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Category Archives: Business

Bitcoin worth more than gold

The crypto currency known for its anonymity and decentralised nature reached an all-time high on Friday afternoon, making it more valuable than gold in Australia.

The currency has been surprisingly steady this year, remaining above the arbitrary $US1000 mark ($1297) for its longest ever stretch, according to researcher CoinDesk.

Industry heads point to the nearing deadline of a decision by Securities Exchange Commission in the US to introduce the first of three bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETF).

“There is a lot of excitement that the Winklevoss twins’ ETF is coming close to approval,” says Asher Tan, CEO at bitcoin exchange and platform CoinJar. “But there are more regulatory hurdles to get through.”

Approval of the fund would mean easier access for traders, potentially unleashing a flood of trade.

“The market is signalling for more wholesale and institutional investment,” Mr Tan continues. “Wallets and exchanges are better understood, and the availability of services makes it a lot more attractive to new investors. The ecosystem has matured.”

However, he warns that volatility is inevitable with the price rising so quickly.

“Regulation is looking positive in most countries,” says Rupert Hackett, general manager of bitcoin.com.au exchange, citing Japan, the Philippines and China all showing positive signs of accepting the new technology.

“It’s a big shift. Once bitcoin is regulated, it means it is safe, legitimate, and should be considered as a potential investment.”

He also conservatively sees bitcoin reaching a price of $US2000 by the end of the year.

“This is all Trump and the ripple effects of Trump,” Mark Bunger, an analyst at Lux Research, told Bloomberg.

What’s the Best Legal Structure for Your Freelance Business?

Although many professionals who freelance on the side simply report their earnings as “miscellaneous income” via the Schedule C (1040) form on their personal tax return, full-time self-employed individuals may find it beneficial to create a legal business entity.

Lauren Saccone, freelance writer and social media consultant, recently established an LLC called Pitchbow at the end of 2016. After freelancing part-time for nearly a decade, she has been a full-time freelancer based in New Jersey for the past two years.

Saccone’s tipping point was filing her taxes for 2015.

“I didn’t know anything about filing as a freelancer,” she said. “I had to figure it all out myself at the last minute, and it was an informative experience, but (it was) stressful.”

Sole proprietorship is one of the most straightforward types of business classifications. It’s also the most common and simplest, because it doesn’t require formal action. If you’re already a freelance writer, like myself, you’re already a sole proprietor of your own business. This makes it easy to prepare for tax season.

There are a few important drawbacks freelancers should be aware of. According to the Small Business Administration, there is an unlimited amount of personal liability. If a company wants to take legal action against your work, they can legally take action against you specifically. You’re also held personally responsible for business-related debts and financial burdens.

Since Saccone offers social media services and isn’t exclusively writing for publications, the LLC structure was the best choice for her. LegalZoom, an online legal service for business owners, helped her find the best fit and guided her through all the difficult paperwork.

Another reason she chose LLC was legal safety, which sole proprietorship specifically doesn’t provide.

“If I wrote something someone didn’t like, they would previously go after me personally, but now, it’d be through my business,” Saccone said. “It provides a security net.

For instance, late payments are always a nightmare for freelancers. Under an established name and company, Saccone feels more confident chasing down payments than she did before. Pitchbow provides her an added blanket of agency.

Saccone previously considered sole proprietorship, but the category wasn’t inclusive of her overall services. An LLC encompasses her business’s wide range of services.

“One day, I’ll be pitching stories, another I’m writing Instagram posts, and the next I’m working on content marketing,” Saccone said.

What about S corporations? Freelancers Union reports that an S corp helps you dodge paying both personal and corporate taxes. S corps have much stricter guidelines for taxes, though, because owners are paid based on salary and receive dividends from any additional profits the business may earn. Rather than filing a personal tax return, you must file a specific business return.

S corps also require business owners to pay their partners fairly. The Small Business Administration points out shareholders must receive adequate compensation. Otherwise, the IRS can flag you for unfair salary distribution.

If all this seems daunting to you, just remember that your freelance business can still be legitimate without the legal structure, especially if you’re just starting out.

