What it takes to start a new business from home

By Colin Barrow

According to the Office of National Statistics figures from March 2017, 4,792,000 people ran their own business in the UK in one form or another. That’s an increase of 22% since the financial crash of 2010. Although there are no specific figures for businesses run from home, we do know that a home-based start up can quite feasibly turn into a large successful business in no time. A perfect example would be Dame Mary Perkins, who has taken Specsavers from just two staff working at a table-tennis table, to employing over 26,000 people worldwide, and the company now has more than 1,390 stores.

So, what does it take to start a successful business from home? Well, all the usual suspects still apply here: you need a sound business proposition, a willingness to take risks and are comfortable with living with a high degree of uncertainty. But working from home creates its own unique demands. Whilst travelling to work every day can be stressful and is almost invariably a waste of time, it does at least give you some personal space. Also once you are at your business premises you can, for a while at least, leave your home concerns behind.

So what super attributes does a home starter need? Being organised and self-motivated are top of my list.

Most of us have a false impression of how we use our time and how it affects our performance. With no one looking over your shoulder the temptation to be disorganised and distracted can be powerful disrupters. So the home based business starter has to be super organised.

  • Make sure you have a daily and weekly ‘to-do’ list. Without a clear set of objectives backed up with a method of assigning priority between tasks, then you are being ruled by the incoming post, telephone calls, visitors or chance meetings. Having measurable goals to achieve within set timescales is the motivating force that drives entrepreneurs on to achieve exceptional results.
  • Establish your key priorities. Not all tasks are equally important or equally urgent. The first task in time management is to establish the priority and when a task has to be done and how much time should be devoted to it.
  • Review how you actually spend your time. The Pareto, or 80/20 rule suggests that in 20 per cent of your time you will achieve 80 per cent of the results that matter. The remaining 20 per cent of results will come from 80 per cent of your efforts. The task is to reallocate your time towards those tasks that matter and either cut back or eliminate time spent on less essential matters.

Motivating is something that you expect to have done to you. In an organization, managers rush around appraising, praising, rewarding and holding morale-boosting corporate events with prizes and applause in abundance. But as a home worker it’s down to you to motivate yourself. As well as goals and targets you need rewards for success. So when you succeed in a task give yourself anything from a pat on the back to a lunch out, depending on the scale of the victory. If you take your partner or family out for that lunch you can bask in their praise as well as getting them to appreciate why you need the space in the house that you have carved out for your business.

Colin Barrow is author of Starting a Business from Home