Are you an independent-minded worker? Do you dream of taking control of your career and forging your own path? Working from home may be an ideal solution to your career goals. It’s not an easy path to follow if you lack the proper mindset for working from home. These basic notes will help you approach the challenges this sort of work presents.

Build A Wall Between Your Work And Home Life

One of the biggest attractions of working from home is the flexibility it gives you to switch from professional concerns to personal ones whenever you need to. This flexibility can be a double-edged sword! Mix up the balance and you could find yourself harried and exhausted at the end of a day that has included plenty of chores and distractions but no productive work.

When you work at home, you have to take full responsibility for putting in the hours your career demands. The best way to do this is to create habits and conditions that remind you to be professional when you are working. Setting aside a space exclusively dedicated to your job is a great idea, as well as scheduling your working hours in advance. Establish boundaries that protect your personal life, too. Set fixed hours when you are not going to work and not responding to calls and emails and be sure to stick with them.

Don’t Stay In A Shell

When your home is also your office, you lose out on the benefits of having co-workers. This might sound terrific if you found your last job full of distracting and irritating individuals, but the truth is a certain amount of professional stimulation and “buzz” from social interaction is an important part of your working life. You will need to take the initiative in finding that stimulation when you run a home business.

Reach out to other independent workers in your line of work or in your community. Join groups dedicated to the special concerns of those who work at home. This can be done both online and in person, and by pursuing both avenues, you can build up a terrific network of professional contacts to give you the feedback, advice, and sympathy you need to stay motivated and productive.

Keep Yourself Inspired

Another significant challenge of working from the home is keeping your skill set sharp. Once again, you have to exercise responsibility and carve out a dedicated portion of your schedule to nurturing your professional gifts. Keep in mind that motivating yourself is part of this effort!

Take full advantage of the many resources the internet provides for people with an entrepreneurial mindset. You’ll find plenty of motivational material, professional organizations, and skill-building seminars and courses online. Look for real-world opportunities as well and forge contacts with other local members of your industry. You never know where you are going to pick up the next bit of inspiration or the new skill you need to excel in your work.

This is merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to keeping your head in the right place for working from home. The general advice presented here should serve you well no matter what sort of work you’re doing, but you can easily dig further and find more specific help for your profession online. Maintaining a healthy mindset is vital if you wish to grasp all the opportunities available to you when you work out of your home.

Waverly J. Hanson is a licensed professional counselor, licensed marriage coach, military and family life consultant, professional trainer and author of How to Divorce-Proof Your Marriage. She has more than 25 years of experience helping individuals and couples improve their lives. To learn more about her effective methods, visit PersonalDevelopmentGoals.mywebpal.com.

laptop-on-tableHome-based businesses truly are a blast – you get to be something most people only dream about – your own boss. However, if it was that simple, no one would ever have a 9-to-5 job, so before getting the big idea of starting a home-based business out of the blue, you have to keep a couple of things in mind. The list that follows outlines these things for your convenience, so if you’re looking to get into the type of business in question, you should definitely read on.

Legalities

Neighborhoods and municipalities differ in many terms and the legal stuff is definitely one of these. While some are extremely beneficial for a home-based business, others frown upon this field of work. To make things even more complicated, there are some municipalities that require special permits and licenses, so making sure that you properly check the legal stuff with authorities is of essence – having your dreams end up a shipwreck isn’t the worst thing that might happen, you might also experience financial loss, owing to the fact that you didn’t properly check everything.

Company Structure

Do you want to be a limited company, business partnership, or a sole trader? This question should arise at the very top of your list. Technicalities such as paperwork depend a lot on the choice you make. More questions are outlined in terms of taxes you pay, how you take profit, as well as what occurs if and when you go through financial loss.

Company Name

It might seem trivial, but the company name you choose will greatly impact your customer base. If it’s a catchy name, people will talk about your home business more, which is a form of marketing that’s free of charge and, thus, something you definitely want for your business. Do you want your name to display what you do and stand for, or do you want it to be more abstract? You can find answers to this question right inside the product and/or service you’re pitching. On another note, choosing the company name early in the game is vital, so as to make sure that the one you’ve come up with isn’t already taken, which can easily lead to unnecessary complications.