An introduction to coaching

An introduction to coaching

1
Coaching is a useful tool in today’s challenging world of business and commerce. Companies are downsizing, merging and restructuring and there is far more job transition than before. Sometimes managers are no longer equipped to do their work because their jobs have changed so much. They were originally trained to do one job but that training cannot be applied to the job they are doing today. Coaching is also one of the most powerful tools that a leader has in order to improve the performance of his team.

2
Coaching is a partnership between an individual or a team and a coach. For the purpose of this article we will refer to an individual but the concepts are exactly the same for a team. First of all the individual identifies his objectives. Then, through the process of being coached, he focuses on the skills he needs to develop to achieve those objectives. In professional coaching the individual begins by leading the conversation and the coach listens and observes. Gradually, as the coach begins to understand the individual’s goals, he will make observations and ask appropriate questions. His task is to guide the individual towards making more effective decisions and eventually achieving his objectives. Coaching looks at where the individual is now and where he wants to get to.

3
Between the initial interview and an individual achieving the goals he identified, there is a process in which the two parties meet for regular coaching sessions. The length of time each session lasts will be established at the start of the partnership. Between sessions an individual might be expected to complete specific tasks. A coach might also provide literature for the individual to study in preparation for the following session. Most coaches employ an “appreciative approach” whereby the individual identifies what is right, what is working, what is wanted and what is needed to get there. An appreciative approach focuses more on the positive rather than problems.

4
An individual who enters into a coaching partnership will usually adopt new perspectives and be able to better appreciate opportunities for self-development. Confidence will usually grow and the individual will think more clearly and be more confident in his roles. In terms of business, coaching often leads to an increase in productivity and more personal satisfaction. All of this leads to a growth in self-esteem.

5
In a coaching partnership the coach first needs to listen carefully in order to fully understand the individual’s situation. He needs to support and encourage forward-planning and decision-making. A coach also needs to help an individual recognise his own potential and the opportunities that are on offer. A good coach will guide an individual to fresh perspectives. Finally, the coach must respect the confidentiality of his partner.

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Coaching can bring out the best in workers, highlighting what they can achieve if they are given the right support. Both individuals and teams can enjoy an increased level of motivation after receiving the right coaching. When individuals are keen to make progress in their jobs, they usually enjoy being coached and find the experience extremely useful.

How to Change a Management

A change for the better?

In the world of business, change is inevitable.  Nobody would seriously argue with that, especially at a time when IT developments are sweeping through all areas of work and changing how things are done and who does them.  But when change does come, not everybody agrees on what it means.  How you view change depends on  in the organisation, and managers and employees usually have very different perspectives.

If you’re , your focus is on results, and you’ll see the change as the best way to realise them.  They are more aware of the business’ overall goals, the financial state of the company and its position with regard to competitors and market share.

When  consider introducing change, they ask questions such as, ‘How quickly can it be implemented?’, ‘How will it benefit the company?’, ‘What investment is required?’, ‘How cost effective is the change?’ and ‘How will it affect our customers?’  Since they are usually the advocates of change, managers tend to be more enthusiastic about it.

If you’re , however, your focus is more on the immediate task of getting the job done.  They seldom have time to consider how their work fits into the overall scheme of things; they don’t share the broader perspective of the company directors.  Because they are often skilled and experienced in their work, or because they are placed on the frontline dealing with customers on a daily basis, they look at change from a personal perspective.

The questions ask are, ‘How will this effect the quality of my work?’, ‘How much time will it take for me to adapt?’, ‘What’s wrong with the way we’ve always done things?’ and, ultimately, ‘What’s in it for me?’  Since employees are the ones who have to put the change into action, they are usually less enthusiastic about it.

With such different  about change within the organisation, it’s not surprising that innovation often fails.  Planned changes need to be carefully thought out and managed.  If not, morale will suffer as people feel that they are being forced to change against their will.   There will surely be resistance, and some highly valued members of staff may even decide it’s time to leave.

