Starting your own business gives you plenty to think about, including where to run it from. You’ve got to find the right space, budget for rent, and maintain overheads before you can even think about the day job.
It’s unsurprising, then, that more and more start-ups are looking at working from home as an alternative. But despite the obvious appeal, how practical is it, and what do you need to do differently?
If you’re thinking of running your business from home, here are four things to consider before you get started.
Firstly, is it legal?
As with most things in a business, running one from home isn’t as straightforward as it sounds. Rather than sticking a laptop in your front room and declaring it your office, there are some legal aspects to think about first.
Like making sure your tax won’t change. Depending on the nature and size of your enterprise, areas of your home may be subject to business rates as opposed to the traditional council tax – just speak to your local authority and double check.
If you rent your house, you may need clear permission from your landlord or letting agent before getting started. And even if you’re a homeowner, some mortgage lenders prohibit business use in their terms and conditions, so be sure to consult your contract.
Taking out insurance is also a must. While you won’t need it if you’re just doing ‘office work’, it’ll cover any stock or equipment if your business has assets. And if you’re intending to have clients visit you, you’ll need public liability insurance as well.
Are your finances sorted?
If you’re about to start your own business, having your finances in order is a given. But working from home brings a few extra considerations.
Your first point of call is to hire an accountant. While you may well be good with numbers, they’ll help you spot those extra costs that can arise when you’re at home. And on the flip side, they can make sure you claim back any expenses to which you’re entitled.
Now you’re a business, that phone, broadband and heating bill doesn’t all have to come out of your pocket.
Have you got the right space?
Where you work often says a lot about how you work, so you have to ensure working from home is practical for your business.
Do you have enough room? Do you have privacy? If you need to be creative, will your surroundings really inspire you? And if you’re client-facing, you’ll need to consider meetings. Restaurants and bars offer a good alternative – providing they lend the right tone – or you’ll need to make sure you’re ready to receive visitors.
Rather than a house in which you work, your home needs to become a direct replacement for the office environment.
Is everyone on board?
It goes without saying, but turning a communal home into the epicentre of a budding business needs to be a mutual decision. You’ll need time and understanding while you settle into your new venture, while friends and family will require space to adjust.
Make sure you sit down with them and discuss your plans. Set out your goal and tell them what it will take to succeed. Talk through any concerns they may have, and if needed define a set of ‘house rules’ to maintain balance.
It’s important to clearly separate “work you” and “home you”. Start the day in your dedicated space, keep your head in business-related matters and maintain your focus. Then when your work hours are over, be ready to switch off and you can make sure both sides of your life can succeed together.
For further advice, please speak to one of our commercial insurance experts.