Work From Home Insurance

Working From Home – Sorting Money & Insurance

When you’re running your own business, it’s vital to spend time keeping track of your finances the money side of things is where many new businesses come unstuck. The key task is to monitor cash flow, but you also need to plan for contingencies, so that you aren’t totally floored if you hit a bad patch. The Internet has opened up new possibilities not just for handling money, but for making money too.

Finding A Good Bank Account

If you are operating as a self-employed sole trader, you may not need a business account, but you will almost certainly need one if you are going to borrow money. Shop around for the business account that will give you the most flexibility and the lowest charges. Internet banking may be attractive for the various added-value services it offers, such as allowing you to conduct credit enquiries online, receive regular updates of statements, and find new suppliers on the bank’s database, as

well as make all the usual banking transactions. Online banking can save time, but if you will be banking cash regularly you need to choose a bank that has a branch nearby.

As with all banking, it’s vital to keep good records. On bank statements, check that bank charges haven’t been changed without warning; that all transactions are included and correct; that all payments into your account have been cleared; and that the balance is correct.

Sources Of Money

While you may be able to get an overdraft facility from a bank, which is useful for tiding you over when cashflow is tight, you may find you’re unable to get a straightforward loan if you don’t have enough security in other words, you don’t have anything that can be redeemed against the loan if you default on your payments. lt’s inadvisable to offer your home as security against a loan because, if you fail, you risk losing the roof over your head. And if you have a mortgage, you may not own enough of your home to borrow against it anyway until you’ve paid off your mortgage you only own a percentage of the property. Start by contacting Business Link if you’re looking for funding.

Government Loan Scheme

Your bank may be able to offer you a loan under the government’s Small Firms Loan Guarantee Scheme, if it feels that your business is eligible and relatively risk-free. The government guarantee covers 75% of new loans. Loans start at £5,000 and can go up to £250,000.

Grants From Public Bodies

There are nearly 4,000 grants on offer in the UK each year. These are provided by all kinds of public bodies, ranging from local authorities and local and regional arts councils to central government and the European Union. Several publications give details of grants. These can be found in any good business reference library or bought from the Stationery Office, which has an online sales service, or try looking on the Internet for information is a good place to start.

The amount of a grant is dependent upon a variety of factors and you will certainly have to find a sum of money yourself, as a grant never pays the whole cost of a project. Although there appear to be many grants on offer, getting a grant may take considerable work. Companies called grant consultancies have sprung up to help applicants. There are various types of grant.

  • A direct grant is a sum of money that is given to a business usually no more than 50% of a proposed project -and doesn’t have to be paid back.
  • A soft loan is made available to businesses not eligible for commercial loans. It may be interest-free, long term, or offer other benefits. it has to be paid back eventually.
  • A repayable grant is usually offered, interest-free, for special projects on the understanding that it will be repaid when the project succeeds, but not if the project fails.
  • Support in kind may take the form of free training, advice, professional services such as research and development, trips abroad for export planning, or something else useful for your business.

Venture Capital

The government encourages individuals and businesses to invest in small-to-medium-sized companies needing an injection of cash in order to grow.

The Inland Revenue gives tax relief to investors who provide venture capital. Nearly £23 billion has been invested in UK companies over the last 15 years. The British Venture Capital Association provides information.

Business Angels

Business angels are individuals who invest small amounts in companies in the early stages of development. The National Business Angels Network comes under the aegis of the British Venture Capital Association, which publishes a directory listing all current sources of business angel capital

It’s best to consult an independent business insurance broker or go direct to one or more insurance companies some offer small-business packages that can be tailored to your requirements. These are the main types of insurance.

Home contents insurance

All your working equipment must be covered and you must inform the insurer if you add any new equipment, otherwise a claim could be invalid.

Professional indemnity

Desirable if you advise or perform a service for clients and the quality of your work could substantially affect their business.

Product liability

Important if you manufacture a product, no matter how modest, in case any member of the public is injured because your product is faulty.

Public liability and third party public liability

The first policy covers you against any injury to the public through your work or in your home. The second type of cover may be relevant if you subcontract any of your work to others who are deemed to be acting on your behalf.

Employer’s liability

Required by law if you employ even just one person, to cover you if an employee should be injured in the course of employment.

Business category car insurance

Check whether your car insurance covers self-employed business use. You will certainly have to pay higher premiums if the business use of your car involves using the car as a taxi, transporting high-priced goods for instance samples or stock or you carry valuable or hazardous equipment.

Private medical insurance

Usually offers the option of private medical treatment or, if you opt for NHS treatment, a cash sum to compensate for lost income.

