A Guide to Starting Your Home-Based Business

Set-up your home office for success.

If it seems like more people are working from home, it’s because they are. Thanks to telecommuting technology and research from experts like Cornell University’s Nicholas Bloom, companies are becoming more lax about location requirements and many Americans are opting to work from home.

One of the best parts about working from home is the opportunity to create a comfortable and motivational workspace. But with great power comes great responsibility. Setting up a professional work environment in your home will require some effort.

If you’re ready to begin working from home because you’re launching your own business or you’ve accepted a position that lets you work remotely, you’ll need the right equipment, services and setup. Check out our guide that’ll help you get started.

Design that inspires productivity

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that you should be in a workspace that’s conducive to getting work done. If you’ll be working from home, it’s important to have an area that’s dedicated solely to getting stuff accomplished. That way, you can easily separate work from leisure, avoid distractions and stay in the right frame of mind. This is particularly important if you’ll have clients or co-workers on site from time to time.

When you’re looking for a space to turn into a home office, consider an area of your home with plenty of windows. According to experts at Cornell and Carnegie Mellon, natural light can reduce eyestrain and headaches, allowing you to be more productive. Colors can also impact our mood and energy levels. Low-wavelength colors commonly found in nature like green and blue can improve focus and efficiency, while high-wavelength colors like red inspire passion. An undeniably optimistic shade, yellow is believed to trigger innovation. Neutral hues are always a safe choice.

Adding art on the walls is one way to provide some much needed visual variety. Staring at a screen for hours on end can be taxing and sometimes your eyes and brain need a break. Plants can literally provide a breath of fresh air, too. Breeds like the Boston fern, peace lily, golden pothos and mum serve as natural air filters, improving the atmosphere of your home office. Smell is another important factor. Lavender and jasmine plants or candles can reduce stress. Peppermint, on the other hand (or nostril), can stimulate cognitive performance.

No matter what color paint or plant type you go with, it’s important to make your workspace your own. Steve Jobs may have founded Apple from a garage, but working in a dark enclosed space probably wouldn’t work for most of us. According to a recent study from the University of Exeter, productivity increases by 32% when employees can design their own workspace. They also tend to be happier and healthier than those working in a space designed by someone else.

According to a recent study from the University of Exeter, productivity increases by 32% when employees can design their own workspace. They also tend to be happier and healthier than those working in a space designed by someone… Click To Tweet

Saving energy and money

In addition to increased output, there are environmental and financial benefits to working from home. For one, you’ll probably spend less money on coffee, commuting, meals, happy hours and professional clothes. You’ll also minimize your carbon footprint. Win, meet win.

Using natural light while you’re working from home can potentially increase your output and reduce your monthly electric bill, which may take a hit when you start working from your house, condo or apartment. If you can, choose the brightest room in the house to avoid the need for overhead lighting or desk and tableside lamps. Keep those curtains open and let the sun shine.

Technology plays a big role in telecommuting, but it can also be debilitating. Click To Tweet

Technology plays a big role in telecommuting, but it can also be debilitating. When working from home, it’s wise to avoid the temptation to watch television. In fact, it’s best if you unplug anything you don’t use for work during a certain period of the day. That will help you keep your overhead costs low.

Many eco-conscious people rely on power strips, but you should also consider using a device to manage the flow of electricity in your home office. TrickleStar offers smart strips that can reduce the amount of standby power you’re wasting. Keeping your computer, printer and other office equipment off when you’re not using them is another power move.

Other key considerations

As grueling as a nine-to-five job can feel sometimes, it does provide basic benefits, like a computer and high-speed internet access. If you’re working from home, you’ll need to buy your own equipment and software. Some employees also need to purchase hardware upgrades and external storage tools. Others need a scanner, printer or copier to get the job done. Low-grade WiFi and outdated tech can hold you back if you’re not careful. If you participate in meetings regularly, you may also want to invest in a high-quality camera, microphone, headphones and maybe even a business phone line that can accommodate conference calls.

If you’re working from home, you’ll need other supplies, too, like notebooks, pens, document clips and sticky notes. Just remember that clutter can potentially be just as distracting as your TV or cellphone. Containers will help you keep things tidy and whiteboards will help you stay on top of all your tasks.

Speaking of tasks, anyone who works from home may want to figure out how they’re going to sign up for health insurance, pay taxes and start saving for retirement. Now that we have a new tax law in place, consider whether you should register your home-based business as a sole proprietorship, LLC, S corporation or C corporation. And find out whether you can qualify for a home office tax deduction. Your lawyer, accountant and financial adviser can help if trying to figure out your tax situation is making your head spin.

Last but certainly not least, it’s important to update your homeowners insurance policy if you’ll be working from home. Some homeowners insurance providers, like Hippo, include coverage for electronics and other work necessities. Many do not. According to the Insurance Information Institute, a typical homeowners policy only covers $2,500 worth of business equipment, which is usually not enough to replace even the simplest of office tools. Plus, you might need coverage for things like liability and lost income.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, a typical homeowners policy only covers $2,500 worth of business equipment, which is usually not enough to replace even the simplest of office tools. Plus, you might need coverage… Click To Tweet

If you are underinsured, you could use an endorsement or rider to make up the difference. But before you pull the trigger, reach out to your provider and find out what they think is best.

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