Establishing your business from home can mean reduced start-up costs, greater flexibility, and a tailor-made work environment. Sounds perfect, right? But hold on, you’ll need to first consider the nature of your business, your needs, and your character to determine if a home-based model is for you. Start by asking yourself a few questions:

Will working from home suit your personality?
Sure, you can save on overhead costs and work in your PJs, but the work home environment is full of distractions. Are you focused enough to keep the TV off, let the laundry sit unfolded, turn down your neighbour’s invite for coffee? It takes real self-discipline to stay on track, especially during quiet business periods when some of the more mundane tasks should be attended to.

And ask yourself if the absence of colleagues will bother you. Some people flourish in a social work environment, some prefer solitude to concentrate.

Is your family supportive?
You may need to co-opt part of the house for your office or inventory. And while you’ll be more flexible to deal with ad hoc family matters, it won’t always be easy to explain why Mom’s not available to chauffeur or Dad can’t take a break to play Nintendo. You’ll need your family’s full cooperation for this model to succeed.

What physical environment will you require?
Where are you most productive? Personally, I need lots of natural light to do my best work. But you might prefer the isolation of a basement or the easy access of a garage. Is the space you need available in your home? If employees or clients are coming to your business, will you want them traipsing through your kitchen to get to the office?

Also, you may need room for equipment and inventory and might have particular power needs. If your home isn’t suitable, calculate how much it will cost to renovate.

Have you considered the legal, insurance and tax implications?
Do your municipal by-laws allow you to operate a business from your home? Usually it’s not a problem if there won’t be a lot of clients, suppliers or employees going in and out, but you probably won’t be able to operate heavy machinery, work with hazardous materials, or make noise. Check with your municipality.

Liability insurance is especially important if clients or employees will be entering your home. And if you have special equipment or inventory, you’ll need to add coverage to your homeowner or renter’s policy.

On the tax front, there’s good news. You’ll be able to deduct a portion of your property tax, mortgage or rent, utilities, repairs, and some other household expenses. But be sure to consult an accountant or experienced tax preparer to know what’s allowable.

Do you have access to good advice?
Lots of people start home businesses by simply getting a bright idea and giving it a try. But a successful home business is like any other, it benefits immeasurably from good advice. You will need a good plan and if you need help creating one, YES is one place that can help you out. They have coaches and workshops designed for business start-ups. See how they can help at www.yesmontreal.ca