Safe And Sound

Have Back-Up

When a home-office visit is necessary and the client or supplier is unknown to them, many homebased business owners suggest having someone else be there during the appointment, such as a family member or business associate. Johnson says she always tries to schedule appointments with unknown clients when she knows her business partner will also be in the office.

If it's impossible to have someone with you when you have a visitor, experts suggest only meeting in your home office if it is located near the entrance of your house.

Don't lead new clients to an out-of-the-way back-bedroom office; conduct business in a front room instead.

For security reasons, Johnson placed her office at the front of her house and created a separate entrance for it. "Not only did I not want visitors coming into my home and seeing everything I have, I also feel safer in my office because it's not as secluded as a back bedroom," she says. "If something happened, I could escape more easily and would be more likely to be heard if I ever had to call for help."

Experts agree with Johnson's approach and suggest placing your office at the front of your house whenever possible. Not only does it provide security when you have company, it allows you to view visitors as they approach. If things don't look right, you can simply not answer the door.

You'll probably never need it, but a planned escape route is a good idea in the unlikely event that a visit does go awry.

"Just as you should have a mental fire-escape plan, you should also have an idea of what you would do if someone attacked you in your home office," says Green. "In such a situation, your mind is your best ally. You know the layout of the house and can use that to your advantage."

If nothing else, having a plan can put your mind at rest so you can concentrate better on running a successful business.

We don't want you to become paranoid about working at home, but we do want you to be safe. Follow the tips suggested here to make sure that you are both safe and secure.

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This article was originally published in the October 1996 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Safe And Sound.

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