Security

One of the downsides to a home-based business is outlined in the fact that you can’t really hire a security team – you don’t want armed personnel roaming around your house and backyard, with your children around, now do you? This is why it is vital for you, as a home-based entrepreneur to opt for proper security measures, physical and virtual alike. When it comes to online safety, a quality cloud service can go a long way in protecting your personal data. Installing cameras, however, will definitely cover your physical safety, but won’t protect your hard-copied documents from theft. This is why safes from Buy a Safe are so popular – even though we live in a progressive, virtual era, some businessmen still feel safer if they can physically touch their valuable data.

Start-up Strategy

Face it, it is extremely difficult to get a home-based business going nowadays, without stepping into the fast waters of the world of start-ups. It is the role of your business plan to outline the strategy you’re going to go for and your strategy will, in turn, help you determine the company structure, mentioned before. Researching the competition, of course, goes without saying.

Although home-based business tend to sound dreamy, and although the successful ones truly end up this way, there’s a lot of consideration that should be done beforehand. Analyze this guide thoroughly, stick to it, but don’t refrain from doing a bit of your own research – there is never enough information.

organized-officeIf you currently work from home, then you’re already aware of the many benefits of not having to leave your house to go to work. You can sleep in a little later, work in a comfortable environment and not have to waste gas money to commute to the office. Life is great!

But then something horrible happens. You realize you aren’t productive when working in your home office.

Why could that be? The answer amounts to one word: distractions — and they are abundant at home. The TV might be blaring in the other room. The family might be around, and you might be one click away from wasting half of your day on Facebook. This is common since there is no one over your shoulder watching your every move.

Never fear, though. Distractions can be reduced. Here are five home hacks to increase your productivity:

1. Dress for Success

How many times have you rolled out of bed, made your coffee and “gone to work” without ever changing out of your pajamas?

One of the perks of working from home is you can dress however you like. However, working in your pajamas might make you less productive. Numerous studies have shown that people work more efficiently when they’re dressed professionally. This includes people who work from home.

So before you sit down at that desk, try changing out of your pajamas and into a nice dress shirt and pants!

2. Use a Timer

Listen up, procrastinators!

Use a timer at home to make sure you stay on track with whatever you’re working on. If you’re working in a space that’s close to the kitchen, use the microwave or kitchen timer. If you can’t hear the kitchen timer, then use the timer on your phone or go out and buy an old-fashioned stop watch.

Set the timer for thirty minutes, and don’t stop working until it goes off. Take a short break after it does go off, and then get right back to work.

3. No Electronics in Your Office

If you work from home, you probably work on your computer, so no electronics is a little bit of a stretch. You can try to limit the number of electronics in your office, however.

There is absolutely no reason why you should have a TV in your office. It will only act as a distraction, and you won’t get anything done. Also make sure your phone isn’t in the office unless you absolutely need it for work or emergencies. Put it on airplane mode or turn it off if it becomes too distracting.

4. Organize Your Home Office

Your home office should be your sanctuary. Make sure it’s organized and conducive to a work environment.

For instance, there should be no clutter in your office. You can get overwhelmed by the amount of random things lying around, and you won’t be as concentrated on your work. Make sure there are cabinets and shelves you can store things in so your desk and floor are as clear as possible.

Your office should also look like an office — your desk should be an office desk and your chair should be comfortable. A quick search on Craigslist and eBay shows you can get these things for relatively cheap.

It’s important that your office feels like a distinct part of your home. You probably won’t get much accomplished if you’re working from your kitchen counter.

5. Prepare the Night Before

Use the night before to prepare for the following day.

The morning is typically the most productive time of the day. However, it’s easy to get distracted in the morning with annoying tasks like figuring out what to wear, what to eat for breakfast and how you’re going to spend your evening.

Use the night before to get ahead on all of these tasks so you can use the morning time to get to work. Pick out and iron your clothes, leave your breakfast out so you can easily make it and plan the rest of your day.

You’ll also sleep better when you aren’t worried about what you’re going to do the next day —and good sleep makes us all more productive.

Work Is Still Work

Working from home can be a great way to be employed, but it can be very easy to get distracted as well. Productivity is important to success, but it’s also important to keep balance at work as well. Just like any piece of equipment, if you overload yourself, you can end up setting yourself back and actually lose productivity if you push yourself beyond your limits.

