Small Business

The challenges of running a business from home

Colleagues also bring closeness, but not all firms move out after hiring their first worker; Migrate’s employees also worked from home. “That makes it easy for people to go off on tangents when you aren’t touching base,” says Chalmers, who implemented a daily video call to keep his remote team focused and motivated.

They now work side-by-side in a co-working space. It’s five days a week, but there are “flexible” and part-time options out there, he explains. “You can just turn up, plug in and go for a few hours.”

Hitchcock moved to a Barclays Eagle Labs space in Bournemouth last year. “I get more done without the distractions of home.” Fellow business owners also help her to solve problems and generate new ideas, while coffee machine chats provide some social relief, she adds.

All the founders appreciate that even a part-time co-working arrangement will be too expensive for those just starting out, so they suggest joining free social media communities. “There are lots of Facebook groups full of advice and support,” says Hitchcock, who uses The Coven and Discovher, which cater for women.

These solutions, however, rely on start-ups looking after themselves or each other, but it shouldn’t always be that way, thinks Tamara Littleton, founder of media agency, The Social Element. She wants more firms that work with or fund home-based entrepreneurs to offer more support, whether through networking or mentorship.

Chalmers sees room for an app that connects start-ups with each other and professionals. “Finding a lawyer or marketing expert is tricky when you don’t have a network around you.”

Littleton also wants industry and the Government “to shine more of a spotlight” on the sector and “open up” the conversation around mental health to raise awareness of the issues.

Poppy, who took part in the study, still recommends running a business from home; it’s convenient, cheap and she can work when she’s most productive. “I’m a night owl and get most done in the evening.”

Littleton, who runs her 250-employee strong business from home three days a week, says to keep an eye on the clock. “Avoid working for long periods without a break.” She found the “Pomodoro” technique, which breaks work down into short intervals, particularly effective. 

She also says to invest in good kit, such as a large monitor and a quality chair.

Hitchcock, who suffered “terrible” back problems from working at home, agrees. “The sofa is not your friend.”


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