Home-based business owners have got it made, right? There’s no clock to punch, no boss peeking around the corner and no early Monday morning meetings to attend. But with these perks comes a pitfall-solitude.
It’s not unusual for many home-based business owners to feel isolated. In many cases, it’s just you and your computer. But working from home doesn’t mean you have to be home alone. There are many ways you can stay connected to the outside world. Here are five ways you can break the silence.
- Hold meetings outside your office. While the telephone is an important tool for the home-based entrepreneur, it doesn’t have to become your sole means of communicating. Instead of making conference calls, discuss business over a meal.
- Attend trade shows and business conferences. Conventions provide networking opportunities, increase your visibility in the business community, create awareness of your products/services and keep you abreast of current events in your industry. Visit your local chamber of commerce for lists of upcoming events.
- Take a course. Enrolling in a business class or seminar at your local college can help sharpen your skills and provide the interaction you need to stay productive. You can take a class that relates to your work or one that simply breaks the monotony of your daily grind.
- Perform community service. Getting involved in neighborhood activities is good exposure for your business. In fact, it can serve as a great low-cost marketing tool and help you foster relationships with others interested in your field.
- Join a home-based business organization. You can develop relationships with other home-based entrepreneurs, share ideas and concerns and partner on projects, and gain access to discounts on products such as office supplies and equipment.
- Do your homework before joining an organization. Review the group’s membership package and newsletter. Obtain names of existing members and ask what they think of the association. If possible, visit the headquarters or branch nearest you to observe the facility. You may also want to check with your local Better Business Bureau to ensure that no complaints have been filed against the organization.
National Association of Home-Based Businesses (NAHBB)
10451 Mill Run Circle, Suite 400
Owings Mills, MD 21117
Services more than 200 classifications of home businesses and offers a handbook to guide you through the steps of setting up your home office.
Home Office Association of America (HOAA)
133 E. 58th St., Suite 711
New York, NY 10022
Provides services for the home-based business owner, including a monthly newsletter, Home Office Connections, and offers discounts on travel, long-distance phone service and hotel accommodations. Membership fee: $49; $79 for Canadian members; $100 for international members.
National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE)
P.O. Box 612067
Dallas, TX 75261-2067
Provides the latest news and trends concerning home-based firms and lobbies Washington for legislation benefiting the self-employed. Full membership fee: $72 per year; $25 application fee.