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Starting, Running and Maintaining a ‘Homey’ Home Business

Raf Howry Merged 2When starting any business, home-based or not, there are a lot of factors to consider: how much financial backing will be needed to get off the ground? What is the short & long-term business plan? What kind of equipment will be needed to get the job done? Often times, the biggest factor that goes overlooked is workspace. Not many understand that creating the proper environment for work at home is one of the most important factors for your success.

We sat down with Raf Howery, CEO of Kukun, who not only launched his successful business from his home, he’s in the business of home renovation including creating the perfect home office!

Raf Howery was inspired to create digital platform Kukun from his passion for architecture and home renovation. It’s an online marketplace that connects contractors with consumers for home renovation and design projects. It started as a passion project from his home office with the goal of helping others make their renovation dreams a reality. He has now helped people with more than 46,898 projects totaling $426,400,299 in work in just under two years.

Q: What was the biggest challenge in deciding to start your own business?

A: Starting Kukun was by far the boldest move I have ever made, but it’s paying off. I left a senior position in a large consulting firm to start my company. I have helped jumpstart twelve startup companies over the last six years alone. However, this was the first venture where I went out on my own. I took my extensive experience in enterprise solutions and applied it to the complex business of the consumer. Kukun delivers the consumer a transparent way to tackle home renovation and solves a lot of the problems consumers have faced like estimating cost and finding the right contractor. I saw a need and I filled it. Still it was challenging to make this jump.

Q: What tips do you have for creating the right home working environment for success?

A: You absolutely need a comfortable space that suits your work style, that separates your “home” from your “home office.” If you enjoy lots of natural light, perhaps a quiet space is most important to you, or an office with room to expand your team. Whatever the values are, you need to make a list and work with a contractor to complete this task. You may want to renovate an existing room or add an addition to your home. A home office should not be viewed merely as an expense. It’s an investment in your success and can actually increase your home’s value.

If you are considering renovating a home office I have three simple tips: 1) Hire a contractor with enough experience and references in building efficient home office space. (2) Get a minimum of three bids and no more than five for an honest comparison of time and budget (3) Be engaged in the process so there are no surprises and the space is designed to fit your current and future needs.

Q: Can Kukun help business owners accomplish this?

A: Absolutely. If you have a renovation project in mind, like a home office, you can visit Kukun and get an estimate for that project in less than a minute. That process is free and you’re given a standard price range for your project that any contractor would give you. We also have an ROI tool, which gives you an accurate return on your investment, so you know what your house can be valued at when your project is complete. Kukun then provides a list of qualified contractors and/or professionals based on your zip code. We rank them by their score. Their score is based on a number of factors including their licenses, insurance, years of experience, online reputation (if they have one), listing in BBB (Better Business Bureau), and if they have references entered in our system.

Q: What are the most important design aspects for a home office?

The most important thing to keep in mind in any renovation is functionality. These are nuances that require experience such as knowing how to deal with dimensions and what is the most optimal place to locate any functional part of the office (wireless or phone connections, electric outlets, etc.) This is why customers hire a professional. Beyond function, no one wants a cookie-cutter space. A unique pattern or modern floor tiling can make a space stand out when having a business meeting. I like to try to incorporate something completely unpredictable that has a uniqueness of character in my design elements, this can come into play with the finishes, paint color, something that reflect your business, and even furniture choices. Never stay ‘in the box!’

Q: What is your favorite feature/features of your own home office?

A: The orientation of my desk.  I have a big window with a view of my garden. I have installed a birdbath and a water fountain. It is quite peaceful and allows me to think.

Q: Two years later, you’ve expanded your team and still work from home. What did you look for when hiring additional employees?

A: I only hire those who love my idea. They have to really believe in Kukun. When considering hiring someone, I suggest you ask them to sell you your own idea. Make sure they are not acting! If they can sell it to you, then hire them. Of course, there are a few main factors that play for me: attitude and aptitude. Finally, integrity.

Q: What advice do you have for others who are considering becoming an entrepreneur?

I think if you are an out of box thinker, willing to take risks, know how to manage your life (including work-life balance) and have a clear and grounded idea, then you are already ahead of the game. My move has been the best thing for me, but you definitely have to way the risks. It’s great to dream big but your feet must remain on the ground and you must create measurable goals. -HBM

For my information, visit http://mykukun.com/.

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