Pros and cons of running a business from home

Posted: 28th July 2008

Running a business from home can be a very satisfying experience, giving you the flexibility to live your life as you wish. However, there is no doubt that there are down sides to the decision to keep your business home-based. The following article is based on our own experiences of running a full-time business from home.

Pros

Low overheads

One of the major factors in deciding to run your business from home is that of money. If being home-based is practical for your type of business and you have the room it can be a great way to keep overheads down. You don’t have to pay rent or a mortgage on separate office space. Your household bills may well be higher as you will be home more of the time using electricity, gas etc., but you will only have the one set of bills.

No commute

This is one of my favourites. After several years of waiting for trains to turn up or being stuck in traffic on the bus, it is absolute bliss to not have to travel to work. It means that you potentially have more time to actually work rather than spend an hour or more getting to and from work. Great for productivity.

Work your own hours

One of the attractions to running your own business, particularly a home-based business, is that you decide what hours you work. Be careful with this one as it’s not necessarily as easy as it sounds. Running a business is a lot of hard work and you may well find that you end up working longer hours than you would with a nine to five job. However, it is true that you will have greater flexibility. You’re not tied to working standard office hours (though being available during them can make communicating with clients a lot easier), which means that you can work the hours that you are most suited to (early mornings if you’re a morning person like me, or later in the day if you’re more of an evening person like my partner).

Can fit housework around the business

I wasn’t sure about including this as a pro as I don’t always find this beneficial. If you’re in the middle of an important task and the washing machine is bleeping at you it can be a bit distracting. Nonetheless, if you work from home you can fit some of the household chores around working, such as doing the laundry when the weather is good, rather than letting it build up until the weekend.

Cons

Nowhere to hold meetings

This is something that we occasionally find a bit awkward. If you are running a business that involves dealing with other businesses, it can be difficult if you don’t have an office to arrange client meetings. Of course you could invite clients into your home but not everyone is comfortable with that.

You can come across as less professional

This ties in with not having an office to hold client meetings. Running your business from home can make it harder to portray a professional image. It can cause some people to take you less seriously – it’s not a ‘proper’ business because you’re running it from your spare room. Of course we know that that’s nonsense but you do have to work harder at how you come across.

Keeping your business and personal life separate

If you work and live in the same place it can be difficult to separate your business from your personal life. If your paperwork is lying around the house or your computer is in the corner of your sitting room, it can be difficult to know when to stop working. You may find that if your clients know you’re home-based they may think it’s ok to phone you in the evening and at the weekend. If this is the case it can be beneficial to draw clear boundaries – state your office hours and stick to them, keep your answer phone on when you’re not working (or even better get a separate phone line for your business).

Productivity can be adversely affected

If you’re the sort of person who finds it difficult to keep yourself motivated, then you may find the informality of working from home has an adverse affect on your productivity. You may be tempted to ‘just have a quick look at that website’ before starting work and find half the day has gone without achieving anything.

Further resources

  • Spare Room Start Up: How to Start a Business from Home by Emma Jones
  • The Quick Guide to Working from Home by Hugh Williams
  • Live/Work: Working at Home, Living at Work by Deborah K. Dietsch
  • Start and Run a Real Home Based Business by Dan Furman

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