Whenever I meet people and tell them about my job, one of the first things they always say is "ahh it must be so nice to work from home!" (That and, "so do you actually make money then?" Which is a story for a different day...) like most things, working from home has its' upsides and downfalls but when you're starting out in business, unless you have a tried and tested business model to follow (and let's be honest, these days, there is no guaranteed business model!) keeping initial costs down is one of the best ways to ensure your business doesn't fail at the first hurdle. Rent and rates are some of the most expensive monthly costs for a business so if your new venture doesn't depend on having a store front, dedicated showroom or similar I would most certainly advocate running your business from your own four walls.
It always shocks people when they find out that we run Crown and Glory from home. I've had customers exclaim that they imagined great warehouses and shop fronts, and whilst an open plan studio with long wooden production benches, custom built photography studio and glittery welcome rug is in the 'Big Picture', there's just no need for such extravagance right now.
That being said, it's been a learning curve with regards to what boundaries to set. It's so important to be able to shut the door on your work when you're working from home; even though your commute is mere feet, being able to shut away those piles of unfinished projects, unfilled receipts and never ending to do list is imperative to keeping your sanity. We're lucky enough to have our own place, and so the spare bedroom has become Crown and Glory HQ, but even if you're in shared housing or living with your parents, there's nothing to say that with a bit of creativity you can't make yourself a little nook that can be shut off with a cupboard door or curtain at the end of your day.
It's super important as well, to ensure you're actually leaving the house from time to time. I know, the real world is a bright and scary place, but for the sake of your relationships and motivation, make the effort to have a daily/weekly/monthly jaunt - for example, Gareth and I have introduced a Wednesday lunchtime coffee date, where we head the 10 minutes into town for ridiculous sized hot chocolates and chat about what plans we have for the business for the coming week. I promise, your empire won't come crashing down around you if you leave the mother ship for an hour!
There can be a lot of distractions within the home, and now my friend is the time for you to adopt some willpower and do not give in to procrastination! I'd say that every business owner I know wishes that their ironing pile was smaller, dish washer emptied more often and fewer dust balls rattling around their living room, but the difference with those that work outside their home is that they're not hanging around in it all day every day! Whilst I'd like to think we're pretty good at keeping on top of housework (though maybe my standards have slipped) I've always said that as soon as it starts to drag my concentration away from the business I'd hire a cleaner. Extravagent? Well, your business isn't going to grow while you're scrubbing your bath, so why not outsource even a couple hours a week to ensuring you've less distractions on your morning coffee run. Way cheaper than hiring studio space.
I've talked about the importance of time management for small businesses before, but I think that working from home makes it even more essential to set yourself a schedule - but the beauty of being a business owner is that you get to decide what works best for you. Waking up when you feel like it soon turns into 'just one more Jeremy Kyle' in your PJs and before you know it, it's lunchtime and you're not even at your desk yet. Set your alarm in the mornings, get dressed (yes, real clothes, not just clean PJs), get to your workstation for a time that suits you (depending on my workload, I'm between 8am and 9am) and get stuck into your day. I like to check my emails, to do lists and diary over breakfast so before I'm even sat at my desk I know a vague plan of attack for my day. Likewise, give yourself a lunch break (even if its just 20 minutes) that isn't at your desk, and find a way to set yourself a clocking off time, too.
This is the one thing I've found most difficult about working from home, but realistically I don't think I'd be any different if I worked from a studio space or similar - it just wouldn't be as easy for my family to drag me away! There's always just one more task at the end of the day, one more email, a quick piece of website coding and before long its' midnight and im still writing this blogpost (oops!) Whilst of course there's going to be times when you do have to work long hours, for the sake of your sanity, relationships and motivation this shouldn't be the norm. I'm going to go into more depth about this next week, but one of the best thing I've done for my business in the past year is to introduce a regular, evening exercise regime - meaning I know for sure that my day finishes at 6pm each night so I can get to my various classes on time. Of course this could be anything - going out to dinner, taking the dog for a walk, heading out to see friends, a date or visit family, but I do think it is important that whatever you choose requires your full attention - we've all tried to cook both dinner and our accounts at the same time and it's not pretty for anyone involved.
Image by Laura Michelle Photography
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