If you’re gearing up to be your own boss, use the following tips to get started on the right foot.
1. Sort out all legal issues
While many home businesses can be run from an apartment, there are zoning and ordinance regulations in place that might slow you down. Remember what happened to the Michael Scott Paper Company?
TheSelfEmployed explains, “If your local area has an ordinance that covers home-based businesses, take a look at it to make sure that your plans are acceptable. These ordinances can vary widely, but most are logical and prevent you from running a commercial enterprise that would be damaging to the area where you live. For instance, a business that sees a lot of foot or car traffic is not likely to fly on a quiet cul-de-sac. Also, these ordinances often limit the number of employees a home-based business can have.”
If you do plan to increase foot traffic to your apartment or will be running a loud business (think music lessons), take a look at both local regulations and your lease. Your rental agreement may have a clause regarding running a business in the space and what is acceptable. If your business is run solely online, you likely don’t have anything to worry about.
2. Create a clean working space
A cluttered desk leads to a cluttered mind. The same goes for a cluttered space because clutter creates excessive stimuli, distracts us from work, makes it difficult to relax, and can create feelings of guilt, according to PsychologyToday. To be productive and effective during the workday, you need a space that’s clean and ready for work.
A separate room, or corner of a space with a room separator, is ideal. This allows you to shut out any potential home mess and also makes it easier to step away from work at the end of the day. Shut the door and work stays there, allowing you to unwind and avoid burnout. However, if you don’t have an extra room, focus on keeping a clean space for yourself, even if that’s the kitchen table.
If you can’t avoid clutter, build a quick cleanup into your morning routine so you’re not distracted by the pile of dishes or unfolded clothes.
3. Choose a go-to coffee shop
If you’ll be meeting with clients, choose a go-to coffee shop to meet — your apartment is likely not a professional enough space for client meetings unless there’s a separate door that goes directly to an office.
The goal is to find a location that’s easy to get to (ideally with parking) and quiet enough to have conversations. With a go-to coffee shop, you don’t have to stress about finding a new location for each meeting and will have one less thing to worry about going into the meeting itself.
4. Find your most productive hours
It may feel normal to work the same hours as you’re used to, typically 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. However, you’re no longer working on a schedule. If you find you’re most productive between the hours of 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., make that your new schedule. Without a boss to tell you when to be at your desk, you can focus on working when you know you’ll do your best work.
The key is to set and stick to this schedule. Yes, you can work at 8 p.m. if you want, but if you put off working all day and don’t work well at night, you’ll likely spend more time doing something that you’re not even putting your best effort into.
5. Make time for networking
Working from home can feel like living in a bubble, especially if you live alone. To combat loneliness, while also keeping your business skills sharp, attend networking events.
Networking allows you to connect with like-minded people who can provide a fresh perspective or spark new ideas. Without someone to bounce ideas off of everyday, it can be easy to get into a rut with your work.
Plus, networking is a chance to practice your elevator pitch and connect with potential clients. As such, when running a business out of your apartment, this is critical.