We spoke to Kate about the key to success when running a small business from home, from setting up a considered home work space to having the right tools and tech for support.
Tip 1: Separate your space
While it’s certainly possible to run a business from wherever you lay your laptop, Kate finds it best to have a separate space at home.
No spare room? Get creative with your work zone at home. Picture: Unsplash
“It’s easier for keeping work away from the kids; it also makes work and personal life more separate,” she says.
If you’re tight on space, consider creative ways to make a work zone. Drill some wide floating shelves to a wall to make a desk, or convert a linen press into a fold-out desk.
Tip 2: Have the right tech
Oftentimes, self-employed business owners who are just starting out need assistance with organising their finances. This is why it pays to have a platform to do the heavy lifting for you.
“When I was starting out, I did my own bookkeeping and I found Xero so easy to use,” Kate shares.
“Now, as the business has grown, I have a bookkeeper who specialises in Xero and it still makes it easier for both of us to do things remotely in collaboration.”
A platform like Xero can make running your business from home a breeze. Picture: Unsplash
Both Kate and her bookkeeper can access Xero, which acts as a one-stop-shop for everything financial, from reconciling accounts to keeping track of invoices.
In fact, according to Xero’sTipping Point research – a report uncovering what makes sole traders decide to start something of their own – 87% of self-employed business owners like Kate, who used cloud accounting software during the pandemic, believed it played a key role in supporting their business.
Furthermore, 40% view reliance on efficient digital tools as critical to their success.
Tip 3: Invest in your furniture
“If you’re sitting in front of a computer for long stretches of time, a comfortable chair is definitely a good idea,” Kate says.
“We used to sit on dining chairs and they don’t make for comfortable sitting after 10 minutes!”
Ergonomic furniture, including a proper office chair and desk, can make the world of difference. Even if you feel okay sitting at the dining table for now, the accumulative effects of sitting poorly at a desk can be long-lasting. Proper furniture is an invaluable investment, especially if you plan to run your small business from home in the long-term.
Tip 4: Keep it tidy
“Visual clutter creates mental clutter,” Kate says.
“Give yourself enough room so that you can find things easily and be more efficient in your work. Try to give everything their own spot where you can find them and keep things tidy.
“I find when a space is too cramped and you just stack everything on top of each other, it creates a stressful environment that’s less enjoyable to work in.”
“Visual clutter creates mental clutter.” Doesn’t this look like a lovely place to work? Picture: Unsplash
This isn’t only on top of your desk but under it as well. Contain all the cables from your electronics with ties or clips to keep those pesky cords in order.
Tip 5: Don’t forget storage
Whether you need somewhere to stash your office chair when the day is done, or you need filing cabinets and paper trays, order is key for any office — especially if it’s at home.
According to Tipping Point, 52% of self-employed business owners agree that maintaining a decluttered and organised operation is critical to their success.
For Kate, whose work is largely digital, her storage needs are simple shelving for her equipment — and, of course, hard drives.
Tip 6: Put a rug under your desk and chair
If you have a chair on wheels, you’ll want to pop a rug or rubber mat under it so it doesn’t wreak havoc on your floors. It’s not just wooden floors either.
Pop a rug under your chair to protect your floor and offer cushioning. Picture: Unsplash
“Usually office carpet is really hard-wearing, versus the carpet people usually have at home,” Kate points out. “Those rubber mats can help protect the carpet and also make it easier to move.”
Furthermore, if you have a standing desk, you’ll appreciate that extra comfort under-foot.
Tip 7: Think about lighting
“I think nice, natural lighting in general makes for an enjoyable space to work in, especially if you work on a computer,” Kate says.
“For me, any glare across the computer screen when I’m editing photos is a bit troublesome.”
The same can be said for running reports or responding to emails, as you don’t want to miss any important details.
Good curtains or blinds can be a start, but also consider energy-efficient lamps for when you’re working in the evenings and you need a bit of extra light.
Tip 8: Communicate with your co-habitants
Whether you live with family, friends or housemates, it pays to have a chat with those sharing your home/work space.
“Working from home definitely has its benefits, in that you can do bits and pieces around the house during the work day, like doing a load of laundry,” Kate starts.
“But it can also be easy to get distracted and lose focus, especially if you have people around you — whether that be kids or a partner — asking questions or needing your help.
“Have clear boundaries — talk with the other people in your house about what is work time, what isn’t and what the expectations are.”
After all, what may really help your business run smoothly is the support of those around you, considered space and a solid tech stack.