With nearly 1 million Australians working from home on a regular basis and over half of the population identifying themselves as ‘digital workers’, the way in which we work is changing.
This number is ever increasing, as internet and cloud services become a core part of everyday life and more and more people choose to work on the go, or from the comfort of their own homes.
The lure of a comfy sofa set-up, unlimited cups of coffee and a quick TV break or walk in the park may sound like the dream, but remember that for every upside there’s usually a downside - so it’s extremely important to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages.
Things to consider
Any successful home business requires an owner who can tackle a variety of issues. The success of your business will be down to your approach and your level of planning.
Like any business, the best place to start is with an in-depth research and a business plan. To develop a solid business plan, make sure you ask yourself the following questions:
Is your home really the best place for your business?
What registrations and licences apply to your business?
What taxes are you required to register for?
Are you going to employ anyone else?
How will you manage your finances?
What type of insurance do you need?
Can you conduct business under the local council regulations?
Before deciding that it is the right option for you, it's probably worth considering whether you're the type of person who can deal with running a start-up on your own at home. Make sure you're not just looking for the easy option, because it isn't always as cushy as it seems.
Firstly, plan ahead effectively. Good time management is crucial and by reviewing your goals at the start of the day you have more chance of meeting them. Make a schedule of tasks for the day and build a routine.
Define your workspace. Making a mental and physical distinction between your home and your working life is essential, both to resist procrastination and to prevent work from consuming your life.
Creating a dedicated working area is essential. Separate telephone lines for home and business could help you to maintain a boundary.
Take the assembly of your home office seriously. It should be comfortable, well-lit and properly equipped.
Place your desk or workspace near to a natural source of light and organise an efficient filing system before establishing your start-up. This means you avoid the risk of papers piling up during your first few hectic weeks in business. There are now a wide variety of home office workstations which are fully mobile and can be moved from room to room.
Get out of the '9 to 5' mind-set. If you work better early in the morning, for example, then use the time effectively and finish earlier.
Try to mix with people as often as possible to stave off cabin fever. You could attend dedicated start-up networking events or meet up with old colleagues, friends and business associates with whom you can discuss new ideas.
And finally, try to get the balance right. Take care that your office and working life doesn't encroach onto your personal life as you could just end up back at square one in terms of your work/life balance.
Another thing to consider is whether you are liable for capital gains tax and local property taxes, which are usually applied where one or more rooms are reserved entirely for business purposes. To avoid liability, try to work in the normal home environment, maybe in a quiet corner of the living room or from the garage. Alternatively, where one room must be set aside for business purposes, leave a few small items of domestic furniture in the room.
Even if you prefer working in the office, having things set up so that you and your employees can work from home at a moment's notice is useful if you need to put in extra hours at the weekend, or if there were ever a problem - for instance if your office building was evacuated because of fire, or if inclement weather made it difficult to get into the office.
When operating a home business, it's worthwhile remembering that it's not just about working for yourself. You will still need management skills, self-discipline, a good grip on financing and a long-term vision to see your business grow and succeed - It's up to you to weigh up the pros and cons.