All of this can eventually have a negative affect on productivity and efficiency.  Management will have to admit defeat and drop the change, or risk losing  to the competition…and then another great idea bites the dust.

How Strategy Talk Creates Value

Traditionally, CEO strategy presentations are derided as little more than “cheap talk.” After all, it doesn’t cost much to rent out that conference room, set up the video link, and paint a grand vision of the firm for investors and the press. Real strategy is decided behind closed doors, the thinking goes.

What’s more, sometimes these presentations are viewed as a ruse to throw off rivals by laying out an agenda the CEO has no intention of fulfilling. In this sense, strategy presentations have been compared to “vaporware” announcements, in which companies claim to be developing something that they aren’t in order to compel competitors to commit resources to a phony war.

But devising a strategy and selling it to investors is perhaps the key componentof a CEO’s job. Some researchers have suggested that failing to follow through on promises, even vague ones, can do serious damage to a CEO’s reputation down the line, which can, in turn, send stock prices tumbling. These high stakes might give companies a reason to take strategy presentations more seriously. So might the trend toward transparency in business — researchshows that one in five Fortune Global 500 companies gives strategy presentations in any given year.

According to a new study, more companies might want to follow their example. The conventional wisdom that views strategy presentations as little more than window dressing is seriously misguided, the authors found — at least when it comes to presentations made by new CEOs. The strategy presentations these CEOs make in the months following their appointment seem to soothe investors’ uncertainty, and tend to provide an immediate and significant boost to the firm’s stock price. “In this sense, contrary to skepticism from theorists of cheap talk, investors see strategy presentations as credible and economically significant,” the authors write. “Strategy talk matters.”

The authors analyzed new CEOs because their appointment is typicallyregarded as a moment of strategic change, when setting out a vision for the firm’s future provides investors with their first real indication of the priorities of the new person in charge. These strategy reviews also give investors a chance to assess the new CEO’s charisma, competence, and experience up close.

The authors obtained data on strategy presentations carried out by companies listed on the NYSE and Nasdaq from 2000 to 2010. To isolate the effects of CEO presentations, they eliminated firms that also issued announcements about dividends, earnings, mergers and acquisitions, major contract awards, lawsuits, or new products within a three-week period around the time of the strategy review. They also controlled for other relevant factors that could skew the results, such as firm size, stock-price volatility, and the number of analysts following a company.

A Better Way to Engage Your Strategy

Here’s how dynamic engagement works: Whether it’s monthly, bimonthly, or quarterly, the CEO and board carve out regular time to work together on an ongoing, prioritized agenda of strategy issues and opportunities. At any point in time, this entails one or more of the following:

• Deciding which particular issues and opportunities have potentially strategy-changing implications for the company, and which need to be addressed now

• Agreeing on how to frame each issue/opportunity (a well-framed statement, based on an agreed-upon set of facts, that calls for a rethink of the strategy in some important way)

• Generating alternative responses to each particular issue/opportunity (the ideal number of alternatives is two or four — an even number to prevent defaulting to a middle-of-the-road fudge, and no more than four to avoid getting bogged down when presented with too many options)

• Choosing the criteria that will guide how alternatives are evaluated

• Agreeing on whether the alternatives have been evaluated well enough

• Selecting the alternative that’s best for the company (the question is not “What is the right thing to do?” — it’s “What is the best thing to do?”)

• Deciding on how the company’s strategy and plans should change in response to the issue/opportunity, given the selected alternatives.

Dynamic engagement also operationalizes the practical reality that strategy is not a one-and-done thing. It is either dying or evolving. The right attitude is not “We set strategy and then execute like hell” — it’s “We execute like hell and never stop evolving our strategy.”

Adopting the latter attitude is critical, because technological innovations, competitive disruptions, changing customer expectations, political movements, regulatory shifts, and many other forces ensure that there will be an unyielding stream of challenges and developments that demand change to some aspect of your strategy. A strategy that is immune from such things is likely pitched at such a high level that it’s not a strategy at all, but just a series of big, sweeping statements.

