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Running a small business from home

More and more people are setting up their own businesses from home, thanks to major advances in web technology, and the realisation that there is no such thing as a ‘permanent’ job any more.

The Company Bug team have set up and run many companies over the past 15 years – and for most of the time, they have all been run from home rather than a specific ‘workplace’.

Here are some tips we’d like to share to make running your business from home more efficient, and profitable.

Working from home expenses

Although HMRC allows a pitiful £4 per week standard expense (correct as of January 2016), deductible against Corporation Tax (for limited companies), or income tax (sole traders), if you run your business from home, you may well be entitled to claim a proportion of your household expenses against the company. The expenses you can claim vary depending on whether you’re a limited company director, or a sole trader.

Giving a professional image

Even if you work from home, you can still present a professional image of your business, thanks to major advances in technology over the past decade. You can use mail forwarding service and telephone answering services, use VOIP for cheap calls over the web with a dedicated ‘landline’ type number (for faxes too). Make sure you print well-designed business cards, and use the same branding across all your stationery and electronic communications. Get more ideas in our article – how to make your company look like a big business.

Cloud computing

The latest revolution in web technology is the widespread adoption of ‘cloud computing’, where all the data you’d usually store on your PC or Mac is actually stored online, meaning you can access it anywhere. Some of the most common uses of cloud computing include webmail (such as Gmail), collaboration tools (such as Google Apps, and Basecamp), and a growing number of excellent online accounting tools – such as FreeAgent. All of these tools can save you a great deal of time, and can help you organise your business in an efficient way.

Separate work and home lives

From our personal experience, it is very easy for your work and home lives to merge into one – especially if you have children. Above all, you should designate a part of the home for pure business use. Ideally, this will be a separate part of the home, or at least a dedicated room. Some people find it hard to adjust to working from home, especially if they have come from a structured traditional office environment. For this reason, you should build a routine, and stick to it from day one. You may have to patiently train other family members to respect your need for quiet and privacy when you are working.

Keep organised

Not only will having an organised work area prevent you overlooking important tasks, but it is also good for the mind. Create a filing system to keep all your paperwork organised, and consider moving as much of your paperwork online as possible. Applications such as Google Drive enable you to store all your documents on the web (and lets you share them with others if you wish). Again, an online accounting system will massively simplify your paperwork.

Are you insured?

You may find that your home insurance policy doesn’t cover business equipment, in which case you should take out a separate business policy. If any members of the public are going to visit you at home, you should also consider taking out public liability insurance in case they are injured on your premises. Visit our insurance section for more details.

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