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Work from home franchises

by Richard Holden, Head of Franchising, Lloyds TSB Bank plc

Many small business owners dream of working from home, attracted by the flexibility and freedom that can come with it. Advances in technology mean that setting up an office to run a franchise in a bedroom or basement can be done easily. I myself operate from my home office. But just how should you go about setting up a business at home? What are the benefits and what are the pitfalls?

Benefits

The major benefit of home working is the financial savings on premises costs. If you have spare space at home why pay the rental on an office or be tied into long tenancy agreements? However, as well as the financial benefits, there’s the time you’ll save travelling to and from work and the flexibility of working from home can help you manage other commitments such as children. You make up the rules to suit your life, whether it’s the hours you work or what you wear during the working day.

Pitfalls

Some people find it hard to switch off from work when they operate from home and there is a temptation to work long hours. It is important to set limits to ensure your work doesn’t affect your family life, but equally to ensure that domestic distractions don’t affect your productivity. Separating home and work life can be a challenge to say the least.

Family support is vital to ensure you are able to work productively when you want to. You can enlist family members to help you with general administration tasks such as answering the telephone, typing or filing.

Other common pitfalls are that clients may get the wrong impression if you don’t have somewhere to meet with them – often a problem for those working in a confined space. Similarly, a lack of space may also restrict the growth of your business. And the feelings of isolation and loneliness that working from home can cause, can be a problem for some people.

Home working - Points for consideration

If you run your business from home you shouldn’t assume that your existing household insurance covers you. You will need to assess your business insurance needs separately and make sure that your business equipment is covered and that you have public liability insurance for customers who may visit you. If you employ anyone, even part-timers, employer’s liability insurance will be compulsory.

Another thing to bear in mind is that your mortgage or tenancy agreement may prevent you from using your home to run a business. You’ll need to check with your mortgage lender, landlord or freeholder if you are thinking of working from home.

You may require planning permission from your local authority for using your property for business purposes, particularly if it involves changes to your property. You may need to pay business rates rather than council tax on the part of the property that is used for business purposes. On the upside, you can claim tax relief on domestic bills for areas of the house used for your business. Installing a separate telephone line for business use will make it easier to claim tax relief on business calls.

Before considering working from your property it is essential to check that you won’t be breaking any laws or upsetting neighbours by doing so. Assuming your business is unobtrusive, no one is likely to object. But if your neighbours are inconvenienced by smells, noise, cars blocking the streets, lorries delivering goods regularly or unusual working hours, you could find yourself in trouble with your local authority. If your business involves any unusual activities that will affect the residential area that you live in then you should contact your local authority for guidance.

You should carry out a Health and Safety risk assessment to identify potential hazards to yourself, employees, visitors and other members of the household. You need to write down the results of your risk assessment if you employ five or more people. Possible hazards include handling heavy loads, your computer set up, electrical appliances or excessive noise. You will need to consider emergency procedures and first aid provision. Electrical safety is very important and you should not overload socket points. You should install a smoke detector in your work area as a precaution for early warning in case there is a fire.

Top Tips

    1. Working from home has it’s financial benefits however consider whether it’s going to be the most productive place to operate from

    2. If operating from a home based office you still need to review health and safety, insurance and employment issues

    3. Think about the impact running a business from home will have on you, your family, neighbours and clients

About the Author

Richard Holden, Head of Franchising, Lloyds TSB Bank plc

Richard heads up the Lloyds TSB franchise team and is a regular contributor to trade publications and national press. He is on the panel of judges for the Franchise Marketing Awards and regularly speaks at franchise seminars and exhibitions. Lloyds TSB are affiliate members of the British Franchise Association and proud to support the growth of ethical franchising in the UK.

Contact Details

Tel: 07802 324018

E-Mail: richard.j.holden@lloydstsb.co.uk

Website: www.lloydstsbbusiness.com/franchising

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