Thus, the true work of strategy is never done — and it certainly doesn’t follow the tidy, annual rhythm of the typical strategic planning process and board off-sites. Strategically important issues and opportunities can occur at any time, and they can’t always wait for the next planning cycle or off-site to roll around. Nor can you do full justice to the biggest issues and opportunities within an annual planning process or off-site, given their practical limitations on time and agendas that are necessarily packed with other essential duties.

Moreover, the CEO and board’s work together on strategy should be kept separate from their all-important business on governance, compliance, finance, risk management, investor relations, compensation, succession, and other such matters. Strategy making is a creative act that benefits from an unrushed agenda with external inspiration, new insight, and collaborative iteration. It does not mix well with the typical board agenda.

Directors love the dynamic engagement approach when they experience it. They much prefer doing the real work of strategy, rather than rubber-stamping visions, mission statements, and plans. When they are actively engaged, it does amazing things for the metabolic rate of a company’s decision making and execution because of the shared commitment and understanding it produces. They recognize how it forces execution-sapping differences to the surface, makes subsequent agreements that much truer, and renders resulting decisions much less ripe for unpicking down the road.

7 Principles of Strategy

1. Aim High

Don’t compromise your strategy or your execution. Set a lofty ambition for your strategy: not just financial success but sustained value creation, making a better world through your products, services, and presence. Apple’s early goal of making “a computer for the rest of us,” which effectively shaped the personal computer industry, is a classic example.

Next, aim just as high on the execution side, with a dedication to excellence that seems almost obsessive to outsiders. Apple, for instance, has long been known for its intensive interest in every aspect of product design and marketing, iterating endlessly until its notoriously demanding leaders are satisfied. The company’s leaders do not consider execution beneath them; it is part of what makes Apple special.

2. Build on Your Strengths

Your company has capabilities that set it apart, things you do better than anyone else. You can use them as a starting point to create greater success. Yet more likely than not, your strongest capabilities have been obscured over the years. If, like most companies, you pursue opportunities that crop up without thinking much about whether you have the prowess needed to capture them, you can gradually lose sight of what you do best, or why customers respond to it.

Take an inventory of your most distinctive capabilities. Look for examples where you have excelled as a company, achieving greatly desired outcomes without heroic efforts. Articulate all the different things that had to happen to make these capabilities work, and figure out what it will take to build on your strengths, so that you can succeed the same way more consistently in the future.

3. Be Ambidextrous

In the physical world, ambidexterity is the ability to use both hands with equal skill and versatility. In business, it’s the ability to manage strategy and execution with equal competence. In some companies, this is known as being “bilingual”: able to speak the language of the boardroom and the shop floor or software center with equal facility. Ambidextrous managers can think about the technical and operational details of a project in depth and then, without missing a beat, can consider its broader ramifications for the industry. If strategy through execution is to become a reality, people across the enterprise need to master ambidexterity.

Lack of ambidexterity can be a key factor in chronic problems. For instance, if IT professionals focus only on execution when they manage ERP upgrades or the adoption of new applications, they may be drawn to vendors for their low rates or expertise on specific platforms instead of their ability to design solutions that support the company’s business strategy. When the installation fails to deliver the capabilities that the company needs, there will be an unplanned revision; the costs will balloon accordingly, and the purchase won’t fulfill its promise.

4. Clarify Everyone’s Strategic Role

When the leaders of the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) of Saudi Arabia decided to improve the way they ran the country’s 25 airports, they started with the hub in Riyadh, one of the largest airports in the country. They had already outsourced much of their activity, redesigning airport practices and enhancing operations. But not much had changed. Convening the directors and some department leaders, the head of the airport explained that some seemingly minor operational issues — long customs lines, slow boarding processes, and inadequate basic amenities — were not just problems in execution. They stood in the way of the country’s goal of becoming a commercial and logistics hub for Africa, Asia, and Europe. Individual airport employees, he added, could make a difference.

