A lot of first-time home-based business owners are surprised to learn that the biggest threat to their business is something that is entirely within their control.
More than anything else, distractions are a hurdle you will need to overcome to make your business a success. Avoiding distractions can be challenging, but it is possible. Here's how . . .
Even though you are working at home it's important to treat your business like a "real" job. This may sound silly because starting a business is probably the hardest job you've ever worked.
However, when you run your business from home there is a tendency to allow the distractions of home life to interfere with your ability to focus on business activities. Structure and discipline are the tools you'll need to maintain focus and maximize your effectiveness from home.
The location of your home-based office is your first line of defense in maintaining focus at home. Your office needs to be a space that is designated for exclusively business purposes. (If you plan on taking a tax deduction for your home office, it needs to be exclusive and separate anyway.)
Ideally, your office should be located far away from the kitchen, TVs, and other high traffic areas. If that's not possible, you may need to be creative and schedule your family's activities to allow time for peace and quiet.
One of the advantages of working from home is that you have the freedom to schedule your work hours at times that are convenient for you. The danger is that some home-based business owners never actually schedule work hours and instead find themselves constantly struggle to find time to do work. Develop a schedule of business hours and stick to it just like you did when you were working as an employee.
The internet is a wonderful tool for home-based businesses. It gives you the ability to conduct real business and compete with companies that are much larger in size. But unfortunately the internet can also become a fatal distraction. Without someone looking over your shoulder, it's possible to waste hours and hours surfing the internet for things that may not even be related to your business. Unless you are doing something related to the business, close your browser and keep it closed during work hours.
The decision to start a home-based business affects the entire family. Spouses, kids, and even pets will need to make some adjustments to help you stay focused on the business of running a business. Clearly communicate your space and time boundaries to the other members of your household and gently remind them of those boundaries when they are violated.
No matter how hard you try, it is impossible to completely eliminate distractions from a home-based business. So instead of fighting distractions, why not work with them? Schedule time for things like spending time with the kids, writing Christmas cards, or watching a TV show. By scheduling your distractions you will reinforce work/leisure boundaries and give yourself a little down time in the middle of the workday.