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Should I run my business from home?

Provided by Business Partners Ltd, South Africa's leading investor in SMEs


Hairdresser.jpgThere are a variety of pros and cons to working from home, so weigh them up before you clear out a spare room for your home office.

Having a home-based business holds a lot of attraction if you're a mother who wants to have the flexibility to spend extra precious hours with your children and the millions of other things that come with running a home. But it may not be as easy as it sounds, so look before you leap.

The advantages

  • You have the freedom to structure your hours and have that all-important family time we miss out on when we're part of the corporate rat race
  • You won't miss your children's all-important firsts (first smile, first steps...)
  • There's no one looking over your shoulder all the time to see if you're working. You don't have to ask for permission to take your child to the dentist, to leave work early or to take a few days off
  • You don't have run all your household errands on the weekend when everyone else is crowding the malls, banks, post office, etc
  • You don't need to spend a lot of money on corporate wear for the office
  • A home office saves on the cost of hiring office space and you can claim tax back for using part of your home as an office
  • You may consider starting off at home with a view to move premises once your business grows
  • If you live in a big city, you save petrol and avoid the frustration of being stuck in traffic all day

The challenges:

  • You have to work hard to establish a routine that accommodates your work, your children, your husband and so on
  • Spending time with your children/partner during the working hours you've set, and then working during family time is a huge temptation if you're not disciplined about it
  • If you're running a "one-man" show, you may become very lonely and feel a bit insecure about making certain business decisions on your own
  • Because you are at home anyway, you may resist getting outside help to do your household chores or watch your children
  • The office is always there, so you may end up spending so much time there, that you end up neglecting the very things you are staying home for
  • Many people (including your own family) may not take your job or your business seriously because you're running it from the kitchen/spare bedroom/garage
  • You may suffer endless interruptions from your children, unexpected visitors or anyone who thinks you're not really "at work"

Starting a business at home is by no means the easy way out and the list of challenges are clearly longer, but all obstacles can be overcome. It's just important to be aware of the downsides, so you can be prepared with possible solutions.

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