By February 11, 2015 Read More →

5 tips for starting a work from home technology business

Work from home technology business - Joel BeverleyWith two colleagues Joel Beverley launched Rotacloud, the online rota software that saves management time and minimises staff shortages.

His guest post sums up the most important lessons he’s learnt over the last 18 months about starting a work from home technology business:

When going into the technology industry the natural place for most freelancers and small businesses is to start working from home.

Aside from the obvious benefits of keeping overheads down most tech startups have little need in the way of equipment or supplies other than a computer, phone and kettle (a mandatory requirement for our business).

Which means that when you are starting out at least, working from home is a no brainer.

After over a year of working from home on my own software business, I’ve picked up a few tricks along the road and learnt from a few mistakes as well.

5 tips for starting a work from home technology business:

1. Stay organised.

When starting a work from home technology company it may at first seem like everything will be kept nicely in that little folder on your desktop. Wrong! Whilst having a dedicated folder is a great start you will find that putting every single file in one folder is a recipe for disaster further down the line.

Use subfolders to categorise things, even when it seems like you are creating a folder for the sake of one file – you will appreciate it in a couple of months time.

Also, backup everything. Cloud storage is very cheap and easy to use. Google Drive lets you upload and store files online so you can access them anywhere and, if you work as part of a team, it’s a great way to share folders so you can all work remotely on the same thing at the same time.

Work from home technology business - keep notes

2. Plan ahead and keep notes.

Most technology businesses start with an idea, a piece of inspiration that can be highly motivating and exciting, and when it happens it can be hugely tempting to jump straight into the deep end and get to work.

Being passionate is great, but if you want to save yourself a whole lot of time later on, take a breath and plan meticulously.

Otherwise, at some point in the next few days, weeks or months you will hit a brick wall and have to retrace your steps and try to dissect where things went wrong and how you can fix them. Trust me, it is incredibly frustrating and easily avoidable if you have a bit of patience and think things through.

Similarly, as you start work thoughts and ideas will pop into your head all the time – write them down. I have made the mistake a number of times thinking that I will come back to it later, only to find that my memory is more porous than I thought it was.

A notepad is a good start, though paper notes can get lost and mixed up. Wunderlist is a free online to-do list which is great for sharing thoughts and idea and also adding reminders as well.

Alternatively, Basecamp is another great option if you operate as part of a team – it has comprehensive note and task assignment system which is brilliant for keeping teams that operate remotely organised.

3. Keep on top of your emails.

For technology businesses emails are the bees to their honey coated inbox. You will be inundated with messages from clients, social media, and the products and services you are using.

For starters, create a dedicated business email. Never use your own personal account, you do not want to email clients by mistake or miss an important business message because Twitter has a cluster of new follower suggestions.

In your new email account create separate folders and use filters to organise where certain emails go. Try to keep invoices apart in particular, as it will save you time when it comes to doing your tax return.

Also, there are many software add-ons out there which can help you keep on top of your emails. Yesware for example, lets you track when the recipient has read your email. It also lets you set reminders to follow-up on a message when you don’t hear back.

4. Have set working hours and take regular breaks.

It can be easy to lose track of time. In a work from home technology business the majority of time is spent in front of a computer, and you can easily find yourself working longer hours than you ever imagined.

Try to set regular working hours and get into a routine. Doing the odd bit of over-time here and there is fine, but knowing when to call it a day can really help your productivity later in the week.

Likewise try to take regular breaks throughout the day, get some fresh air or look out the window at the horizon to help give your eyes a rest. Burning yourself out in the first month is only going to slow your progress further down the line.

Work from home technology business - stay healthy

5. Stay healthy.

As mentioned above, keeping a routine is a great way to maintain your productivity. But let’s be honest, sometimes work takes priority over your diet and health. In line with having set working hours try to plan out your daily meals so that when you do have a long day you don’t end up eating something quick and easy and mostly likely unhealthy.

Similarly try to get some regular exercise. Sitting in front of your computer for hours on end, day after day may be mentally fatiguing but physically it’s downright lazy. Exercising regularly will not only keep you fit, but it will get you out the house and ensure your brain gets a rest as well.

Personally, I’ve found working from home was ideal for starting my technology business. It gives you the freedom to work when you like and, so long as you stay organised, it’s a great way to save money and time.

Yet, you also have to be disciplined as the toll of working long hours in front of computer screens can have serious health repercussions if not taken in moderation. If you get that balance right you may find, like me, that you have your dream job.

work from home secrets

Joel is a co-founder and regular blogger at RotaCloud. He likes to write about running and managing small businesses, and has been working from home for the past year and a half.

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