Running an online business at home is a matter of setting priorities, and learning to draw boundaries that others will respect. It is the most comfortable and convenient of working circumstances, especially for parents, but it’s also fraught with opportunities for distraction. When a person’s home office is their den, just steps away from the rest of their home, it can become very easy for him to lose focus on his work. Strategies may be implemented that will help curb these tendencies toward inattention.
The first such strategy is for the home working person to see his home office only as a workplace. It’s where he goes to work every day, just as he might go to the office in the outside world. It is a workplace that is very convenient to his home, but it’s not a part of his home. It’s nowhere to kick off his shoes and watch the game while he’s compiling code or performing some other task. A workplace is for work.
It’s a good idea to set office hours. Until a solid work pattern is established, it’s a good idea to kick the TV into the next room too. Some people choose to shut off their home telephones, or send calls to voice mail, while working at home. If necessary, set-up an office phone line account and treat it as an office number. Many well-intentioned people forget that having friends who work at home doesn’t mean their friends don’t have office hours like everyone else. A business person who worked in an office would only be contacted in times of emergency. A business person who runs their own online home business should be treated the same way.
Online business traits make it sometimes even more difficult to define a home office as a workspace, since one’s work life and personal online lives often intermingle. However, it’s good professional hygiene to draw a firm line between personal and work life online as well as off. Personal Facebook IDs mixing with working ones can get one into a lot of trouble. What is a comfortable and acceptable identity to have with one’s friends might be another matter entirely to current or potential clients. It’s also a good idea to keep entirely different email addresses for home and work use. It’s not only helpful for general work habits, it’ll also prevent the unaware business person from using his outrageous Doctor Who tagline with an important work account.
In essence, the way to run an online business at home is to run it like any other. The only difference is the worker works from home.