Deciding to be a home based entrepreneur doesn't mean you get to live the life of a hermit. Home office design can make or break a deal with a client, if you haven't put enough thought into it. You want to create an office space that's functional for your needs, while at the same time presenting a professional image to any customers who stop by.
Choose Your Home Office Location
You'll want your home office to be easily accessible to potential clients. If you have to lead them through a side entrance in your garage, the laundry room, a spare bathroom, the children's play room, and the pantry to get to your office, they're not going to want to come back. An office that's just off the main entrance of your home is the best choice. If your options are limited because of the design of your home, do the best you can. Make sure that the path to your home office is always clean and tidy.
Select the Right Furniture
You want the office to be inviting to your customers. Make sure you have at least two comfortable chairs available for them to sit in. If there's room, a couch and a coffee table are also good options. Whatever design you choose for the furniture layout, make sure there's a clear, flat space in front of them, so they can set up a laptop or take notes. Keep any filing cabinets or bookshelves back out of the way, preferably behind your desk. Speaking of bookshelves, be careful which titles you have on display. Make sure they're related to your industry. A mini fridge or a coffee maker can also come in handy.
Decorating Your Home Office
Whether you like it or not, your clients will judge you based on how your office is decorated. The autographed poster from that rock concert you went to 15 years ago might be inspiring to you, but your clients might not like it. If you put artwork on the walls, select some tasteful prints. Framed newspaper articles that have been written about your business are a nice addition. You'll also want to post any degrees or specialized licenses you have. Clients will look these over, and it lets them know that you're a legitimate business owner.
Maintaining Your Office Space
Keep the home office looking neat and clean. This will help you stay organized and on task when you're working, and clients will appreciate it. Try to keep your office a pet-free zone, because you never know when a customer might be allergic to Fluffy. Have plenty of home office supplies on hand, preferably stored out of sight. Stationery and pens with your logos on them can be especially useful. If a client forgets to bring something to take notes on, you can give them a notepad and a pen with your contact information on them. Aside from business cards, these can be a good way to keep your business name in front of them once they leave your office.
Don't feel like you need to go overboard when designing and decorating your home office. This is just one aspect to being a home based entrepreneur. Use your imagination, make the best of the space you have, and keep the office neat, tidy, and professional.
Daphne Mallory, Esq. is the co-owner of Mallory Writing Services and has written more than 100 articles helping home based business owners and entrepreneurs start and market their business. You can learn more about her here.