We all have to start our work-at-home journey somewhere, right? Most start with a part-time WAH and hope that it will lead them to a full-time career. The question is HOW do you do it? These experts share their advice and tips on how to manage the shift, not only increasing your earnings, but also giving you the personal freedom to work from home full-time.
- Act like a professional. Do not market yourself as someone who has a ‘home based business’ or who ‘works from home’. You work.
- Stay focused on your honing your skills, networking with others in your field and marketing yourself as the experienced (fill in the blank) that you are.
- Set specific boundaries for work, personal and social time. You are not bound by the traditional 9-5, but you also must let family, friends and business associates when you are available.
- Specialization is Key -If you position yourself as a specialist in a specific domain or area, it can be a great way of getting hired as a full-timer in a company job. If your company is taking your services for a particular project and finds your unique skill set as valuable to them, they are more likely to keep you full-time.
- Let Your Intentions be Known – It’s always better to be candid about your end-goal, as it reflects initiative. Be open to discuss with the management whether you will be eligible to apply full-time at a later stage of your tenure and keen to inquire about new positions from the hiring manager.. But you need to be tactful about such requests so as not to detract from your seriousness about your current work.
- Try Immersing Yourself- Rather than be lackadaisical about your part-time contract position, immerse yourself fully in the company culture right from the first day as any full-timer would, like attending events, staying late at work, volunteering for extra projects even without extra remittances. It’s the little moves such as these that would prove your long-term commitment to the company.
- Leverage relationships and get out of the house: 90% of our business comes through referrals. For service-based businesses, the best marketing and growth opportunities happen not online, but face-to-face. Join your local chamber of commerce, start attending networking groups (Meetup.com is a great place to find them), and step out of your comfort zone – start speaking at conferences and local events relevant to your industry. Position yourself as an expert in your field. Our best clients have come from personal relationships that I developed by getting out of my house and getting to know other local professionals. Networking is for more than just sales, though. Use networking to build relationships with your peers and find a mentor. Talking with other, more experienced business owners on a regular basis is key to pinpointing areas of weakness in your own business that need to be improved so you can grow.
- Don’t undervalue your products and services. As someone who works with other business owners, one of the biggest mistakes I see startup work-at-home business owners make is under-pricing their products or services. Just because you don’t have a physical office and all of the expenses that come with it, does not mean you shouldn’t charge market rates for your work. One of the best pieces of advice someone ever gave me was to decide how much I wanted to get paid for my services and then to double it – and give that doubled price to my clients. If you’re looking to grow, having larger margins is key, especially if you want to have the ability to hire employees or bring on a business partner down the line. Not to mention, it is much easier to to work with a smaller number of high-value clients than it is to manage many smaller-value clients.
- Be Intentional –The first step in transitioning from a part time work at home job to becoming a full time employee is to make it known that this is your desire. An old folk saying goes something like this; you don’t know until you ask. Have you asked about full time employment yet? If not, it’s time to start the discussion. Making known your intentionality on the topic will allow others to work toward helping you achieve your goal. Remember, the virtual job has a lot less water cooler and hallway interactions, so it’s important to verbalize your wishes so they are made known.
- Be Curious -It’s easy to fall in line with the humdrum tasks you’re accustomed to doing each day on the job, and that can be a trap. Instead, look at how the company is growing as a whole, and where the opportunities lay for you to add value to the company in a new or expanded capacity. The easiest way to start this process is to simply be curious about how the company is doing, and where the greatest needs are blossoming within the company.
- Be Obsessed –Full time employment is a big step for all parties involved. The employer will be trusting you to work 40 hours or more per week on critical tasks that make the company what it is. This takes a whole lot of trust. How can you show yourself trustworthy with such responsibility? By becoming obsessed with your job performance, with the quality of your work, and the quality of the work of those around you. Your obsessiveness will not go unnoticed, and it’s just the type of trait that will make you stand out from the crowd as someone that can be trusted with the added responsibility of a full time remote position.
- Make an after-work To Do list of 2-4 things you can do to grow your business. Don’t burn yourself out, just take baby steps every day. Keep this journal for when your business is full time, it will be fun to look back at all the little steps you took to get to where you are!
- Plan for emergencies. My first year of full-time entrepreneurship, my car died, my laptop died and my dog had a vet emergency. I know saving money is difficult, but you don’t want to be put in a tough position right out of the gate.
- Build a support system. Find other people in your field and connect with them. Find other entrepreneurs. We’ve been where you are, and we love to help each other out!
- Treat your part time job like a career. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard someone say “Oh, I just work part time,” I’d be a very rich woman.
- Like any other savvy careerist, have a crisp, compelling elevator pitch at the ready, and be prepared to speak passionately, not apologetically, about what you do.
- Once your work at home income exceeds your expenses and allows you to save – and it does for this for a minimum of 6 months. Then that’s an indicator that you can kick your current full time job to the curb and focus on your new full time WAH job.
- Make sure you do not let your WAH job overtake your life, as that can easily happen. Instead treat it like a normal job, start at 8am and clock off at 4 or 5pm. On the other hand the opposite might happen, your life may overtake your work – this is equally bad as your work and then income will suffer eventually. Remember balance is key.
- Start networking with others in your industry. Join seminars, talks and expos to expand your network. This network will be your support system as those in the same industry will face the similar challenges and rewards as you do and it will be good for you to compare notes.
- Know if you cannot create results part time, you probably cannot create results full time. Time Management is way more important than time abundance. When I was starting my work at home career I had a full time job in corporate world but I studied and worked on my WAH career on every break and at lunchtime. You have to spend your available time doing profit producing activities. If you mismanage your available time when you have a small amount of it, you will also waste time when you have more of it.
- Starting your business is often the hardest part. When we first started working from home I was blogging and doing all kinds of things that were not generating any results. By being consistent and staying on track we were able to start generating results but if I analyzed my return on my hours early on, it made no sense.
- Free is your most expensive option. Yes, you can google and find out all kinds of business advice, information and suggestions, however, often these free resources conflict each other or leave out crucial information that could really help you. Working from home is usually a low cost business but not a NO cost business. Investing in courses, mentors and coaches is what helped us build our work from home business into an Inc 5000 company (2016).
Note from Leslie:
All these suggestions are spot on, so be sure to read them again. I have a few additions. When it comes to building a home-based career around your current job and life, the two big hurdles are time and persistence. You’re life is probably already full, and building a side income that can grow into a full-time income requires time. Learning to focus on the tasks that move you forward in your goal (i.e. marketing over filing), will allow to get more done in less time. A schedule and routine insures you’ll be consistent in your action.
Because you’re working your home-career part-time, it can take longer to see results, which can lead to feelings of frustration and failure. You need a plan to motivate yourself even when you feel down and ready to give up. Action is the best remedy when you’re feeling like your work-at-home effort is going nowhere.
Leslie Truex is an ideaphoric writer, speaker, entrepreneur, social worker and mom trying to do it all from the comfort of her home. Since 1998, she's been helping others create careers they love by providing work-at-home information and resources through Work-At-Home Success.
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