What do Apple, Disney, Google, Hewlett Packard and Mattel all have in common? They started small, from their homes to be precise, and it really did pay off.(This was where Google started - in a garage) (This was where Hewlett Packard (HP) started - in a garage)
If you are contemplating a new business venture, why not utilise an asset you already have as your headquarters? Yes, convert a spare room into a dedicated office space, and you may soon be going to work in your pyjamas.
Before you do however, read on to find out if this decision is a fitting choice and how you can get started.
Is it a good idea?
Businesses in the start-up phase usually operate with very low capital, thus working from a home office can help you maximise your resources and channel the excess toward other expenses.
Renting an office space in KL or any major city in Malaysia can easily run into the thousands. However, working from home in the early stages may cost you nothing but the rental or loan instalment you’re already paying for your place.
Moreover, it may not make good financial sense to rent an office space if you freelance or are a contract worker who only works on occasion.
When is setting up a home office not a good idea?
If you are merely using your home office to maintain the administration of your business, then the set-up is rather straightforward.
On the other hand, if you intend to utilise your home as the main hub for your business activities, you may need to reconsider your base if the business:
- Requires storage space to house inventory.
- Involves the constant shuffle of suppliers, clients and dispatch.
- Will need to hire staff.
While some businesses can adapt to an unconventional environment, not all can be run from home. Nevertheless, these snags could be manageable if you can rent storage space for your stock, hire people who are willing to work from home (most of the time) and opt to see your clients outside.
Also you might want to consider buying or renting a SoHo (Small Office Home Office) as it is usually located within a commercially designated zone and can serve a business that is more energetic. You’ll find that SoHo properties are a great fit for modern professionals who either operate their own businesses or work from home. The property market in Malaysia is currently ripe with quality SoHo-styled properties. For an example of a trendy Soho, check out this link: http://www.propsocial.my/property/469/subang-jaya/subang-soho . Alternatively, you can use PropSocial to find more reviews on the SoHos available in the country.
How to choose the right space?
The right room or area will have the potential to limit distraction and improve productivity, so consider these tips when designating your home workspace:
1. Don’t use your bedroom. Try keeping the two separate if possible, you might not be able to turn your mind off before bedtime if you are focused on your work desk.
Also, your bedroom may have a sluggish atmosphere that keeps you from being as productive as you should be. If you are yawning when you see your computer, it could be an indication that you need to relocate your workspace.
2. Avoid open spaces (unless you live alone). A smaller space with walls and doors is more conducive (unless you are prone to claustrophobia) in that it can shut out noise and other distractions more easily.
Creating a separate zone may also help you maintain a balance between home life and work responsibilities, so you can shift in and out of business mode while at your ‘office’.
3. Get a room with a view. If you’re fortunate enough to have one, face your desk in its direction. Alternatively, try placing your desk by a window, to give the impression of a wider space. This may help you feel less stifled, boost creativity and even help you work for longer hours.
What supplies will you need for your office?
It will depend on the nature of your business, but these basics are still required by most businesses:
1. Storage cabinets
Keep all important documents in the same room as your workspace. This will help you conveniently find what you need, when you need it.
Bad habits easily form in home offices because there’s no one to keep you in check, but leaving your papers around will clutter your work area which could hinder work progress.
2. Comfy Chair and Large Desk
If you have the money, don’t skimp on quality and worse still, don’t grab one of your plastic garden chairs to double as your work chair. You will undoubtedly spend long hours sitting, so buy the best one you can afford, if possible with lumbar support and extra padding.
As for desks, look for ones that come with at least two drawers, sizeable enough to accommodate your computer and with space leftover for you to write. Larger desks are the way to go if you have enough funds and space to spare.
3. Machines and Devices
Home offices need to maximise space since there usually is not much of it. Thus it may be better to purchase all-in-one machines that can fax, scan and copy to help you save room and even cost.
Motivation is an issue when working from home, so be sure to set up your computer station ergonomically to keep your work area comfortable and inviting.
4. Stationery and Supplies
Keep your stationery to the bare minimum and buy only the most important, these supplies silently (and unnecessarily) eat away at your budget and clutter up your workspace.
If however, you need to go beyond the basics and procure special art supplies or tools, be sure to get a small storage unit to keep them organized and tidy.
While you might be extremely excited to start working from home, consider that it’s not all sunshine and roses all the time. You may have to deal with noise, and the constant pull to do something else more fun. And unfortunately, even mundane duties could seem more exciting when compared to doing your accounts.