Q: I've been a licensed professional counselor and marriage and family therapist for 21 years, and I've been in solo private practice since 1999 and have always rented office space. My wife and I are in the beginning stages of looking into arranging for me to work out of our home. Could you please provide us with any ideas or issues we need to be paying attention to in this endeavor?
A:Your question breaks down into three areas: technical considerations, effect on your family, and practice identity (image). As for the technical side, you need to look into local ordinance and/or registration, effect on your home owner’s insurance, construction, operating costs, tax considerations, etc.
The second, the effect on your family, is yet to be revealed. While operating a business from the home has some sound basis and sounds good on the surface, some people do not do well being so close to the home. It depends on personal relationships, kids, neighbors, and other factors. Having been in an outside office atmosphere for 21 years and making a considerable financial investment into the project, it will be very important that you do everything you can to be sure that operating your practice out of your home is a workable situation. Locating the business in an area of the home that is only used for that purpose and setting rules about work hours and family interactions during work hours are also important.
The third component is actually the most important—your clientele. Particularly in a professional position such as yours, some clients may place an image value on you by operating out of your home. If it is a common practice in your area it probably is not an issue. However, if the professional population operating out of their homes is small in your area, you could see reluctance of clients to accept it. A lot depends on the neighborhood you will live in, your existing clientele, where you get new clients from, and numerous other issues.
Gene Fairbrother, Business Strategy Expert
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