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How to deal with disruptions when you run a home business

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Running a home business requires dedication and patience. Living in the moment while maintaining organisational skills can be tough, but there are some ways to make it easier. Managing disruptions like family emergencies, supplies running out, power outages or kids at home can be challenging, but it is possible with some simple strategies.

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When you’re an employee, if something happens to disrupt your life, you have the option to call off work. Depending on your job and the issue, your employer may get someone in to cover for you or just wait until you’re back. When you run your own home business, however, managing disruptions is your problem. Here are some tips to help.

Have spares of all your supplies

If you’re making physical products (e.g. running a crafting business), then make sure you always have plenty of supplies. That way, if you have a problem with a delivery or need to change supplier, you’ll have more time on your side. 

If you work purely at a computer, backup your data and keep spares of vital accessories like charging cables.

Make sure you have plenty of paper and ink if you need to print out shipping labels.  Never let it run out.  It’s best to have one spare all the time and order more as soon as you start using the spare.  This way, your work life won’t be disrupted when you’re in the middle of an important deadline or working on an intense project, just because you need to run out to the store to find something you’ve run out of.  You need to stay on top of having enough of everything you need as there is no office supplies cupboard to raid!

Get organised and have spares of everything to keep you going and store it well so you know where things are as soon as you need them.  In a home office, your best storage option is generally a standard household chest of drawers. These keep your work items out of sight but still accessible. If you like to see your supplies try putting them in clear containers.  Check Tylko’s page to see the different styles of chest of drawers you could use.  They are adaptable to your home office’s size and shape.

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Have an alternative to your home office

If you’re planning on running a home business over the long term then it’s very much preferable to have a proper home office. Do everything you can to soundproof it effectively. If you can’t, or if you want extra protection, consider investing in a pair of noise-cancelling headphones. These aren’t long-term solutions to noise issues but they can get you through temporary disruptions such as when the kids get back from school and you still need to work, someone is vacuuming or the neighbours are doing DIY.

You need to consider the possibility that you’ll lose access to your home office on some occasions. For example, if your home needs work done on it, you may need to move elsewhere so it can happen. Or sometimes you may just need more peace to be able to focus.

Think carefully about this. Not only do you need a place to go, you need the equipment to be able to work when you get there. You’ll also need to be able to power that equipment. If you’re going to be away for anything more than a few hours, that means extra batteries and/or access to mains power.  You’ll probably also need a way to get online such as hot spotting your mobile data to your laptop.

You can choose internet cafes or perhaps there is a shared office space locally to you where you can hire a desk by the day, or even by the hour.

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Have backup help

Realistically, there are going to be times when you need to get help. The most obvious reason for this is sickness (yours or somebody else’s like your children). A more cheerful reason is excess work. Either way, you’re going to want to focus your energy on dealing with the situation. You won’t want to be spending your time training someone to do what you do.

An effective way to deal with this is to make checklists of how you do your everyday tasks. These can be both home-related (including child-related) and business-related. Just make sure that they contain everything someone else would need to know to do that job for you. Then, if you do need help, your helper can easily learn whatever it is you want them to do.

On a similar note, think of what type of help you might need and where you can get it. If your Plan A is to bring in family and friends then make sure you also have a Plan B. Remember, even if they are always willing to help, they may not be able to help at the specific time you need them.  Perhaps you have a deadline and the school is having an inset day.  You may need a local holiday club or childminder as your backup solution for childcare on these random days when all your friends and family may be at work.  The same for summer holidays and half terms.

If you have excess work then consider using a virtual assistant or freelance help to answer emails, complete the more repetitive tasks or mundane tasks, so you can get on with the actual running and growing of your business.  Or if possible, train them up completely if the work can be done remotely, so you can focus on getting better if you are sick. 

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