Article: Jennifer Stewart

The Small Business Library

Last update: December 4, 1999

Your Home Office: What work can you do from home?

One of the great things about the internet, is the way it has enabled so many people to work from home. There are many advantages to leading a SOHO existence (Sole Occupier Home Office):
  • the 30 second commute - no more traffic jams
  • more time with your family
  • the freedom of being your own boss. (You have the freedom to work any 80 hours in the week you wish!!)

What work can you do from home?

The easy answer is virtually anything you can do well - with "virtually" being the operative word. These days, telecommuting has become accepted practice in many large firms - with even full-time staff working from their own homes.

You can set up your own business, based on what you were doing for a boss or you can establish a new business, based on an offshoot of something you were doing.

You can turn a hobby or interest into a business - anything from stamp collecting, art, needlework, antique cars and furniture making to public speaking, poetry, music and meditation can become a successful online business.

Use your professional skills in law, architecture, engineering, accountancy etc, to establish yourself as a consultant, trainer or to embark on the speakers' trail.

What you need to start

  1. Interest and skill in your chosen area
  2. A half-way decent PC
  3. A modem
  4. An internet connection
  5. A good printer
  6. A scanner (optional but handy)

How to get started

  • Check out any government requirements (local, state and federal)
  • Register a business name
  • Set up a separate bank account
  • Set up merchant facilities so you can accept credit card payments on your website
  • Design (or have designed) a website to reflect your business image
  • Investigate all ways to promote your new business - on and off line

The pitfalls of working from home

It's easy to get carried away with the glamorous vision of yourself, conducting your successful home based business. However, there are some inherent problems:

  • You can easily spend too much time in your home office - there are no clocks to punch here - you'll often find yourself still working long after you would normally have gone home from a "real job".

  • You can just as easily be seduced into the "manyana" mind set - the "Oh, it's a lovely day, I'll just go for a stroll now and come back and finish that later"... syndrome.

  • You may miss having workmates and colleagues around (however much you doubt it at the moment!!) It can be lonely.

  • You need to establish strict guidelines with the rest of your family regarding your office precinct and hours. You can't take over the dining room end of the family living room as your office and then grumble when the rest of the family engage in their own activities at the other end. Set up an exclusive area for your office.

Be firm with your friends who may think that they can call around for social calls at any time of the day. Let them know from the beginning that you're "off limits" for social visits during working hours.


There are so many people setting up home offices these days, that you can always find someone to discuss any problems with, and you will find unlimited help on the internet - just type in a search for whatever it is you need to know, and 9 times out of 10, you'll find what you need first go!

Article by Jennifer Stewart,
Jennifer offers professional writing services - copy writing, editing and proof reading your: web pages, press releases, technical booklets, newsletters, business proposals, reports or any other writing projects.