5. Align Structures to Strategy

Set up all your organizational structures, including your hierarchical design, decision rights, incentives, and metrics, so they reinforce your company’s identity: your value proposition and critical capabilities. If the structures of your company don’t support your strategy, consider removing them or changing them wholesale. Otherwise, they will just get in your way.

Consider, for example, the metrics used to track the results delivered by call center employees. In many companies, these individuals must follow a script and check off that they’ve said everything on the list — even at the risk of irritating potential customers. Better instead to get employees to fully internalize the company’s strategy and grade them on their prowess at solving customer problems.

6. Transcend Functional Barriers

Great capabilities always transcend functional barriers. Consider Starbucks’ understanding of how to create the right ambience, Haier’s ability to rapidly manufacture home appliances to order, and Amazon’s aptitude for launching products and services enabled by new technologies. These companies all bring people from different functions to work together informally and creatively. Most companies have some experience with this. For example, any effective TPE capability brings together marketing, sales, design, finance, and analytics professionals, all working closely together and learning from one another. The stronger the cross-functional interplay and the more it is supported by the company’s culture, the more effective the promotion.

7. Become a Fully Digital Enterprise

The seventh principle should affect every technological investment you make — and with luck, it will prevent you from making some outdated ones. Embrace digital technology’s potential to transform your company: to create fundamentally new experiences and interactions for your customers, your employees, and every other constituent. Until you use technology this way, many of your IT investments will be wasted; you won’t realize their potential in forming powerful new capabilities.

Any Factors That Keep You from Getting a Small Loan Business

Credit reports are one tool lenders use to determine a borrower’s credibility. If your credit report shows a lack of past diligence in paying back debts, you might be rejected when applying for a loan.

Paul Steck, former president and CEO of the international franchise restaurant Saladworks, has worked with hundreds of small business franchisees, many of whom have bad personal credit as a result of illness, divorce or other extenuating circumstances.

“Sometimes, very good people, for reasons beyond their control, have credit issues,” Steck said. “And, unfortunately, that’s a real barrier to entry in the world of small business.”

Cash flow — a measure of how much cash you have on hand to pay back a loan — is usually the first thing lenders look at when gauging the health of your business. Insufficient cash flow is a flaw that most lenders can’t afford to overlook. Therefore, it’s the first thing business owners should consider when determining if they can afford a loan.

“Really thinking through that cash-flow equation is like preventative medicine for your business,” said Jay DesMarteau, head of regional commercial specialty segments for TD Bank. “You can either wait until [your business] gets sick, or you can do things to prevent it from getting sick.”

One of the preventative measures DesMarteau recommends is to calculate cash flow at least quarterly. If business owners take that step, they may be able to optimize their cash flow before approaching potential lenders.

Having a plan and sticking to it is much more attractive than spontaneity in the finance world.

“Banks require that business owners have an organized, detailed and quantitative business plan in order to move forward with the loan process,” said David Goldin, CEO, president and founder of Capify, an alternative small business lender.

However, Goldin noted that it’s common for very small businesses to not have a formal business plan or any plan at all, for that matter. In these situations, he recommends that business owners at least forecast their future earnings before applying for a loan, so lenders will have an idea of your profitability.

You should also be prepared to explain your plan for the money you want to borrow.

“Lenders’ … biggest single complaint is that small business owners aren’t able to articulate very well how they’re going to use the capital that they’re looking for, how they’re going to make repayment and what impact they think [the loan] is going to have,” said Ty Kiisel, who writes about small business for online lender OnDeck.

According to Kiisel, your pitch to lenders doesn’t need to be eloquent, but it must be straightforward. At the bare minimum, loan applicants should be prepared to explain why the want a loan and how they plan to repay it.

When it comes to approaching potential lenders, business owners should have their act together. That means having all the paperwork you’ll need for your loan application on hand.

“One of the things that can be a problem when applying for a loan is if [business owners] don’t have the documentation that the bank will require [such as] back tax returns,” Steck said.

There are plenty of resources that business owners can refer to when putting together their loan applications. The Small Business Administration, for example, provides a highly detailed loan application checklist for borrowers. Using these resources can decrease your likelihood of coming across as disorganized or unprepared.

