ELISABETH

In the 21st century, operating your business venture from home no longer means simultaneously juggling client work and household chores while still in your pajamas at 3:00 PM. There is an art to working from home and not everyone is able to master the craft. Working from home can be considered a luxury or a necessity. The ability to establish your business venture within your home saves considerable time and money, which in turn can be invested in the enterprise. But if you are not disciplined, you will be foiled by constant distractions and your productivity will be impacted.

"The level of discipline it takes to work from home and generate solid results is intense and most people fail at (working from) home because of this one fact," warns business and sales strategy expert Grant Cardone, author of If You're Not First, You're Last (2010). Operating a business from one's home is most successfully practiced by independent self-starters who are comfortable working alone. Solopreneurs save transportation time, avoid office rental expenses and give themselves more potential working hours in which to maximize productivity.

Control over one's time is a huge benefit. There will be no impromptu meetings to hijack your schedule or long conversations by the water cooler wasting time talking about last night's game, but those who live with others may have to fight to enforce boundaries and eliminate constant interruptions. Make the most of your home office experience and follow these tips:

I. Create a defined office space

Ideally, you'll be able to dedicate a room in your home to use as an office. City dwellers may have a small desk or writing table in a corner of their bedroom. Keep your workspace clean and organized, as suggested by feng shui experts. A good environment really does boost productivity and makes us feel more comfortable.

2. Establish boundaries

If you live with others, teach them to respect that when you step into your office space, you are at work. You cannot referee spats. You cannot chat with your husband or mother. You cannot drive anyone to the mall. Shut the door and work. Do take normal workday coffee and lunch breaks.

3. Keep regular work hours

Maintain a regular work schedule. You have the ability to work longer or shorter hours, early mornings or late nights, according to your bio-rhythms and the projects on your desk. Resist the temptation to become either a workaholic or a slacker.

4. Dress for success

The popular image of those who work from home is of someone who's in a bathrobe all day. Remind yourself and those with whom you live that you are a professional who takes your work seriously. Take a daily shower, brush your teeth, comb your hair and dress for work, whether in business casual attire or jeans and T-shirt.

5. Stay connected

Working at home is isolating and it is therefore important to maintain professional contacts. If you telecommute, set up and participate in conference call meetings that keep you in the loop at the office. Write reports that document your work and contributions to your team. Meet regularly with clients, whether you are a telecommuter or Solopreneur. Join and participate in professional networking groups and attend conferences. Nurture relationships with professional colleagues.