Starting and running a business from home can be a great way to build an extra income for yourself. Operating a business from home is cheap and convenient, and can make a lot of sense for mumpreneurs or in fact all kinds of stay-at-home or part time entrepreneurs.

But a home business is a special kind of business animal. It’s not like a regular, premises-based 9 to 5 business run from a shop or office.

5 Tips to Improve Your Home Business

I’ve been working from home for years, and if you’re to make a success of a home business idea here are a few hints and tips that I hope might help you:

Put out a professional image: Maybe there are some exceptions, but it’s never usually a good idea to let your customers know you’re running your business from home. They’ll assume (quite wrongly) that you’re amateurish or un-businesslike in your approach. And they might even expect your prices to be lower than shop or office based businesses too.

So make sure your business looks totally professional at all times. For example, make sure your business stationery, advertising literature and website looks every bit as smart as a ‘proper’ business (which of course it is).

Have a separate phone line for your business: And answer it like a proper business would. Don’t use your home phone line or personal mobile phone. Nothing sounds worse than your kids answering the phone or the sound of the TV in the background when customers call!

Another advantage of having a separate landline/mobile for your business is that you can switch off from it when your business is closed.

Have a PO box or accommodation address: If your business is likely to receive lots of mail then a PO box or accommodation address at a business centre will look more professional than using your home address. It will help to avoid callers at inconvenient times too.

Keep a separate office in your home: If at all possible, designate an area in your home to be used as your office/workshop/store. It doesn’t need to be fancy – there’s no need for oak office furniture and potted palms. A spare bedroom, garage, shed or even a large cupboard under the stairs will do. This way you can keep everything for your business all together in one place.

Another big advantage of doing this is that when you’re in your office you’ll be ‘at work’ and will tend to be more focused on what you’re doing, and more motivated. (Try it and see!) When the working day is over you can also switch off and relax more easily.

Manage your time effectively: This is probably the single most important tip I can give you. At the outset, decide how much time you want to devote to your business – and stick to it religiously. It might be five hours a week, ten hours a week, whatever – but stick to it.

Also, try and set fairly regular working hours if you can. This helps you remain more professional and focussed. The great thing about a home business of course is that you can pick whatever working hours you want. If you want to work just school hours, or early in the morning, or just in the evenings then you can!