When it comes to making financial decisions for your business, lenders want to see that you’ve sought guidance from knowledgeable advisers.

“Accountants can be an important source of advice for small business owners. That’s why Bizfi has partnered with theNational Directory of Certified Public Accountants,” says Stephen Sheinbaum, CEO of alternative lender Bizfi. “But there are many other places to find good people to talk to, such as the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE), a free mentoring service that is supported by the Small Business Administration.”

According to Sheinbaum, SCORE connects you with retired businesspeople with experience in your market.

“This is important because they will know about the kind of capital that is most important to people within your industry,” said Sheinbaum.

He also recommends that business owners get financial advice from business networking groups and conduct research on the websites of the leading alternative funders, since many have detailed resource sections for small businesses about the many kinds of available capital and the best ways to prepare for funding.

Too many business owners approach lenders with an apathetic attitude, Steck said. In other words, they simply don’t demonstrate why they, rather than someone else, are a good candidate for a loan.

“You have to exude a passion,” said Steck. “I’m going to do this, and I’m going to be the best in the whole wide world. You have to go into it with that sort of mentality, and a lot of [potential borrowers] don’t do that.”

Everything You Need to Know to Get Started With Slack

Slack is built for teams, and that’s the premise behind the original structure. It’s free to create one — you need to select a name for the team and a password, and then you can invite other collaborators.

It’s easy to accumulate membership in multiple teams if you’re a freelancer or work with several different organizations that create Slack teams. Even some families have latched on to Slack as a way to keep everyone on the same page. Its growing popularity means that familiarity with Slack is essential whether or not your business currently uses it.

Creating a Slack team is pretty straightforward. You give your team a name (it can’t be reused with an existing team) and you’re off. You can invite others through their email addresses to be members. There is desktop software for Windows and Mac, along with mobile apps for iOS, Android and Windows Phone.

Within a team, you can break things down more specifically with channels. Depending on the type of account you opt for, there will be additional levels of access to your teams for freelancers or other outside contributors who aren’t on your payroll.

At the free level, you have limited app integration and can only search your last 10,000 messages. If you’re a sole proprietor with some occasional help or a very small business that doesn’t need extensive records, then you should be fine. Slack says the unpaid level will always be free, without any sort of time limit to convert to a paid plan.

Larger businesses will want to opt for the standard or plus plans. Additionally, Slack recently established an enterprise grid option for larger companies that want search and other connections across multiple teams and channels.

One of the reasons that Slack has grown in popularity is the number of third-party apps it can integrate. You can connect the service to Google Drive, Dropbox, Salesforce and numerous bots. Slack even offers its own Slackbotthat tries to liven up the conversation or help you find key features. These can extend what you do with Slack to make it more than just a chat room.

One of the most popular connections is with Giphy. By typing “/giphy,” you can throw in a gif that gets the point across in a way that sometimes mere words can’t do. If you manage your team’s Slack account, you can turn this feature off to keep things from getting a little too zany.

Each individual user can customize the design of their Slack application and have visibility of the main chat room. Learning to @mention another user is essential, particularly if you have a ton of different conversations going at once.

The best organizational technique is to group different teams into channels. Whether it’s a different vertical within an umbrella business or just more focused conversations, organizing your channels is key to helping everyone not be overwhelmed by a cluttered mess of chats.

Working in Slack is significantly faster if you learn the hotkeys for the commands that you use the most. The company keeps a running list on its blog. Here are some of the key shortcuts you’ll want to know about.

The shortcuts are very similar on Mac and Windows desktop versions. If you’re using a Chromebook, the Windows keyboard commands will be the ones you want to use.

One of the longest-sought feature upgrades to Slack was the ability to have threaded conversations. They’ve finally arrived, and it appears the wait was worth it, because the solution is really well thought out.

You can tuck away a thread and not bother with it if it’s not one you’re a part of. They were also implemented in the Slack mobile apps to make maximum use of the limited screen real estate.