Keep these tips in mind, though, and remember that work is still work. You’ll be able to increase your productivity — no matter where you’re working from.

Megan Wild honed her productivity skills at a young age and now wants to help people do more with less time. You can check out some of her tips on her blog, Your Wild Home.

coffee-mug-laptop-deskWorking from home can be a rewarding opportunity. That is, if you’ve already found a work-at-home job. If you haven’t, it can be a tricky, but worthwhile endeavor; finding the job can be a job in itself, especially if you don’t know where to look.

Don’t worry though. From setting up your personal office to acquiring a job, here are the basics of working from home, so you can get started toward a lucrative career all without having to commute to work every morning.

Step 1: Preparing For Your Search

Because there are a lot of online scams floating around that are related to working at home, it’s best that you first protect your computer before you set out on your job search. Besides an anti-virus program, I would suggest that you install a VPN. VPN stands for Virtual Private Network, and what it does is anonymize your internet traffic.

When your internet traffic is encrypted with a VPN, it’s highly unlikely that any scammers will get into your personal information. This is because an encryption is a tough code to crack, and it takes both a powerful machine and patience; cracking these codes doesn’t happen overnight. The average hacker isn’t going to bother going through all the trouble when they can just move on to the next person’s PC that’s likely to be unsecured.

Click here to read more about VPNs, as well as find out how to choose one.

Step 2: Find the Job(s)

Now that you have your PC protected, onto the job search! The easiest and most effective way to find an online job is to search freelance websites such as Upwork or Guru. Though there is lots of competition on freelance websites, you are sure to find a job eventually as long as you keep your profile updated and also search and apply to job listings regularly.

Though freelance work typically brings to mind the word “temporary,” some employers on freelance websites are actually interested in hiring long term. The key to being successful on these highly competitive websites is to stay motivated. Most importantly, search for and apply to multiple jobs, and pay attention to how old the job listing is; you have a better chance of being hired if you apply to the job within the first half hour of it being posted.

Besides staying on top of the job listings, remember to sync your email account with your smartphone, so you will know when potential employers message you about any jobs you might have applied to. If you set up your profile with information about your skills and experience, you might even find that an employer will send you an invitation to interview, even if you haven’t previously applied for their job listing; freelance websites make it easy for employers to search for candidates based on their skills, making it a worthwhile experience for those who are seeking work-at-home opportunities.

As with any work-at-home job listings, be on the lookout for scams. Not every job or site is legitimate; so keep that in mind when you’re on your job hunt, and never reveal your banking information to those you meet online.

If freelance sites aren’t your thing, this Forbes article should lead you in the right direction. Of course, there’s also the option of starting up a business of your own too!

Step 3: Setting Up a Home Office

cat-on-deskHave you ever tried to work from home with a cat around? If so, you know the importance of setting up a home office. Not only will it lessen any background noise, but it’ll also keep Fluffy from taking a paw to your keyboard.

Depending on the type of work you’ll be doing, I would recommend that you invest in an L-shaped desk. When you’re using an L-shaped desk, it’s easier to have all of your tools and devices in one place so you won’t have to wander around the room in order to complete different tasks. Since you’re most likely going to need a printer/scanner combo, computer, and possibly even a landline phone, you’ll find that the L-shaped desk is the best way to go.

Another important piece of furniture for your home office is the chair you’ll be sitting in. There are many different types of office chairs to choose from, and depending on your stature, you might prefer one type over the other. Whichever type of office chair you choose, check for the seal of approval from the American Chiropractic Association.

Some stores will have this information in clear view when you’re shopping for your office chair, and if they don’t, an employee should be able to tell you or check the box for you. It’s important that you purchase a chair that is approved by the ACA because it’s likely that you’ll be spending a lot of time in it if you plan to work from home.

Step 4: Take a Look at Your PC

You are going to want to check your computer to ensure that all of your software is up to date. This will prevent your device from being vulnerable to hackers because the older the software you are the using, the more likely it is that hackers have figured out a way to gain access to it and spread viruses to its users. Besides keeping your software updated, it’s also important that you keep your hardware updated as well.

You’re going to need a machine that will be able to keep up with your digital tasks. While it’s not always necessary to be running the latest operating system, it would be a good idea to have a computer that is no more than 5 years old, if possible. The main thing you want to ensure is that your computer can run at a speed that is necessary in order to complete your job(s).

