When you talk with people who work at home, they make it sound so easy. The truth is, there is a large and long learning curve when it comes to building a home-based career. It’s impossible to know everything, but sometimes learning what others wish they’d known can help you shorten your path to work-at-home success.
Laura Spawn – Virtual Vocations CEO & Co-Founder has some practical advice for newbies.
- Set clear expectations for your available work hours versus when it is personal time and share them with coworkers and your family. It is much easier to keep life balanced if you set boundaries from the beginning instead of trying to ‘undo’ the idea that you are available to everyone, work or family all the time, later on.
- Keep your digital files organized. Take the time to organize all of your digital documents and attachments immediately as they come into your inbox. Hunting for a file you received two years ago is frustrating and a waste of time, put it in a safe, easy to find place as soon as you receive it.
Sumit Bansal founder of TrumpExcel let’s you in on the realities of becoming your own boss!
- It can get really lonely: When I started working from home, I was completely cut-off from the outside world (at least on the weekdays). I was used to working with teams and interacting with people, and suddenly I was alone working out of my study. I wish I knew it could get so lonely. To tackle this, I joined Toastmasters International where I get to interact with enthusiastic people. I have also joined some online mastermind groups with like-minded entrepreneurs.
- You got to keep your finances in check: I was used to getting a fixed salary and paying EMIs, but starting a WAH venture initially threw me off the budget. While I was earning from my business, I also had to spend on tools and resources to keep it running. With so many cogs in the finance wheel, I ended up spending more than I was earning. I wish I has known that it’s a good strategy to have 3-6 months of working capital before starting out.
- Realize the importance of time-management and discipline: While I loved the flexibility of being able to work at any time, it proved to be a nightmare. I was working in my business all the time (even on weekends). It got so bad that I ended up wasting more time that I would have had I worked for only a few hours in a day. I wish I knew the importance of time management and had the discipline to work at the right time and get off it at the right time.
Sarah Mullins, owner, Feya Candle Co advises you that you need to break away once in a while for some quality “me-time”
- You need to make your office, making a dedicated place you enjoy and feel inspired in is the key to actually getting work done – not just house chores.
- You need to cut yourself some slack, working from home initially caused me to feel constantly guilty, ‘if I’m at the “office”, I should be working’ I rarely let myself enjoy the leisure and flexibility I wanted from working from home. Letting yourself enjoy some extra time at breakfast, or an extra walk in the afternoon helps you avoid burnout!
- Make time to connect with others. Working from home can be lonely, you get in a groove and don’t see anyone outside your house for days. Putting additional networking events, or coffee with friends and peers on my calendar helps me balance out the lonely with the social and keeps me motivated!
Susanne Whited of My Business Tweets relays some of the harsh realities that you may have to face when starting up your business.
- You have to spend $2,000 to make $1,000. I understand everyone’s numbers will be different and overhead is generally lower for a work-at-home business, but if you want to pay yourself $100,000 per year you probably have to gross $150,000 – $200,000 per year in revenue.
- Business owners frequently do not pay themselves. That “successful” business owner you see spending $20,000 per year on television ads with six employees and grossing $1,000,000 per year likely has the lowest salary of anyone on the payroll.
- You need help. Whether it is child-care for your kids a few hours a day so you can focus on your work or someone to handle the “grunt” work so you can focus on bringing money into your business the sooner you get help in your business the sooner you will succeed.
Notes from Leslie:
There are many moving parts to making a success of a home career. Even in a work-at-home job, you not only have to get hired, but you have to set up your environment to support your work and get it done. The two things I wasn’t completely prepared for when I started were:
- Marketing. I didn’t really understand how to create marketing materials or resumes that attracted others. I figured all I need was to say what I offered or could do. But there’s so much more that goes into selling yourself, either in a home business or in a job.
- Level of personal motivation and organization. I’m a hard, conscientious worker. With that said, when you’re 100 percent on your own, it’s very easy to get distracted by non-work things, or to get sidetracked on unimportant work-related tasks.
To people who are starting out, I always recommend learning about they psychology of marketing so you can create a resume that speaks to an employer or marketing materials that attracts clients/customers. Second, I encourage you to establish a work routine, systems, and an environment conducive to working, and find ways to keep yourself motivated when you find your energy or attention waning.
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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