To Work from Home or Not
My decision to develop my business and a home office was not an easy one. Fears of failure, financial loss and homelessness each played out in my mind. There were so many “What ifs.”
I took each one in turn and determined solutions I could implement. Asking for help, learning, and skill development were all considered viable options. The most difficult one? Learning how to ask for help, a skill in itself. The second half of that is learning to accept the help.
Taking the First Step
Your first step is research: learn what works for others, consider you and if you can adapt suggestions to your style. There is nothing set in stone that cannot be changed. Flexibility is key to any plan.
There is a plan. Considerations for making a move to becoming self-employed should include all aspects of your daily life. For instance:
- Financial: paying the bills and feeding oneself. Create a survival fund with enough for at least six months.
- Home Office Needs: what will you need to set up a home office?
- Niche: your specialty. What will you do in your new business?
- Schedule: what hours are you going to work?
- Distractions: how will you cope with distractions?
- Services: what services will you need to support you in your home business?
Questions to Consider
Before you quit your job, consider creating a plan of action. One that will allow for the process of moving from employee to business owner.
- What is your skill set? What do you excel at? Feel great doing?
- Is there a niche for your skill set?
- If there is one, how much competition do you face? Is there room for you.
- Do you have to improve your skills or can you get started immediately?
- What do you need to get started?
- Business Cards
- Home office equipment: computer, printer, fax?
- Space at home or will the kitchen table offer enough room?
- What do you need to do to minimize distractions?
- Can you set a schedule to work by at home and stick to it?
- What plan do you need to create to mitigate contingencies?
- How will you cope with your naysayers?
- How will you cope with overwhelm?
- Who can you ask for help? Advice?
A very important tool to have is a notebook, pencils, and pens. You will want to write notes, make lists, jot ideas. I find writing instead of typing is more productive and I retain information better. I created a work journal.
Challenges You May Face
Working from home is very different than working for someone else in his/her office. The rules are different, they are created by someone else. Working in someone else’s office translates to pay no matter what. You can get away with slacking off, that is until you get caught. Slack off at home, spend too much time reading emails, surfing social media, etc. and you do not earn for the time.
Discipline is important, focus, creating a schedule you can work with. Making room for distractions and emergencies is a must.
Moms and dads desire to be home with the children. The children and pets have a schedule of their own. Good luck getting them to understand you are too busy working to play. My dogs have finally settled into a schedule that works with my business hours. It took us a lot of trial and error to get it right and to help them adjust. Bladders operate on their own schedule.
The other challenge I faced it getting my friends to understand that just because I am home does not mean I am at their disposal. I had to provide a schedule and stipulate emergencies were acceptable reasons to reach out. The next was to define an emergency.
I was the other one I had to train. It is so easy to put off working on a project. It is much more difficult to put off clients. When I scheduled time for me to work for myself, it was easy to allow others to intervene in my plans. I have to keep giving myself permission to feel guilty when I say no. The process goes like this, “I cannot right now, have to finish this project, however, I have time….” That works for all involved. Including my clients.
I am the hardest one to train. I love to play, take naps, and eat junk food. However, it does not pay the rent. After the first few weeks, some rules became a habit that I have maintained. Others are flexible rules and continue to evolve.
Patience & Practice
We can be our own worst critics. In the few years I have sought inside for my personal truth, learning to overcome obstacles I set up, changing behaviors and developing mindfulness skills to improve my life, the one constant is self-punishment.
We learn as children punishment or discipline is the correct behavior to changing bad habits. Mistakes are made, punishment or discipline occurs. Yes, punishment or discipline, they do not share the same ingredients, similar in results.
Parents seek to correct their children to conform to a set of rules. It is a life lesson, one that carries into our adult life. One that I never considered was a habit. I make a mistake, self-punishment. Reinforced by employers who have enforced that behavior, playing the role of parent at work. I know I am not the only one who has had employers rage at them for mistakes.
Our parents, teachers, employers are all role models for us to learn from. What have you learned? Each of us learns how to yell, be angry, punish and on the opposite end to love and nurture. Yet, I believe one of the most difficult is to love and nurture self.
You will make mistakes in developing your home based business, working from home as your own boss. The first reaction is to self-punish, rant, yell, or some other punishing behavior. This is your chance to cultivate patience. For some this is not a challenge at all, for others it is.
Patience, back to the drawing board, and practice. Set up a schedule for your self that is similar to going to someone else’s office. Behave as if you are going to an office, be your own employer. Become the best employer/employee you know how to be for you.
If you slack off, remind yourself, do not punish yourself. Set up a time for personal email, social media surfing, and play time. Don’t forget to take breaks, lunch, and what I like is recess. Find that balance that works for you.
Don’t give up. Give yourself permission to be:
- Angry (irritated is a form of anger)
- Temper Tantrums (make them safe and productive)
Give your self permission to make mistakes. Mistakes are how we learn, adapt, and succeed.
Find the solution that belongs to you. Systems do not fail, people do. You can implement all the techniques, software solutions, etc. They only work when you work them. Experiment and adapt.
For every obstacle there is a tool to remove it. Find the one that works for you. Utilized the freebies, the trials, before you invest. When you do invest and it does not work for you, ask for a refund.
Have a contingency plan. Create a emergency or survival fund for the first year. Many suggest six months, but I like a year of savings, of course it is still a lean spending habit I developed. I read somewhere that you should pay yourself first, at least 10% of your income from your business.
Work it so it matters to you. This is not complete. There is more.
Do you work from home? What works for you?
What is holding you back from moving to a self-employed status?