Franchising has come a long way in a short time – long gone is the notion that franchising is only about fast food. Similarly, long gone is the notion that a franchise location will always consist of a ’bricks and mortar’ structure.
The era of the home-based office has arrived and is surely here to stay.
People are often drawn to a franchise because it offers a home-based environment – individuals transitioning from the corporate world to that of self-employment and business ownership often see substantial benefits in a home-based environment. This can be especially true if an individual has spent several hours a day commuting to their place of employment.
Transitioning to a home-based office is, however, not just about the commute and perhaps a more relaxed life and work style. When considering a home-based approach there are some fundamentals that must be remembered.
Here are five things that every would-be home-based entrepreneur should consider and examine carefully before they launch a home-based business.
1. Do I really need an ‘office’?
We think the answer is yes – you need a dedicated specific space that is your office. Working from the kitchen counter or the back of your garage is not a professional environment – you need a clearly defined area that is the office where you ‘go to’ work. It should, therefore, not be a dual purpose area that doubles up as an office for a certain period of the day. Not all ‘homes’ are conducive to an office environment.
2. Office equipment
Just because you are in a home environment does not mean that you do not need appropriate office equipment that will enable you to run your business effectively and professionally. You must have the right tools to do the job and if that requires some expenditure, then that is all part of your investment.
3. Work when you feel like it?
Running a business from the home office is just that – it is running a business, and is not something that you can do as and when you feel like it. You should always have specific hours when you are ‘available’, and they should naturally be in the normal core business time range. Even though you are in a home-based environment, you’re still interacting with clients and customers who are running businesses from perhaps a more conventional environment.
4. Dress for success
This statement opens up the debate as to whether in a home-based environment you can conduct business in your PJ’s – we think the answer to this is, No. It would be argued that one of the reasons why a home-based office is desirable is the fact that you can dress ‘down’ and not be overly concerned about your appearance. That may well be the case, however you must establish some appropriate standards that work – it is generally accepted that an individual works better when they dress appropriately.
5. The right business
Not all businesses lend themselves to a home-based environment, and you need to examine any business or franchise carefully to ensure that it would fit into such a framework. Normally if you are looking at a franchise, then the franchisor will have already predetermined if a home-based approach is acceptable. If it is a non-franchised business, then you certainly need to consider all of the aspects of the business and how they relate to your home environment before you take the plunge.
Running a home-based franchise certainly has many positive advantages, however there are still some ‘rules’ that one should adopt in order to make the home office a productive place. In trying to determine what is right and appropriate and acceptable, the easiest approach may be to just compare the home-based situation with the corporate office situation. Most people have experienced life in the corporate office at some point in their career, and they clearly understand the standards that are expected. Translating those into a home-based office is an appropriate process in order to determine what is workable and acceptable.
Before you take the step of establishing a home-based office, run down the checklist and make sure that you have appropriate space and equipment and, above all, the self-discipline to make it work.
David Banfield is the President of The Interface Financial Group, a position that he has held for over 20 years. He has been instrumental in starting Interface as a franchise opportunity and building it to its current international status. Prior to his involvement with Interface, he worked extensively in the banking, credit and factoring financial service areas.