For more help on this, check with your local computer repairman; any store that sells computers should be able to help as well, though this isn’t a guarantee! Stores that specialize in electronics, such as Best Buy, would be a good place to start if you cannot locate a dedicated computer store.

Another tip as far as computers go is to backup all of your data onto a flash drive or external hard drive. Even with them backed up on one of these devices, you should always keep a copy of your files on an extra computer as well. The reason for this is because external hard drives can sometimes become corrupted and fail, so make sure you have more than one copy of your files saved on multiple devices; if your computer ever crashes (though it shouldn’t if you stick to using a VPN), you’ll be happy that you do!

Step 5: Get To Work!

Now for the fun part: getting to work! If you haven’t picked up a job yet, finding a job will be your job for now. Stay motivated, and don’t get discouraged if you don’t get hired immediately. Working at home takes determination on your part in order to become successful.

Nothing gets a morning sickness-riddled tummy churning like a hot bus crowded with people–particularly the guy who’s breathing in your direction with garlic on his breath. As you fight back the urge to vomit, you can’t help but wonder what the heck he ate for breakfast.

The thought of enduring nine months of beastly bus rides is enough to dampen even the most soaring of spirits. But, you need the income and have no choice. Or do you? What if you could stay home and make money doing it?

pregnant-at-homeYes, you could kiss that cursed commute goodbye and launch your very own home-based business.

Find Your Fit

The first thing you will need to do is determine what type of home-based business fits your skill sets, your interests, and the amount of time that you wish to work each day. Do you want to continue in your current field or are you hoping to try something new? Once you have determined what skills, interests, or passions you’d like to use in your at-home career, you are ready to move on to the next step–finding an at-home business that will allow you to do exactly that.

Thankfully, there seems to be a home-based business idea to match practically every skill set or interest one could possibly imagine. Just a few of these potential paths include bookkeeping, daycare, medical billing, tech support, writing, direct sales, esthetics, teaching music, graphic or web design, data entry, or serving as a virtual assistant. You could even choose to start your own online business.

Set Your Schedule

The nice thing about working for yourself is that you have greater control over when you work, how long you work, and how much you work. Is morning sickness still causing you to spend most of your mornings praying to the gods of porcelain? No worries. You can conduct your business later in the day. As an added bonus, after your child is born, you can work around nap times and feedings, enabling you to better balance motherhood and your career.

Added Savings

If switching to a home-based business requires you to take a salary-cut, there are savings that you must bear in mind. Working from the comfort of your humble abode means you will no longer have to spend money on dressy clothing, commuting to and fro, and buying lunches out. Plus, you will likely also be eligible for tax deductions related to your home-based enterprise. And, as “Work At Home Opportunities When You’re Pregnant or a New Mom” offers, all you will require for most home businesses is a “halfway-decent computer, a smartphone, and a business-specific voicemail account.”

A Viable Solution

If you are a single mom who can’t afford daycare or you are struggling with your ability to financially provide for your child, working from home may prove a viable solution. As “Should I Keep My Baby?,” warns, financial difficulties are frequently temporary and if you are thinking of putting your baby up for adoption simply because of money issues right now, adoption may not be right for you. A work-at-home career may solve both your childcare and financial needs.

Watch Out for Scams

When looking for an at-home or telecommuting job, keep an eye out for scams. According to Forbes‘ “Become a Work-At-Home Mom,” avoid listings that promise easy money for easy work, don’t have the hiring company’s name identified, use public email domains such as hotmail, gmail, or anonymous Craig’s List accounts, or overuse exclamation marks or dollar signs. Don’t fall for any ad that promises you wads of cash or asks you to fork over money in exchange for a starter kit or marketing materials. And, if they don’t pay you on time, cut your losses and discontinue providing services for them.

200319596-001Yes, you can put an end to commutes from hell and remain in the comfort of your own home–while making money. By starting your own home-based business, you can take back control of your life and make Mr. Chronic Halitosis someone else’s problem.

Having difficulties deciding what at-home business best suits your personality type? Check out “How to Find the Best Opportunity for Your Personality” and begin a journey of self-exploration.

