10/05/2010 12:32 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Work From Home Successfully

Want to work or run your business from home and like the idea of never having to go anywhere, work in your underwear, and do as you please with no one looking over your shoulder? Well, whether you are working for someone else from your home or running your own business from home, there are some things you must know to make a home-run business successful.

I have run multiple businesses from a home office for over 20 years. Each of these started out small and grew into something much larger. Each quite different, each requires a different focus and different levels of support. I started my first business when I was 29 from home only because I couldn't afford an office. In the beginning, I was everything from sales person, sales team, CEO, shipping, receptionist, bookkeeper, and boss. For almost three years I worked for less money than I ever had and put in double the hours.

I figured out how to make my home business successful and then was able to expand into multiple businesses with partners and employees. Still today I continue to operate a home office with support staff and partners working from traditional offices. With technology what it is today this is becoming more and more a possibility for the self-starter and self-disciplined. And those two traits will be required!

There are many benefits to working from home from getting more done, working all hours, reduced travel time, tax advantages, and cost savings but you should beware of the many pitfalls and traps.

Some of the problems with working from home are first the blur between work and personal life. Some find themselves unable to get focused on the business at hand and others unable to turn it off. I believe both of these responses are more about the individual than the location of the office. Also many people believe that they will have more freedom working from home and finally be their own boss. This I believe to be an unrealistic expectation.

If you aren't disciplined and a self-starter then working from home is a bad idea. But in this economy, (really any economy) self-discipline and personal motivation is critical no matter where you office. In the beginning, you probably will not have the support of a team and will be doing everything. Also many people run a home business that looks more like a home than a business that others will not take seriously and even you don't take yourself seriously. Here are some tips you may find beneficial to making your home business successful.

1. Define your spaces and separate work from home. Have a room dedicated for work. This room should not be mixed with family. Set aside a workspace that when you enter it, you are there to work. Your family needs to know this is your office not their home.

2. Set regular hours, and stick to the schedule. This is not a vacation because you are at home, it is work. Tell the kids, "I'm going to work, see you later." I added one hour to my schedule when I had my first child so I could spend it with my daughter and then each day I also have lunch with them. Then it's back to my office uninterrupted by family.

3. Prepare as you would any public job. Get dressed, get shaved/makeup and be presentable as a professional as you would in a public office.

4. Have a professional desk and chair. It doesn't have to be expensive but you need a place to work from that is professional.

5. Private phone number, computer, email address and social media addresses. Do not mix your communication terminals with personal activities. The tools you use to communicate must be professional and set apart from those you use for personal uses.

6. Avoid retreating to family on tough days. This kills people at home because it is easy to retreat into the comfort of your kids, the sofa, TV or refrigerator. It is called work, dig in on tough days and push through!

7. Wear the boss hat. You have to be able to manage yourself by being the boss of you that directs you on what is expected, what has to get accomplished and manage yourself accordingly.

8. Get a predictable start each day. I start with the one hour with my daughter, then exercise, breakfast, shower, get dressed and go straight to my office. When in my office I start by writing my long-term goals, then today's to do list and then start hammering away at it.

9. Keep statistics. If you don't keep statistics on yourself it will be very unlikely that you are able to create a successful business. I keep stats on everything; out bound calls, in bound calls, teleconferences, emails, articles written, and the likes so that I can see my activity growing each day. This is also the only way to rationally discover what is working and not working.

10. Use the office after your schedule. One of the advantages of a home office is you can use it more than you would an office away from home. Once I have spent time with my family, then I return to my office at all times during the night when I am inspired.

I predict over the next five years there will be an explosion in people working from home due to the massive numbers of unemployed that will last for years, combined with an aging population living longer and unable to retire and then aided by the technology development provided by the internet. Working from home is not for everyone but it does become a great option for the highly disciplined and self-motivated. There are tons of advantages of working from home but you remember that when you go to work from home, you still have to go to work to work!