Cost and learning curve are usually the major factors in deciding if such a critical piece of software should be deployed widely. Atlassian continues to ramp up its HipChat service, and Microsoft Teams may be the more compelling option if your business uses Office 365. But Slack’s funding and ambitions will continue to make it one of the top choices when it comes to keeping your team conversations all in one place.

5 Ways to Improve Work-Life Balance When You Work at Home

When you work in an office, part of your normal routine includes changing out of your pajamas and into work-appropriate attire. Though it’s tempting to work in your favorite PJs, it may not be the best option for productivity.

“It helps if you get dressed as if you are going to work,” Lisa Chui, VP of finance and HR at Ubiquity Retirement and Savings, told Business News Daily. “You don’t have to wear a suit or heels, of course, but don’t stay in your pajamas, either. Dressing in clothes that you would wear outside of the home helps you get into the mindset of work.”

Getting ready is important, especially because the way you dress can affect the way you feel.

“Treat [your home] like a real work environment,” said Sara Davidson, founder of online female entrepreneur school Hello Fearless. “It makes a huge difference when you feel like [it is]. It changes the culture.”

Much like putting on a proper outfit, committing to only doing work in a defined space, like an office or another sectioned-off area of your home, can help to create a more productive work environment.

“It’s critical to commute out of the bedroom to a dedicated workspace that separates work from personal space,” said Bob Higgins, co-founder of board game Linknotize. “Once you’ve commuted to your workspace, treat your day as if you’ve actually left the house. In addition to having a dedicated work area, it is also really important to keep at least one space in the house as a business-free zone.”

“I find that having a dedicated home office space is very helpful,” added Sara Sutton Fell, founder and CEO of FlexJobs. “Personally, I work from a renovated space above my garage, but the people on my team set up their home offices in guest bedrooms, renovated closets, corners of the living room and other creative areas.”

When you do find a space or dedicate a room separate from the rest of the house, treat it like an office, suggests Charles Sankowich, CEO and founder ofFriendthem, a social app.

“Keep the doors shut and avoid distractions,” he said “No TV, no radio and make sure others in the household respect your space and don’t interrupt you. They, like you, have to be disciplined to treat your office like an office.”

Working from home can create a disconnect; both with a “typical” work structure and the team. It’s important to touch base with the team and communicate effectively.

“If your company has a tool like Slack, join in the conversations and try to have some verbal communication, either by telephone or by the computer so that you have conversations,” Chui said. “If you are local but still work at home, try to go into the office for big team or company events.”

Chui encouraged remote workers to come into the office at least once a quarter, and participate in their company’s intranet, if it has one.

Giving your full attention to a specific task, regardless of whether it’s work- or home-related, can be tough with all the distractions that pop up throughout the day.

“I want to give so much to my family and I also want to give so much to my [business],” said Melissa Holland, president and founder of maternity bra line BeliBea. “It can be challenging to divide time between those two, especially when working from home.”

“Set your priorities and stick to them. As someone who has worked from home, I set times for when I work and I stick to them,” said Sankowich. “I don’t deviate from the tasks. I will always to do other things around the house (laundry and such) but I will not let house chores interfere with the tasks at hand and the times that I’ve allotted for work.”

Holland said the most helpful way to accomplish this is to set aside specific times on your schedule for personal and professional to-dos.

“Dedicating time to one area helps me stay focused during those moments and ensure I’m giving my all to the task at hand,” she said.

Another obstacle to work-life balance for home-based professionals is the feeling of being “trapped” in their own home. If you don’t have any urgent errands to run or appointments, you could find yourself cooped up at home for several days at a time.

“Because the normal distractions are not there, it’s important to remember that you still need to take breaks so that you don’t find yourself working nonstop for a long period of time,” Chui said. “It’s important to get up every hour and stretch and walk around, plus take a proper lunch.”

Christopher Conner, president of Franchise Marketing Systems, noted that people who work at home should make time for personal activities outside the house, whether it’s visiting a local museum or taking a short vacation.

“When you are doing something personal that makes you happy, that’s when you get the inspiration and drive to start something new in business,” Conner said.