Kimberley Laws is a freelance writer, avid blogger and Certified Career Counselor who loves being her own boss as she is very easy to work for. You can follow her at The Embiggens Project.

Images courtesy of Thinkstock.com.

If you have a home business, it’s probably a foregone conclusion that you want to save money any way that you can, while still providing a top-notch product or service. The trick is to keep your overheard low by finding the best tools for the lowest price possible.

Well, as it turns out, the lowest price possible is called “free”, and what you’re about to see here are six awesome free Chrome extensions that are an indispensable part of any home business’ toolbox. Once you’re done enjoying these, check out more in the article “7 Killer Google Chrome Extensions for Your Business”.

woman-at-desk
It never hurts to have a few free advantages to help bolster your home business

Stay Focused

When you work at home, there’s no boss looking over your shoulder (especially if you ARE the boss!). So it’s easy to innocently look up some item on the Internet, then get intrigued by a link in the article, which you click on, then follow another, and so on. Soon, that five minutes you were planning on spending looking up demographics in New England turns into two hours, and you end up staring at a selection of Azerbaijani pickle recipes.

Wasting time is detrimental to the home businessperson. Stay Focused helps cut your web time wasting habits by putting a cap on sites that you choose to limit your time checking out. Come up with your list, set the times you can spend on them, and you’re good to go. Call it an intervention, Chrome-style.

Yast

Do you charge clients by the hour? If so, this extension is for you. It helps you generate time sheets that you can imbed with comments, as well as color code. Don’t shortchange yourself anymore, while in turn showing your clients where the time went.

Google Calendar Checker

If you run a one-person business out of your home, then that means you’re the boss, the worker drone, the CFO, and the administrative assistant all rolled into one. In the latter case, that means keeping track of your appointments, where a missed meeting could adversely hurt your freelancer reputation. This app actually counts down the time until your next appointment, displaying it in your browser’s corner.

Full Contact

No, this isn’t a football app. Just set up your new account at fullcontact.com, install the extension that lets it access your Google account, and it will keep all of your contact lists synched with Google. Having your address book cleaned up and synched means fewer headaches down the road.

Xmarks Bookmark Sync

Although this article is geared specifically to Chrome users, many of us find ourselves sometimes using more than one browser, right? This extension actually synchs your bookmarks, passwords, user settings, and tabs among all of the browsers you use (e.g. Explorer, Safari, Firefox), whether they’re all on one computer or on several systems. Anyone who has had to juggle multiple browsers and try to remember what settings each has will find this extension invaluable, not to mention sanity-saving.

Mighty Text

So we’ve already helped people who need to keep multiple browsers organized, but what about something for the home business professionals who have multiple devices, like, for instance, a laptop and an Android smart phone? How about a goodie for them? Mighty Text helps you during those times when you’re working at your laptop, desktop, or tablet, when suddenly a text comes through on your smart phone, wherever the blasted thing ended up. With Mighty Text, all of your Android’s text messages, both the ones sent and received, show up in Chrome. The app synchs not only those messages, it also handles videos and images as well. Finally, if that phone’s battery is getting low, you’ll be notified about that as well.

Running a home business means having every advantage you can get your hands on. The above six are a good place to start. If you want some more tips on working from home, especially if Stay Focused was of particular interest to you, then check out “Working Smarter: How to Utilize Your Time Online When You Work From Home”.

John Terra has been a freelance writer since 1985. He admits to getting side-tracked during web searches way more often than he should.

It may not have a splashy storefront, an eye-catching neon sign, or a gaggle of go-getting employees, but your home-based business doesn’t need any of those things to thrive. After all, it offers top-notch products and services, provides excellent customer care, and, most importantly, it has you–the most dedicated and hard-working employee your business will ever have. And you will do anything to help your home business–your baby–achieve its full potential.

home business If you are eager to take your home business to the next level, here are a few easy and cost-effective ways to get started.

A Professional Web Site

While bricks and mortar stores have stunning signage and window displays to welcome their customers, you can become equally “present” by creating a professional website. A well-designed site will enable you to develop a brand image, showcase your products and services, make it easy for customers to contact you, and provide links to your blog or social media platforms.

And, as Entrepreneur‘s “10 Ways to Grow Your Home-Based Business” adds, creating a web site no longer involves a huge outlay of cash as do-it-yourself sites are now available for less than $30 per month with no technical knowledge required.

