Running your business from home

1st August 2014

Running your business from home can be one of the most cost-effective ways to start your business. But is it as easy as turning on your laptop? Or do you need to consider the financial aspects and legalities of working from home? Read our handy checklists on what to know before you start and how to be more productive and get it right.

Considerations before you start

  • Carry out a health and safety risk assessment to identify and minimise the risks to you, your employees, visitors or residents.
  • Check with your insurance provider to see if you need extra cover.
  • Make sure the conditions of your mortgage or tenancy agreement allow you to use your home as a business.
  • Consider your income, VAT and Capital gains position, by consulting HM Revenue and Customs and an accountant.
  • Contact the local branch of your Valuation Office Agency (VOA); you may need to pay business rates.
  • If you are unsure about the legal implications of working from home, talk to a solicitor.
  • Before making structural changes to your home, talk to your local planning department.

How to be more productive

  • Get fresh, go outside. Although obvious a shower, clean teeth and a brisk walk first thing may do more to freshen you up for the day ahead than anything else. Avoid working in your pyjamas!
  • Have an agenda or work task list for each day and stick to it; this will help prioritise tasks, motivate you and keep you on track for the next day.
  • Create a separate workspace. A dedicated workspace helps avoid unwanted distractions. If you live with people, dividing your home and workspace shows respect to their personal needs. If you've got the space you could also consider creating an 'office shed' at the end of your garden!
  • Schedule morning meetings. If you have a hard time getting out of bed, schedule morning meetings; the best way to fight the snooze factor.
  • Get out for meetings. Organise meetings outside of your home work environment so you can get out and about and return refreshed.
  • Get some exercise. Evidence suggests exercise increases productivity. If running your business from home means giving up your daily walk to work, it’s equally important for your health too. (Always consult your doctor when starting an exercise regime.)
  • Work sensible hours. The comfort of home may tempt you to work all night or through weekends - but be careful. Your productivity and health will suffer if you work excessive hours, and you could lose friends (or your mind).
  • Manage your phone. This above point also applies to answering your business mobile out of work hours; be disciplined and make sure you have quality time for yourself and family too.
  • Take a break. Be sure to take breaks and lunch; remember to eat properly! At times, when you're engrossed you can easily forget that breaks are beneficial to your health and productivity.
  • Ration your friends. To your friends, ‘work from home’ may sound like ‘pop in for a cuppa anytime’. If friends visit too often, limit their visits and explain why. They are your friends, they will understand.

Do you have any tips or experiences you’d like to share on how you’ve ran a successful business from home? Please share them in the comments below.

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