Accident cover

This policy will pay you money if you are out of work-owing to an accident. Premiums can be quite high if you are in a high-risk occupation, such as the building trade.

Critical illness cover

Protection if you are ill and not able to earn money.

Keyman cover

A popular policy for very small companies where the loss of one person through illness or injury can greatly damage the effectiveness of the company. The policy covers the cost of a temporary replacement employee.

Self Employed

Managing Your Home Workspace

It’s worth investing in quality furniture and equipment so that working at home will be comfortable and convenient. If your work area will be on view to anyone visiting your home, you might want to choose furniture that will blend in with your surroundings and, perhaps, conceal the fact that it’s a work area. Good organization is essential otherwise you may waste valuable time trying to find things.

Make Yourself Comfortable

Working from home is a great idea, as long as it doesn’t eventually damage your physical or mental health because you are working in unsuitable conditions. You should have good lighting and ventilation at your workstation, adequate heating, freedom of movement, room to lay out your work, and suitable storage of papers, files, and work tools close at hand. You should also be able to conduct your work in safety and to guarantee the safety of the public who may visit your workplace.

If you have a room or area dedicated to your work, you need to think about the following:

General Conditions

Light

Working under constant electric light without any natural light has been found to promote headaches and depression. If you don’t have natural light, invest in some natural light spectrum bulbs that simulate daylight.

Ventilation

If you’re working in a room without a window that opens, you should consider a small air conditioner, or if it is, say, an attic investigate the possibility of installing a new window.

Heating

If a room is cold and damp, it will not only affect you but it will also certainly affect computers, photocopiers. and fax machines, as well as any papers you store. Your computer printer will not feed paper through unless it is completely dry. if you are working in an outbuilding, you will need to insulate it and install some form of heating.

Work Area

  • Make sure you have a large enough work surface. Computers and computer equipment, for example. take up a lot of room. Do you have desk space to lay papers down and to read or write?
  • Do you have enough shelving, filing cabinets, or storage -preferably actually in your work area, so that you can access everything easily? If you work with tools, make sure you have hooks or racks so that you can put the tools away when you have finished with them.
  • Make sure your work area is big enough. Can you move around it easily? Can you work without tripping over boxes of files on the floor, and can you open the door properly without it banging into your desk?
  • If your work surfaces are too high or too low, you may develop neck, shoulder, or back problems.
  • Similarly, you will need a well-designed, adjustable chair to work from.

Equipment

  • Do you have adequate power points for all your equipment?
  • Plugging everything into extension leads is a potential fire risk and trailing cables can cause accidents. Can cables be hidden away?
  • You’ll probably need a telephone point and extension in your work area. You might want a dedicated land phone number and perhaps a dedicated modem line.
  • It’s vital to have fire safety equipment handy. You’ll need to know what type of small fire extinguisher or fire blanket you need for any special pieces of equipment you have.
  • If your work involves preparing food or providing therapeutic treatment, do you know what you need to do in order to meet hygiene standards?

It is a good idea to separate your work from your home life as much as possible. Make it a rule not to take work out of your work area. If your work is going through a difficult patch, you’ll be able to lift your spirits simply by closing the door on your workspace.

Health And Computers

If you’re working from home, you’ll probably have a computer. The following points will help you use your computer safely.

  • Fit a glare filter to protect your eyes from glare and flickering.
  • Take a break from working at the computer every hour otherwise you risk getting headaches, eye strain, and posture problems.
  • Look up from your computer every 10-15 minutes and focus on the middle distance, to relieve eye strain.
  • Have regular eye tests.
  • Guard against repetitive strain injury (RSI), a condition in which prolonged performance or repetitive actions cause pain in tendons and muscles. Stop work if your hands and wrists start aching.
  • Ensure that your desk is at the right height so that you can work at your keyboard with relaxed shoulders, with your forearms straight at the wrist, parallel to the floor, and not resting on the keyboard or desk.
  • Sit at an adjustable chair when you’re working. Your feet should be flat on the floor, your thighs parallel to the floor or with your knees slightly below your hips.
  • Make sure that the screen is at the right height so that you’re not bending your neck backwards to look up at it, or bending to look down at it.
  • Try not to use the computer late at night or have it in your bedroom. Computers throw out powerful electromagnetic fields and can disrupt sleep patterns.

Taking Steps To Protect Your Work

Your working area at home should be well safeguarded.

