some rest and relaxation, you could end up burned out and overwhelmed.
Potentially more distractions – If you can’t block out an overgrown lawn or piles of laundry from your mind, you may find working at home a not-so-productive work environment.
Feelings of isolation – Working from home generally doesn’t provide as many opportunities for social interaction as working at an office. If you thrive on ambient noise and conversations throughout the day, you may feel lonely in a home office.
You might not be taken seriously – Some people perceive working from home as a sign that you are not serious about being in business. To combat this, you may need to work extra hard to demonstrate that you are a professional who is capable of delivering on your promises.
How to make a home office work for you.
Carefully consider your personal working style and your home’s capacity to accommodate your business when deciding whether or not a home office is the right work environment for you.
Having a private space reserved for doing your work where the kids, the dog, and household chores won’t hijack your attention can help you succeed in a home office.
You also may need to set boundaries for friends and family who might believe you can drop what you’re doing to entertain guests in the middle of the day.
Setting up a schedule for your work time can help you draw the line between “home” and “business” so you stay on task and don’t neglect your personal life.
SCORE mentors offer expertise in all aspects of starting and running a small business. They have the knowledge and experience to help you assess your efforts and guide you in finding ways to reach your goals. You’ll find us at KitsapSCORE.org