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A home office might sound ideal, but there are some things you need to consider. Here are some tips for starting a home business, and making sure you can sustain it once you’ve got it.

1. Have a good idea
This may sound obvious, but it’s fundamental to the success of your business venture. For a home-based business to work, you will have to ensure that your idea is both marketable and appropriate for the environment. You need to know that your idea is good and that you can achieve success with it. Perhaps you already know this, which is great, but it’s not the end of your worries. You now have to assess your skills and establish a means for realising that idea. So many bright ideas come to nothing because people do not know how to make them come about.

2. Be realistic
Realising a dream may mean dialling back a bit. Take a good look at yourself, your personality and your skills, then look at the world around you and realistically adapt your idea to those things. You may find that what you thought was a brilliant idea does not hold up under that kind of scrutiny. However, that does not mean the end – simply reconsider, and do so with your eyes a little more open.

3. Set goals and stick to them
This goes for both the start-up stages and the actual running of an established home-based business. As with any business start up, it is vital to know your aims and map out a clear path to reaching them. Have this clearly laid out in a way that you find easy to follow, and mark off your accomplishments as you go along. Not only will this keep you on top of things, but it’s an effective motivational tool as well, as you have the satisfaction of ticking off the things you have done and watching your list grow shorter.
Once your business is already up and running, you will need to maintain a consistent organisational routine. Find a method that works for you, and anyone who might be working with you, and stick to it. Make sure that your daily schedule allows you to achieve your tasks in a way that is conducive to the home environment. If you have kids, you will have to factor in the time you will need to spend on them in the day. Make sure you get your work done, without letting your home life fall by the way side. This brings us to our next point.

4. Don’t let your home turn into “the office”
From the outset, you need to establish boundaries between your home life and your work life. Pick a room in your house where the majority of the work will get done. Put in a phone line separate to your home line. Close the door if necessary, whatever it takes for you to feel like you are at work when you are working, and at home when you are not. The last thing you want is to feel stressed out when you are trying to relax with your family or friends. Schedule your days so that you have a clocking off time and a lunch break, so that you avoid the potential feeling of always being at work, which can be a side effect of establishing a business in your home. Your time with yourself or your family is just as important, if not more important, than your office hours. Keep focused and don’t let the lines blur.

The part-time University of Cape Town (Law@Work) Start and Manage a Small Business short course is presented online throughout South Africa. Contact Amy-Jane on 021 447 7565 or visit www.getsmarter.co.za for more information.