  • Make sure you have sufficient security. If it’s known that you work from home, thieves may think you keep money there. You may need better locks, a security light, or perhaps an alarm system.
  • Protect any machinery from tampering or theft by fitting safety guards and keeping them locked away. Protect computers and peripherals with dust covers.
  • Make sure you’re not overloading power points. See Your electricity supply.
  • Keep relevant fire safety equipment close at hand.
  • Keep back-up copies of all work in a lockable fireproof filing cabinet in another area of the house.
Working From Home

Working From Home – Setting up a home

It’s estimated that by 2020 over 6 million people will be working at home in the UK. Some will be employed by large companies, but the majority are expected to be self-employed sole traders. If you decide to use your home for work, whether it’s the kind of work you already do for someone else, or a new business idea that may involve others, you need to prepare thoroughly.

Making The Decision

Be honest with yourself

Working at home can be lonely. It can also become addictive. Have you got what it takes to survive? Try to answer the following questions honestly.

  • Could you cope with not having anyone to talk to, to bounce ideas off, or to put things into perspective if something goes wrong?
  • Would you miss the social life of colleagues?
  • Could you motivate yourself without a manager to give you targets and deadlines?
  • Do you have the self-discipline to make yourself work, even if the sun is shining?
  • Equally, would you be able to cut off mentally at the end of the day?
  • Can you be organized and keep your work separate from your living space?
  • How well would you cope with financial insecurity?
  • Could you say ’no’ to a client or customer, because the work would overstretch you?
  • Will you be able to earn enough?

You should feel confident in all these areas before you start on the practical preparations for working at home.

Will You Be A Nuisance Or Break Any Rules?

If you plan to work at home, you have to be careful that you won’t fall foul of the law or upset your neighbours. In general, if you’re engaged in a quiet, desk-based activity, no one is going to mind. But you may find that the terms of your mortgage or lease specifically exclude you conducting any business that creates noise, makes a mess, or involves clients’ cars or large delivery vehicles parking in your street. And if you do cause disruption, your neighbours may complain to the local authority, which can take steps to limit what you do.

Deciding where to work

If you are going to function well, you need a proper space in which to operate. It may seem at first that all you need is a desktop for your computer, or whatever major equipment you require for your business, but in reality you need much, much more so if you’re starting from scratch, overestimate your needs.

Whatever your business, try to establish a reasonable-sized area to work in, with enough storage space so that the things you need are close to hand. It also helps, psychologically, to keep everything associated with work separate from the rest of your home: this can make it quicker to settle into a work frame of mind and, equally, allows you to get away from it all at the end of the day. If you can’t shut a door on your workspace, consider putting up a curtain to hide desk and shelves, so you don’t feel work is hanging over you.

In deciding where to work, and depending on what you do, you may need to consider some of the following.

  • Changing or combining the function of rooms to create a dedicated workplace. If you can clear away your things completely when your work is done, a room that isn’t used much a dining room or spare room could double as a workspace.
  • Ensuring there is enough natural light and ventilation especially if you’re thinking of putting a desk on a landing or in an area under the stairs.
  • Installing extra shelving and other storage, preferably some that is fireproof.
  • Fitting up a basement, attic, or outbuilding. Get estimates for how much this will cost and make sure there would be sufficient heating. If your business is noisy for instance if you are a composer or a machinist you might consider soundproofing.
  • Providing safe storage facilities if your work involves hazardous materials.
  • Providing parking facilities if customers will be visiting.
  • Extra plumbing – for instance sinks or a toilet if you are offering treatments or physical therapy. You may need a special power supply for machines, or you may have to make structural alterations to install and accommodate heavy equipment.
  • Access for deliveries, if you are likely to need regular supplies for your work.
  • Extra insurance- If you are investing in expensive equipment, for example, your insurer could insist on extra locks, security lights, or an alarm.

Basic Forward Planning

It would be rash to contemplate starting a business at home without the finances to tide you over the early stages as you get yourself established. These could be savings, or a loan, or an overdraft facility. When working out your financial needs for the first year, take into account not just your usual bills but also items that you may not have had to purchase before, such as special insurance, licences, maintenance and repair of equipment, and so on. You also need to take into account the fact that your heating, lighting, and phone bills are likely to be higher if you will be at home all day.

Once you’ve worked out your various commitments, you’ll be able to work out how much you need to earn. Pricing your product or service may be a difficult task and you’ll need to take into account what the competition, if any, are charging or what the target market for your goods or services is prepared to pay. You also need to take account of the fact that there may be periods when you have no work, can’t work, or want to go on holiday (although you may have to go without holidays until you’re safely established).

Market research is a key part of your preparation. You need to be confident that there will be enough demand for Whatever product, service, or skills you hope to sell. It’s also advisable to have some customers or potential customers in your sights when starting out, and to be prepared to find the next wave.

Last but not least, inform your local tax office. Both tax and National Insurance are now dealt with by the Inland Revenue, so you only need to register your self-employment once.

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