Running a home-based business

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Choosing to run your own business is increasingly popular. These days the majority of small businesses in Victoria are home-based operations.

The advantages of a home-based business

Operating a business from home has some distinct advantages, including:

  • Greater freedom and flexible hours 
  • Better balance between work, family and life
  • Lower-risk entry point into business
  • Lower establishment and running costs 
  • You can start a business part-time without giving up your existing job
  • Less travel and transport hassles

The disadavantages of a home-based business

Working from home also presents challenges. Disadvantages include:

  • Isolation and lonliness if you are working by yourself and you're used to interacting with other people
  • Networking challenges - you don't have colleagues around you to help you out if you need it
  • Not being able to 'escape' work on weekends and after hours 
  • Friends and family thinking that it's OK for them to impose on your working day with phone calls and visits (you should set the boundaries with them early on - tell them "don't call me when I'm working")
  • The responsibility is all yours - you have to manage the finances, the taxes, the paperwork, the equipment and stationery...

Most councils have by-laws for home-based businesses. Check with your local council to find out if there are any planning permits required for your kind of business, or if there are any restrictions or regulations you should follow.

Tips for a healthy and happy home-based business

Here are some suggestions for ways that you can run your business from home with a minimum of stress and anxiety:

  • Separate you work time from your downtime - having a completely separate room as your office is a great way to make a distinction between your working space and your personal after-hours space
  • When you step into your home office, behave the same way you would if you were working as part of a company
  • Make sure your home office is comfortable, temperature-controlled and that it has lots of good light
  • Avoid meeting clients at your home office, at least for the first time - invite them to meet you at a local coffee shop instead
  • Have a separate phone line for your business
  • Dress like you're going to work - you're more likely to work professionally if you're dressed for it, instead of sitting at your desk in your pyjamas!

Support services for home-based businesses

There are support services and networks available to help your home-based business, including:

  • Services provided by your local council - find out what kind of help they can give you
  • Short courses and information services provided by the Victorian Government, such as the Business Victoria website (new window)
  • Networking groups and events you can join and attend
  • Business and industry associations (such as a local Chamber of Commerce or a Retail Trader's Association)

Give it a go

Running a home-based business is an exciting step to take. It can be a real adventure, with ups and downs just like any new experience. But if you take it seriously, give yourself time to learn the ropes, and take advantage of the support networks at your disposal, you could find that working from home is the best career decision you ever made.

Links

Business Victoria
Resource designed to help you start, run and grow your business.

Business.gov.au - Start your own business
Before you start, save yourself time and money by being aware of what's involved in running a business.

Australian Taxation Office
Information about claiming deductions for the expenses relating to the area of your home you use for your business.

Flying Solo
Information and resources for small business operators.