How to Start, Run a Business From Your Closet

Marilyn Grabowski, who was featured in’s Small Office Home Office center, has advice for anyone trying to start or run their own business from home: Know when to call it a day.

The co-founder of New Jersey-based Atlantic Infra-red, which owns and operates seven trucks with infrared technology to restore asphalt surfaces, started her home-based business in 2002. Grabowski also is working on a second business - Atlantic Infrastructure LLC, a partnership with another contractor in which they offer services such as mill and paving, as well as underground utility work. She is also the president of the Supplier Diversity Development Council of New Jersey, which aims to educate minorities and women on how they can become stronger businesspeople.

Since 2002, Grabowski has worked out of a 40-foot space in her bedroom closet while raising her two kids. Despite the weakened economy, her business has been booming, and she is moving to a bigger home next month, complete with a separate office space.

Here are a few tips that she offers to hopeful-entrepreneurs:

No. 1: Do your homework. Study the market place, write a business plan, and make sure that your daily expenses at home are covered for at least one to two years.

No. 2: Purchase quality office tools once: a good computer, scanner, fax, and printer are a must.

No. 3: Wrap it up. One needs to know when to quit work and close the door of the office.

No. 4: Location, location, location of client meetings. You need alternate arrangements, with professional atmospheres, to meet new clients and employees. (This piece of advice is especially important when working in a small space such as a closet or other room in the house that cannot accommodate more than one person comfortably – that does not necessarily mean your kitchen table).

No. 5: Shut the door. Don’t allow family members in your space; a broken printer or computer can cost you hours of trouble, which may result in a lost contract.