This post was updated on Jan. 17, 2018.
When you first start a home business, there are a lot of mistakes others have made you can try to avoid. But one that many people don’t talk about is setting a home business up … for failure. Just because you're working out of the comfort of your home doesn't mean you can take a lackadaisical approach to how you manage your business. Like any other small business venture, you need to evaluate your skill set to generate a business that is both profitable and enjoyable — all while managing your home life (and your time) effectively.
10 tips for launching a home business
While home-based businesses are the logical choice for many first-time entrepreneurs, likely because 70 percent of home-based business are successful within three years, there’s definitely a right and wrong way to start one. These 10 tips will help ensure that you stay focused on your business, and not sidetracked by all the pitfalls and distractions in your home.
Carve out an office.
Set ground rules.
Consider child care.
Treat it like a "real" business.
Put blinders on.
Don't tell your friends.
Get out occasionally.
Build your team.
Grow your skills.
Find a community online.
Home businesses generate roughly $427 billion annual revenue each year. So if you want to capitalize on those potential funds, then you'll need to keep these 10 steps in mind to set yourself up for success.
1. Carve out an office
You don’t have to convert a spare bedroom if you don’t have one to spare! Even a closet or partitioned-off section of a room will do for your home office. But do designate space for it. You need to spatially — and emotionally — stake your claim over part of your home for your business. Otherwise, you end up working on the couch, sitting on your baby’s squeaky toy. Not the ideal setup for someone who plans to succeed as a business owner!
2. Set ground rules
Your family needs to know and respect the fact that you’ll be working out of the home. That doesn’t mean you’re available to run errands, deal with the appliance repairman, or fold laundry. Make it clear that you want to focus on work when you’re in your office, and let your family know when you will be available.
3. Consider child care
If you have small ones at home, you might have this ideal vision of running your business and lovingly caring for your kids. Sorry to shatter that dream, but it’s not a good idea.
Being torn between two very important parts of your life will make you not very good at either.
You can’t focus on your business if your child is crawling in your lap, and you can’t put all your attention on your kids if your mind is on that proposal you’re drafting. Putting the kids in child care or hiring a sitter for a few hours will let you divide up your day so you can focus on one thing at a time.
4. Treat it like a "real" business
I don’t know where the stigma of a home business not being “real” came from, but home-based business owners are sometimes the ones to perpetuate this myth. You run an honest-to-goodness business, so treat it like one! Invest in things like a professional website and the right business structure to ensure you succeed.
5. Put blinders on
If you’re new to working from home, it’s easy to get distracted by, oh, your DVR full of your favorite show, your dog who’s begging for a belly rub, that cake left over from last weekend’s party … the list of things that will threaten to deter you from your work are endless. But just tell yourself that you’re at work, and those distractions will have to wait until your work day ends.
6. Don’t tell your friends
OK, I exaggerate. You can tell your friends you work from home, but what you don’t want is them showing up uninvited to drink coffee and chat or go out for lunch. They need to respect the fact that just because you’re at home doesn’t mean you’re their midday play buddy.
7. Get out occasionally
It’s easy to stay isolated when you work from home, but getting out and being around people is good for you. Try working from your local coffee shop, or attending business networking events each month. You might even find new business that way!
8. Build your team
Working out of your home doesn’t mean you don’t need help or shouldn’t hire it because you don’t have the office space. Delegating work, like blog content, graphic design or accounting, can be affordable if you hire freelancers, and they don’t have to work out of your house to get the job done.
9. Grow your skills
Once you launch your home business, keep your industry, marketing and overall business skills sharp by continually seeking knowledge. You can read blogs, books and magazines, as well as take online webinars, e-courses or in-person continuing education classes.
10. Find a community online
It can make you feel less isolated if you connect with other entrepreneurs who also work from home online. You can find them in forums, online communities and social media.
Run a successful home business
Running a business out of your home is a great way to save money and keep your commute short. Set yourself up for success by paying attention to your business’s needs and avoiding those pesky distractions!
Editor's note: Part of any successful business is starting and maintaining a strong online identity. Start by securing a domain name — even if you're not ready to build a site yet. Once you are, consider something like GoDaddy's Website Builder or Online Store (if you're in the eCommerce game). They're easy to use, visually stunning, and make for a great user experience.