A Social Media Presence

If you wish to build your customer base, you will need to hit the hot spots where the people are hanging out–and, the hottest spots around are popular social media platforms. And, as an added bonus, they are free.

The hottest spot of all is Facebook with Twitter placing second, but depending on the type of business you are in, you may want to tap into some of the other platforms as well. If you offer a professional service or a largely B2B enterprise, you may wish to consider LinkedIn. If your business lends itself to visuals, you will want to operate a Pinterest account. Familiarize yourself with the different social media venues available and choose the ones that suit your business best.

And, remember, as Insightly’s “Like Bears to Honey: Find that Sweet Social Media Spot for Your Audience” warns, “the end game here should not be to make direct sales, but rather to create long time customers who keep coming back for more because they know they can trust you.”

A Platform for your Prowess

One great way to build brand loyalty and win the trust–and business–of your customers is to establish yourself as an authority in your industry. And there are several ways to do this.

One effective method involves creating a blog that is designed to discuss industry matters, educate consumers, and, of course, entertain your audience. WordPress, for example, offers an easy-to-use platform that even the blogging beginner can master without difficulty.

You may wish to conduct a seminar in person or strut your stuff on a YouTube video. And, as “10 Marketing Tools for Home-Based Businesses” suggests, offering to speak for local organizations, trade associations, or other gatherings will help you reach a wider audience.

A Thirst for Knowledge

One great way to grow your business is to grow your mind. The more you learn about your industry and the world of business in general, the better equipped you will be to defeat the competition and take your company to the next level.

Connect with industry experts through LinkedIn. Invite them to compose guest posts for your blog. And join industry organizations. If you’d like to learn business techniques, take a course at your local college, join the Chamber of Commerce to meet other business people, and embrace mastering new technologies.

man-on-laptop

Who needs a splashy storefront to attract customers? Certainly not you. By following a few easy steps, you can transform your humble home-based business into a force to be reckoned with.

If you need help accomplishing the first step–setting up your website– you may want to check out “The Do’s and Don’ts of Launching a Website for Your Home Business.”

Kimberley Laws is a freelance writer and avid blogger who operates her own home business. You can follow her at The Embiggens Project.

Images courtesy of Thinkstock.com

hand-holding-plantGoing green can seem like an overwhelming project for smaller businesses without a lot of capital or infrastructure. But just because you work out of your house, whether in a spare room, on your laptop at your kitchen table, or even in a hammock out in your backyard, it doesn’t mean you can’t contribute to making our world more environmentally friendly by thinking about energy efficiency. In fact, you can kill two birds with one stone by improving your living space and workspace at the same time!

One good place to look for tips on saving energy is your local power company. The U.S. Department of Energy also offers a variety of hints as to how to cut down on waste, from the obvious, like turning off machines when they are not in use, to the more technical, including what types of electronics to buy and how to avoid “vampire” power drains.

Here are some particularly popular tips for creating savings, both personally and for the environment:

Turn Things Off When You’re Not Using Them!

There are a few popular misconceptions that make it harder for people to save energy in their home offices. For example, it is actually not true that screensavers reduce energy usage or that it is better to leave equipment running than to keep turning it on and off. The simplest way to reduce energy costs and waste is simply to turn things off when you aren’t using them, especially computers, televisions, stereos and DVD players, not to mention overhead lights and table or counter lamps!

Avoid Vampire Drain!

However, with some appliances, even turning them off when not in use is not necessarily enough. Many people are unaware that even when electronics are switched off, they can continue to use energy – this is known as a “vampire” power drain. Chris Stewart, the Senior Communicator for the DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory points out here that appliances “using phantom loads” include many that most of us might not consider, from coffee makers to rechargeable toothbrushes!

There are a few ways to avoid this. The simplest is to actually unplug appliances from the wall instead of merely turning them off, especially chargers for other devices. Another is to plug all such equipment into power strips and then to turn off the power strip in order to truly cut off the power when the equipment is not in use. This is especially helpful when it comes to larger devices like computers and televisions, but also applies to smaller ones like kitchen appliances.

