legitimacy of a home officeFriday, February 29, 2008
Brandi asks us this question via the Chat Box:
Hi Liene, I believe that you run a home based business as well - do you ever run into any problems with people and potential clients worried that you're not "legit" per se? While I have my office out of my home often clients would rather I meet them elsewhere. Any comments/suggestions on this?
This is a great question and one that comes up among planners often. Personally, I have never had a client question whether or not I was legitimate because I work from my home. When they ask if I have an office they can meet at, I tell them my studio is out of my home and since the Phoenix area is so large and spread out, I am happy to meet them at a location convenient for them. I have a few regular locations I meet at that are upscale and not so interruptive as, say, a Starbucks would be. No one has ever questioned this and they seem to be okay with it.
I also never offer to meet clients or potential clients in my home. Ever. A few years ago someone tried to break into my house while I was there, so yes, I am probably a bit more paranoid than most about this. I am simply not comfortable having complete strangers of whom I know nothing about their background alone with me and possibly an assistant in a non-public location. I am also not comfortable meeting at their home in the first few meetings. "Wedding Planner Hacked to Pieces in Paradise Valley Mansion" is simply not a headline I want to see!
I do have a mailing address that I give people that is different than my home address. For the same reasons as above, I don't like putting my home address on the Internet for all the world to see. More importantly though, I value mobility, and having a separate mail box affords me the opportunity to travel and run my business from wherever.
Most people will doubt legitimacy only if you give them a reason to. There is a difference in being a professional with a home office vs a hobbyist who is cleaning gooey cheerios off of a florist's invoice. Make sure everything you present to a potential client is cohesive and professional, from your website to the printed materials you give them. Dress professionally; showing up to a meeting with an unkempt ponytail or in flip flops (or, dare I say, Crocs) is much more detrimental to your credibility as a legitimate business than not having a physical office space.
The "work from home" dream is one that a lot of people aspire to and want for themselves. If you can show that you are a successful entrepreneur who is able to work from home, most people will be envious of that opportunity, and not turn it into a question of your credibility.
There are distinct pros and cons to running a home office vs a mobile office vs a physical space outside of your home. We'll explore some of these in an upcoming post!