Working from home can seem like an easy option, but the truth is, it requires determination and focus to even get started. There can be so many distractions and it is easy to waste a lot of time.

Starting out can be the biggest decision of all. Make a list of your particular skills, maybe look at old CV’s and outline your skills and training. Then identify which of these skills you want to use in your new role. Some people use this time as an opportunity to start something completely different, so it is important to be clear as to where you would like your new business to take you, which particular business sector interests you.

Have you identified a niche into which you would comfortably fit? Some people decide to have a personality profile/ skills assessment done. It can be an effective way to identify which career or business would be best suited to you and your temperament and personality.

I always advise ‘start as you mean to go on’. This involves getting up at a reasonable time, showering, getting dressed neatly and having a plan of what needs to be accomplished each day. Try to have a designated work area, an office space, in which you have invested time and money making comfortable and professional. This helps focus the mind. It keeps you on track, keeps you feeling positive about what you are doing. You need to make it work for you.

What are the considerations that you need to take into account with your new business? For many people earning money is a very important factor. For others it might be job satisfaction. Some people have health issues to consider, whilst for others it may well be school hours and holidays because of family commitments. Some people find that, at the beginning especially, working with another person can provide important support and backing, particularly if there is a clear synergy between both businesses.

Then there is the funding to consider. Even a small business needs some equipment, a computer, work area, office chair, filing cabinet, stationery like promotional leaflets and business cards. It is important to present yourself to potential clients as a serious contender for each job. Some start up businesses can get financial support by way of grants or business loans and this option is worth investigating. This route usually requires putting together a serious business plan. Business advisers and accountants can be helpful at this time in helping you to really focus the mind on your goals and target market.

Check out any competitors and see what they are offering by way of special extras, discounts, promotions. See if you want to follow suit to introduce yourself to your market. Conferences, network meetings, trade fairs, business training courses are a good way to introduce yourself to others, especially at the outset. Once you have your first client you can really start to take yourself seriously!

Schedule each day. Telephone calls and mail shots are a good way of introducing yourself to people. Posters in offices and leisure centres can work well too. Introductory talks and demonstrations can be good practice for you, as a way to formulate your thoughts, learn to answer questions and gain confidence in yourself and your business. They are also an effective way of meeting as many people as possible at one time. Network meetings work for many people and can be a good way of contacting similar businesses with whom you could form alliances and work together, each providing a complementary service.

Do not forget to ensure that you have free time to do fun things on a regular basis. Have coffee breaks and meal breaks each day. Aim to finish at a certain time, then close the office door and put the phone onto answer phone and switch off from work. This is an important part of having a home based business. The ability to manage your own diary.