Flying Without a Net
© 2003 Elena Fawkner
One of most exciting and daunting things about starting your own home-based business as your sole means of income is reality that no one is responsible for your success or failure but you. The lure of home-based business is undeniable. But before joining revolution, take time to think about real implications of self-responsibility. In past, you've always had security of knowing that your employer was taking care of background details ... you know, those little things like retirement plans, health insurance and capital investment. And making enough money to cover your salary and vacation time. Now it's all down to you.
So, let's take a look at four of biggies: health and safety, insurance, tax issues and zoning.
HEALTH AND SAFETY
No matter how much you've invested in setting up your business, nothing is more valuable to your business or to you as your good health and safety.
Apart from obvious measures such as ensuring you have adequate health insurance, keep following basics in mind.
=> You Are Not A Machine
Take regular breaks. These are important for your physical and mental health, not to mention your productivity. Breaks can be particularly important if your livelihood requires you to spend hours on end in front of a computer. The last thing you or your business needs is for you to develop carpal tunnel syndrome!
Avoid temptation to do household chores or errands on your break time. That's not a break. Do something that breaks mental spell, something that gets you out of your work environment for fifteen minutes every couple of hours. Go wander around outside and take some deep breaths to cleanse your lungs. Lift weights. Call a friend. Go sit in backyard with a cup of cocoa and enjoy sunshine. It doesn't matter what you do, but make yourself do it. Set an alarm to remind yourself if you must.
=> Use Correct Equipment Right Way
Make sure you use correct equipment for task at hand. If your work requires long hours in front of a computer, make sure that your desk and chair are properly aligned and your work area is well lit. Ensure you maintain good posture.
=> Nap when sleepy
Many home-based business owners work odd hours. That, after all, is one of advantages! But if you start working very early or work very late into night, your sleep patterns need to adjust accordingly. Therefore, if you find yourself feeling sleepy mid-afternoon, take an hour's nap. Any longer though and you'll risk waking sluggish and tired. Set an alarm to wake you if think you'll go longer than an hour or 45 minutes. Don't tell yourself you can't afford time to take a nap. A nap will do wonders for your productivity and you will be refreshed and ready to get back to work. You'll find you'll accomplish much more by end of day than you would have if you forced yourself to keep ploughing ahead even though you were so sleepy you couldn't think straight.
=> Home Alone Security
Security is an issue for any home-based worker. Apart from personal security which is always an issue for everyone wherever they work, home-based office with its usual array of expensive computer and other office equipment, and heaven knows whatever else electronic gadgetry is a prime target for thieves. So take these basic precautions:
* Don't expose your expensive office equipment to view of casual passersby. Obscure view with foliage (but not so much that you provide a place for would-be intruders to hide) and draw blinds when you're away from home.
* Keep your doors deadbolted when you're home as well as when you're away.
* Think twice about inviting new clients to your home office. Try and meet at client's office wherever possible or, if not, at a neutral location.
* Ensure your property is well lit at night to deter intruders.
* Don't advertise fact that you work from home.
* Consider using a post office box for your office address. This is particularly useful if you run an online business and are concerned about revealing your residential address to all and sundry.
* Get an alarm system installed and display alarm company's sign prominently on your property.
* A dog can be a great security device, not to mention company for solo worker!
Don't rely on your homeowner's insurance to cover your business. Most policies limit loss of business property to $2,500 and don't cover losses away from home.
And you can just forget about claiming on your homeowner's policy for injury sustained by a client visiting your home office.
So ensure you obtain business insurance separate from your homeowner's policy or, if your insurance company offers it, an endorsement to your existing policies. This type of extension, where available, can be as low as an additional $200 or so annually.