It wasn’t too long ago that if you committed to being an investor, the first two things you did were get business cards printed and look for an office space. Without the legitimacy of an office, you would have a difficult time being taken seriously by fellow investors and potential contacts. Well, times have certainly changed in just a few short years. No longer is it essential to have an office with your name on the door. In fact, most investors work either out of a home office or invest while still working full time. In 2014, it is easier than ever to start and maintain a business all from the comforts of your own home.
The way technology has improved and the real estate business has changed, it is very easy to work from home. With smartphones, tablets and other portable devices, you can get work done from wherever you are without skipping a beat. Just because working from home or on the road is possible, doesn’t mean it is easy. It takes a disciplined individual to fight the many temptations that working from a home office present. Not having a boss yelling in your ear to get on the phone reduces the urgency for getting work done. Sure, you are motivated by your own success, but working from home can either be the best or the worst thing to happen to an investor.
The best way to combat the inevitable doldrums and down time is to treat your work day like an office day. Instead of driving into an office, you can make the walk down your stairs and down your hall. Wherever you set up shop, get to work promptly, just as you would if you had to punch in. If you can set up a schedule of when you want to accomplish tasks and what you want to get out of you day, it will help you be more focused. Of course things can come up, but if you have a plan it will keep you on the straight and narrow.
With a plan, you also need to reduce your distractions. If you have a TV where you work, turn it off or turn the volume all the way down. Working from home should be more relaxed than working in an office, but it still is work. It is easy to fool yourself that you had a productive day if you got some small tasks accomplished. If you find your home office getting monotonous, switch things up by either taking your laptop outside, going to a coffee shop or getting out on the road once a week. You don’t have to be chained to your desk to be efficient, but you do need to get work done. When nobody is pushing you to work, you need to be self-motivated and stick with your business plan.
Even though you don’t have an office, you need to stay in touch with the outside world. You can do this through networking meetings and investment clubs. By not having the ability to share stories at an office, it is a good way to keep your finger on the pulse of the business and gain new contacts. There are some days when you won’t need to get out of your pajamas to have an effective day working from your house, but it is also easy to get too comfortable and reliant on technology. The best networking is still done face to face and you can’t become lazy and think these meetings are not important. It is nice to show your face every now and then to the business community.
If you are going to treat your office as part of your business, you need to make sure you document all of your expenses. One of the benefits of working from home are the write offs you can use from your business. When you have a home office, the lines can get blurred as to what is a business expense and what is a household expense. The more receipts and notes you can keep with any expenses you make throughout the year, the easier it will be for you come tax time. If you are going to work from home, you might as well reap the accounting rewards.
Working from home can be great, but it also can produce added stress in the form of increased health insurance costs, higher workload and difficulty concentrating. You are the CEO, as well as the janitor, secretary and marketing expert of your business. With the increased work and the increase in insurance costs, it is also important to remember that you are working from home because you are not paying for an office. Depending on your location, this savings can be anywhere from hundreds to thousands every month. You should think of this on days where you can be a little board and are looking to walk down to the cafeteria to talk to someone that you won’t be writing a rent check at the end of the month.
Working from home is slowly becoming the norm, rather than the exception. This can either be a great situation for the right investor or the freedom could lead to laziness and inactivity. If you treat your home office as you would a traditional office, you can learn to get your work done and not have to worry about a commute home or sending the rent check in every month.