If you’re running a business from home, there are many challenges to be faced. Not just in terms of starting your business, but also the practicalities of equipment, resources, space and time that you need. It can seem like a constant juggle of your priorities. However, setting up your business from home maximises your working flexibility whilst minimising your costs, commuting or otherwise, so it’s a great option, and sometimes the only option, for many small business owners.

Well, I didn’t start at a kitchen table but I did start at home. My dressing table to be precise, in a corner of my bedroom with a laptop and my BlackBerry. A few hours work each week, a couple of projects here and there, working the part time hours that I wanted to fit around my busy family.

Five years on, I’m still working from home but one of the major transformations over the past few years is how I see my business. The movement from home-worker to business owner.

But this blog isn’t about my business or about working mums (hoorah for us!), this is a few thoughts on running a business from home, the pros, the cons, the ups, the downs, the juggle and the balance. This is about celebrating the small business, the soloprenuer, or the cottage industry that starts at the kitchen table or the dressing table, in the garden shed, or even on the sofa.

The practicalities and spatial awareness

Is working from home working for you? If you are able to run your business from home in terms of the practicalities — a laptop, an internet connection, a mobile phone, some storage etc. — then all you need is just a little bit of space.

But you don’t really just need any bit of space, it helps to have a defined space for your work zone.  This will help you feel that you are actually ‘going to work’. Clear the clutter, shut the door and get in the zone, then you’ll be ready and focused. The dressing table worked well for me for a few years, I hot-desked at the dining room table too, but eventually I moved to an office in the garden. This was singularly my best move in terms of my business mindset and productivity. I was now taking my business seriously and thus my business takes me seriously.

Be flexible but beware of distractions

One of the huge benefits of working from home is the flexibility. A flexible working life means you can lead the life you want whilst running your business. If you prefer to work early in the morning, then do it. If you need a day off, you can take it (sometimes!). But be prepared, that unless you set some solid boundaries your work might start to creep in everywhere. The endless checking and replying to emails, it doesn’t stop. It can be difficult to switch off when it’s your own business, even more so without physical distance between your workplace and your home. Personally, I think that work/life balance is an outdated concept. If you love what you do, then it’s all just life, some of which you happen to get paid for.

“If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” Marc Anthony

With flexibility comes distractions and there are many pitfalls that can plunder your productivity. It’s difficult to even make a coffee whilst resisting the lure of domesticity. Not to mention your availability to friends and family who know that you’re “working from home” so call for a chat. Just roll with it, or not, you’re your own boss. You’d be having coffee breaks in the office, the only difference now is that this time is on your money!

About the author – Susanne Wakefield is a virtual assistant and freelance copywriter based in Kent. She helps consultants, small businesses and organisations make the most of their time by taking care of their admin and online content. www.writecloud.co.uk