Business operations

Challenges of running a business from home

Running a business from home can be wonderfully rewarding, but it has some unique challenges. Here are some of the most common challenges and some tips to help.

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Feeling isolated

The main challenge facing most home-based small businesspeople is the feeling of being isolated from the mainstream of business life. People used to busy offices can find it harder to retain motivation and work discipline.

Strategies to keep you motivated include:

  • Getting out of your home office – schedule face-to-face visits with customers and suppliers, or regular breaks to go for a walk and clear your head
  • Networking – join groups with shared interests, from your local Chamber of Commerce to professional associations
  • Getting a business mentor or confidante – talking through your business challenges and opportunities with someone else can bring valuable new perspectives. Simply approach someone you respect or check out organisations like Business Mentors New Zealand.

Dealing with interruptions

It's hard to stop children interrupting you at work, and it can also be hard when friends imagine they can pop in for a cup of coffee anytime. 

The key is communication. Explain to children that you need to be left alone at certain times to do your job. Make your office hours clear to your friends – and treat them more formally if they do pop in when you’re working.


Normal home and contents insurance policies may not cover equipment used for business purposes, so it’s worth checking with your insurer. 

Business growth

If your business is successful, you may reach the point where to grow it further you need to move out of your home office and into larger premises. It can be a difficult choice to make.

For many businesses, moving out of home can spark a real growth phase. Other people prefer to maintain the freedom that a home-based business offers. Ultimately, it comes down to being clear about what’s important to you.

Maintaining focus

When you go to the office every day and you’re surrounded by colleagues, it’s easier to stay focused on the job at hand than when your desk is just down the hall from your living room. There’s often the temptation to do those household chores or spend just a few more minutes scrolling on your phone.

The solution is to do exactly what you’d do if you were going out to work. Get up, get dressed (rather than hanging around in your pyjamas), and get to your home office at the same time you’d get to an external office. Invest in proper office furniture too, so you have a business-like environment to work in.

It all helps switch you into a work mindset and make a clear distinction between home and work.

Make a continuity plan

Make sure you have a plan in place for when something goes wrong – for example:

  • Your internet connection or website goes down
  • The power goes off
  • You forget a tax payment
  • You have an issue with an employee or contractor
  • Short-term cash flow problem. 

Whether your business is in the suburbs, city, rural, by the beach, or in a small town, all businesses should have a plan for how they’ll operate in the event of an emergency such as a major storm, flood, power cut, or earthquake.  

Managing risk in business

Risk is a part of business but with a good risk management plan you can determine not only what risks your business is exposed to but also what you want to do about it. This video will help you get started on identifying the potential risks to your business and your next steps.

Build a support network

Running a business can be a lonely endeavour, but it’s important to remember that you don’t have to do it alone.

The key is to build up a network of people you can call on when you need to – including a good accountant, lawyer, IT person, and business banker. These people can form part of your continuity plan and will be a source of support through good times and bad.

Reward yourself

Succeeding in a home business does take extra discipline and adaptation, but always remember you're part of a great tradition. After all, Apple – one of the world’s most valuable companies – started in a suburban garage.

So stay focused on your goal and don’t forget to reward yourself regularly for your achievements along the way.


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