One of the hardest parts of running a home business, whether you are a real estate investor or in an entirely different business, is separating your work from your home life, family and friends. I believe this is especially true for women entrepreneurs. It’s very tempting to do a load of laundry, fix dinner or start one of the other tasks around the house that needs to be done while you work on your business. But if you are to be successful in your business while working from home, there are some ground rules you need to follow.
6 Tips for Working on Your Business from Home
- Create a work schedule and stick to it! It may be tempting to take personal calls during the day, but if you do people will expect you will “always be there for them” when they call. By the same token, try to return your business calls during business hours.
- Just because you have set up a work schedule, it doesn’t mean you need to work 9-5. This is one of the best parts of being your own boss. You can work those 8-10 hours whenever you want each day.
Early birds get up at the crack of dawn. Night owls may begin later in the day and stay up half the night. Maybe you want to work in the morning, take a break when the kids get home from school, then work some more in the evening. That’s ok. It is your schedule and you get to choose the times when you are most productive to work.
- Your friends may consider “working from home” an invitation to chat or drop their kids off for an hour or two. Or, they may ask you to go shopping or for coffee in the afternoon. You will need to make it clear that these are your business hours and they are for business. After asking a time or two they will gradually understand that this is your work schedule and it is really no different than if you had an outside employer. If you agree to meet a friend for lunch, stick to your allotted time and get back to work on schedule.
- Real estate investors that are landlords have a saying that you need to “train your tenants”. What they mean by this is that you should let them know what you expect from them, and what they should expect from you. Spell out your procedures and your hours for doing business. Even if you are working at odd times, you should give the appearance to your tenants that you have regular office hours.
If they figure out that they can call you for a minor problem at times other than regular business hours, guess what! They will call you when it is convenient for them such as in the evening or on the weekend. Unless they have an urgent matter such as a furnace going out in the middle of the winter, their calls fall into two categories: “It can wait until the next business day” or “call 911”. It really is that simple.
- Have a separate business phone. It’s OK to use your cell phone so long as your voicemail has a professional message, and always answer the phone by stating your name. Even though you are working from home, no one needs to know.
- Have a separate home office if possible. When you are talking to clients the last thing you want your customer to hear is the kids, the TV or the dog barking. Having your own dedicated space will also help you to be more productive. If you don’t have the luxury of having a whole room to yourself, using a screen will give a visual separation from the other part of the room. Just because you work from home, this doesn’t make you less of a professional.
One last bit of advice. Invest in the technology you need to get the job done. You may be working out of a tiny room in your home, but you can project the image to the world that you are a first class company. How the internet has changed the face of business!