Working from home can be a great way to get your new venture off the ground. It saves money and gives you the freedom to work on your new business when and where you want. To set yourself up for success, use these seven tips to help you maximize your work-from-home experience as a new entrepreneur.
1. Create a dedicated workspace.
Working from home can be great, but there are many distractions, such as chores, family, and pets. If you have young children, finding a quiet space in your home to work may be so challenging that you’ll need to rent an office or shared workspace.
But if working from home is feasible for you, creating a dedicated workspace that’s as free from distractions as possible is critical for staying focused and getting more done. If possible, use a dedicated room for your office so you can close a door when you need to focus and take calls.
However, if you don’t have a spare room, you might choose a guest bedroom, corner of your bedroom, or space in your living room or garage. Set up your workspace with a comfortable chair that you can adjust for height and back support.
Also, stock your desk with equipment and supplies like a second computer monitor, a printer, pens, and paper, so you have what you need to do your job within arm’s reach. Include water and snacks, so you’re comfortable and don’t have to leave your workspace. The little details can reduce your likelihood of getting distracted and improve productivity.
2. Set regular work hours.
One of the benefits of working from home is setting your hours. However, if you don’t have a regular work schedule, you may work too much or at the wrong time. That can lead to burnout and strain your relationships with family and friends.
Instead, decide what work hours are best for you, your family, and your customers and stick to them. Of course, there will be days when you need to deviate from your plan. But keeping a sustainable schedule is critical to success.
3. Have an internet backup plan.
Having a reliable internet connection is essential for working from home. Most entrepreneurs rely on email, Zoom meetings, online research, and various cloud-based services.
Even if you have a good internet connection, create a backup plan if it gets interrupted, or you lose power. For instance, make sure you have a cell phone with a strong internet connection, a portable hotspot, or know the nearest local coffee shop with Wi-Fi.
4. Take regular breaks.
When running a business from home, it’s easy to work long hours doing multiple tasks, such as marketing, building a website, finalizing products or services, and bookkeeping. Don’t forget how powerful regular breaks can be for your energy level and creativity.
So, step away from your desk at regular intervals to stretch your legs and go outside. Getting natural light and fresh air can boost your mood and productivity and leave you thinking more clearly.
5. Track business tax deductions.
The IRS says you can deduct ordinary and necessary expenses for conducting your business with the expectation of earning a profit. They’re a legal way to cut your tax bill, so take every deduction possible.
And the good news is that work-from-home entrepreneurs have many money-saving tax deductions, including:
- Auto expenses
- Travel, including transportation, lodging, and tips
- Business books, magazines, educational materials, and conferences
- Professional fees
- Uncollectible bad debts
- Principal and interest paid on business loans
- Computer equipment and software
- Office supplies
- Business losses
You can also claim a home office deduction whether you own or rent your home if the space is a principal place used regularly and exclusively for your business. There are two types of expenses eligible for the home office deduction: direct and indirect expenses.
Direct expenses are the costs to set up and maintain your office. For instance, if you work in a spare bedroom, you might decide to install carpet and window treatments. These expenses are 100 percent deductible, no matter the size of the office.
Indirect expenses are costs related to your office that affect your entire home. They’re partially deductible based on the size of your office as a percentage of your home. Your rent, renters insurance, and utilities are examples of indirect expenses for renters. You’d have these expenses even if you didn’t have a home office.
For homeowners, you can’t deduct the principal portion of your mortgage payment, which is the amount borrowed for the home. Instead, you’re allowed to recover a part of the cost each year through depreciation deductions, using formulas created by the IRS.
Other indirect expenses typically include mortgage interest, property taxes, home insurance, utilities, and maintenance. Allowable indirect costs turn some of your personal expenses into home office business deductions, which is fantastic!
6. Purchase the right insurance.
Another part of being a successful entrepreneur is having the proper insurance to protect yourself, your family, and your business from financial risk. Take time to review and adjust your policies for your business use. For instance, you need to update your auto insurance if you drive less than 25 miles a day or add a commercial use endorsement if you drive for business.
Many entrepreneurs need additional life insurance to protect their loved ones. Plus, you may need business insurance based on your industry and potential risks, such as cyber-security, inventory, or lost income.
7. Get professional help.
You may need professional help with accounting, legal, marketing, or hiring contractors or employees as a business owner. Instead of trying to master every business function, reach out to professionals for answers. The cost will be worth it if their guidance sets you up for success.