One of the biggest disadvantages of working for oneself from home is that home businesses have often been seen as something less than a "real" business. That perception is changing and more people, in a wide variety of occupations, are giving up the unnecessary overheads of premises and moving their businesses back home. Home business really has come of age, but it still has to shake off the last of the legacy of misconception that surrounds working from a home environment.

So how, then, does a home business create - or rather, earn - credibility?

How you think of yourself and your business will have enormous impact on your credibility. Project a positive self-image and most others can't help but believe in you too.

Think big from day one
Behave - from the very first day - as if you are successful, and you will earn credibility. Having and projecting a clear vision for your business, and creating systems and processes from the beginning are powerful ways to enable your business to grow to meet your ideals.

Every business card, letterhead, email message, presentation, brochure, document, etc., reveals to your client how you view your business. Cost is a factor, but spending money on your image is a necessary and worthwhile investment.

Answer the phone in a businesslike manner, dress appropriately, be punctual for meetings, return calls and emails, honour promises and deadlines, and don't badmouth the competition.

Keep family and work commitments separate
Kids squabbling in the background of a business call, discussing a project with a client with the breakfast dishes on the table, or driving into a customer's premises with piles of unwashed laundry on the back seat of your vehicle don't instil confidence no matter how good your product or service.

Quality of work
Be your own quality controller! Hone your expertise, if necessary. Turn down work if you are too busy or it's not your thing, or find a way to involve others to provide a timely, high-quality, complete service.

Charge what you are worth
What you charge will reflect on your business - a business which is thought of as "cost-effective" or "offering value for money" - or even "dear, but worth the investment" - will be much more credible than one which is "cheap".

Build relationships
Above all, your relationships with your customers will contribute to your credibility. Honour the old adage about under-promising and over-delivering, be honest, pro-active, and a player on your customer's team.

This article was supplied by Home Business New Zealand, which provides free information, resources, support and networking opportunities to home businesses

Heather Douglas, Home Business New Zealand