I was talking to someone this afternoon who was telling me how much he enjoys working in the basement of his house: “No commute, easy to work whenever the spirit moves me, low overhead, zero dress code.”
Of the solo professionals I know, I’d say it’s about a 50/50 split between those who work at home and those who have an outside office.
Me, I’ve always had a separate office. Not far from my house (about 2 miles), but somewhere different. It just felt right. When I started my business, I had been commuting to work for nearly 20 years, and the idea of getting in my car and “going somewhere” was an important part of feeling productive. Plus, I had three kids under the age of seven at the time and there was no way I was getting anything done at home that didn’t involve somebody drooling on me.
At first, and with no clients and no income, I thought I couldn’t afford an office. My friend Jim, a long time solo professional at the time, set me straight: “Look,” he said, “even if you work at home, you’ll still need a computer, a separate phone line, a web site, a cell phone, health insurance, and lots of other things to be in business. If you can’t afford the $500 a month extra it costs you to have a separate office, you won’t be in business long anyway. Just create an environment in which you’re comfortable.”
Truer words were never spoken. There is no right answer… the important thing is to set yourself up to be as productive, comfortable and happy as possible, whether that means working at home in your pajamas or showing up at a more traditional office. Get that taken care of, and you’ll be well on your way to having all the clients (and money) you need.
While there are benefits to having an outside office, you miss out on some of the deductions you can take. Plus, the first thing I noticed when starting my business out of my home is that you can’t spend any money while you’re in your own house. Big savings there – fewer trips to the ATM.