Make Good Choices When Making Purchases

In addition, to reduce your overall energy usage, make good environmentally conscious choices when making purchases in the first place. For example, laptops use less energy than desktop computers. In addition, when buying smaller products that use battery power, look for those that will take rechargeable batteries, so that you don’t have to keep buying and disposing of regular batteries.

Additionally, look for the ENERGY STAR label, especially when buying computers, in order to create great savings on your power bill. This label is certified by the Environmental Protection Agency and means that the products both save energy and money. An index of Energy Star products can be found here (for homes) and here (for businesses).

Use Good Common Sense

There are so many small steps it is possible to take in order to be energy-efficient. For example, lighting is a huge expense in most homes, especially when the owner works there as well. Buy energy-efficient light bulbs and place directional lamps where they are needed, instead of keeping the overhead lights burning morning, noon and night.

You can also weatherize your home office, getting an inspection by your local power company and adding insulation where needed, in order to keep energy from escaping. Being conscientious about maintenance can also help you avoid costly repairs to heating or cooling equipment. Even something as small as turning down the heat by a couple of degrees in the winter and turning down the air by a couple of degrees in summer can result in big savings.

What steps do you plan to take to improve your home office’s energy efficiency?

Garret Stembridge is part of the team at Extra Space Storage, a leading provider of self-storage facilities. Garret often writes about sustainable practices for homes and for businesses. Many Extra Space Storage locations, including several in Chicago, have been retrofitted to reduce energy consumption.

Surely you’ve heard the old saying, “Knowledge is power.” There is a lot of truth to that statement. Without the knowledge you currently possess, you would not have been able to start the work-at-home business, whatever field it is in, of which you are so proud. Heck, you wouldn’t be able to have achieved most of the things you have thus far.

The funny thing about humans is that we are constantly evolving. Who you are now is likely a lot different than who you were 15, 10, or even just five years ago. And who you will be a few years down the line could be a whole lot different than the person you are today. This is largely due to our ability to learn.

We learn new things as we get older, which we can apply to our lives and use in a positive way. This is particularly true of your work. You learn a lot about your business along the way, which you can certainly use to advance your business’s success.

school Image Courtesy of We Heart It

With that in mind, if you are the proprietor of your own home-based business, you may be wondering if there is a way you can take it to the next level. The answer is: Yes, you can – by going back to school.

Going Back to School Can Advance Your Business

Perhaps you already have a degree related to the field in which your home-based business is. Maybe your home-based business is based on something you have a lot of passion about and practical experience with, but you don’t have a professional degree in the field. Either way, even if your business is a success, you certainly take it to the next level by going back to school.

Let’s use the example of a freelance writer to illustrate the powerful effect that more schooling can have on the success of a home-based business. You got into the freelance writing industry because you are passionate about writing. You love using words to educate and inspire, or you enjoy using words to craft stories for other people. You took your love for words, created a freelance writing business, and you’ve enjoyed a great amount of success.

The thing of it is, though…you don’t have any formal training. You don’t have a degree in journalism, English, or any other related field. In fact, your degree is in something that isn’t even related to writing – or you never even went to school.

Now, imagine what would happen if you went back to school to take a few classes in English or to earn a degree in journalism. You would be able to learn a whole new set of skills, such as different writing styles, proper sentence structure (so that’s how you use a colon!), and even different citation styles. You could take your new-found knowledge and apply it to your freelance writing business. Imagine how many more doors would open up to you.

The same can be said for any other industry. Whether you have a home-based accounting, crafting, event planning, or even daycare business, a little extra knowledge could afford you the opportunity to advance your business to new levels of success.

business Image Courtesy of We Heart It

Juggling Life and School

Does going back to school to advance your home-based career sound appealing to you, but you don’t know how you can manage doing so with everything else you have to juggle? Thanks to the advent of modern technology, taking classes and earning a degree has gotten a whole lot easier for busy adults. There are dozens of fully accredited colleges that offer online degree programs. With this option, you would be able to take classes when they are convenient while still gaining the knowledge you need to boost your business’s success.

Even if you thought your days of studying were long gone, going back to school may very well be worth your while. You might be pleasantly surprised to discover how much knowledge you can acquire and apply to your business.

Bridget Galbreath is a former teacher turned freelance writer. She enjoys using words to share the benefits of an education, such as acquiring careers with business degrees.