This is a contributor’s blogpost …
A lot of people get into working from home because it affords them some semblance of informality in their working life. They don’t like having to follow dress codes and they enjoy the freedom of it all. However, as a freelancer or a business owner, professionalism is essential. There are some rules you have to follow as well as those you have to enforce. Otherwise, your solo venture simply won’t last as long.
Above everything else, your legal responsibilities and liabilities are something you need to consider as a professional. You might not have your own office, but liability insurance for home business is still an important part of making sure you’re protected from how your business affects your customers and the mistakes that might cost you the whole venture. Otherwise, you have to make sure that your business is permitted where you live. Noise levels, traffic to-and-from your home, whether a commercial enterprise is even allowed on your property are some of the things you need to take into consideration. Without making sure you’re right by the law, you’re at serious risk of having the rug pulled from under you.
What about the actual work that you do? Some freedom in how and when you work is good and you’re free to express it whichever way you want. However, without facing up to the some of the challenges of working from home, you might not end up doing the level and standard of work necessary to sustain the business. Creating a proper work environment that allows focus and using the technical tools that make managing it much easier are some of the practical concerns you will face. There are also the emotional and mental challenges of time-management, facing isolation, and maintaining your work-life balance. You can’t ignore these challenges. You have to structure an approach to them.
If you’re starting a business, then you have to have a brand. It’s the public face to your clients and customers, and it’s how you gain the visibility needed to bring in leads. Failing to invest properly in your image will affect your reputation and how professional the market considers your services. Not every business owner is a marketing expert, and learning the ropes from a branding consultant can help you better understand your market.
Marketing gets them in the door, but handling client relationships is another matter entirely. Communication skills, both in clarity and promptness, are skills you need to develop to make sure that clients feel heard, understood, and valuable. But you have to also consider the inevitable risk you’re going to face problem clients. As well as setting your own standards for the work that you do, you have to set standards for how you deliver and price it or you risk letting clients take advantage of you. Those problem clients can do lasting damage, too. If someone is unreasonably unhappy with your services, they may lie to cause damage to your brand. Reputation management is key to keeping your small business’s image safe from falsehoods.
Professionalism in home business is non-negotiable. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you can succeed without putting in the effort.