Starting and running your own home based business is an exciting and fulfilling achievement. Not many people get to become their own boss, and it can sometimes seem like the perfect situation.
I’ve spent a fair amount of time launching my own web publishing business from home and although it is one the best things I’ve ever done, it’s not always sunshine and rainbows!
There are some tough challenges that all home businesses face and it’s good to be aware of them in advance so that you can overcome there.
Here are five of the most important challenges I’ve faced when working from home:
- Illness. When you work for a company, one of the perks is that you get sick pay. If you’re ill, you are covered in most cases for a fairly lengthy period. When working from home, one or two days off could mean you miss out on potentially valuable business or miss tasks that are essential to the running of your company.
Illness is inevitable at some point, but there are things you can do to overcome it. First, you need excellent health insurance to cover you and your business if you end up with a long term illness that seriously affects you ability to work. This gives you the peace of mind to focus on other tasks. Second, have a back up if you do get ill. There are some excellent virtual assistant companies out there that you can hire on a short term basis to step in and complete the tasks you are unable to. Check out Zirtual.com for one example of this type of company that is very successful and has excellent US based assistants.
- Boredom. Working from home can often lead to boredom because you have to do everything yourself. You may not like filing your taxes, dealing with health insurance providers or chasing unpaid invoices, but these are essential tasks. In a company, different departments would handle these tasks but for a home business it’s all on you.
The best way to overcome this is to first prioritize your work and then split them into blocks of time. You can introduce the more interesting tasks in between the boring ones to keep your motivation levels high. Also, taking regular breaks to get some fresh air and time away from the computer will keep you fresh for the less than awesome tasks (I’m still working on this one myself!).
- Productivity. Being your own boss means setting your own schedule, but it can be very easy to procrastinate instead of working. Thinking about what you plan to do is not doing it and falling into that habit in your home business is a recipe for disaster.
You should already have prioritized your tasks so this will create your to-do list. Next is to remove any distractions (Twitter, Facebook, email etc) to allow you to focus on your work. Another good strategy is to set a timer for 30 minutes and aim to work throughout that time. It seems simple, but the time-focus really allows you to concentrate and keep on task. Separate each block of work with fresh air and/or a little exercise and repeat. 🙂
- Social interaction. This is a biggie. You might feel isolated and alone when working from home, even if you previously worked in a quiet office. This can lead to boredom and lack of productivity and, even more dangerously, it can lead to unhappiness in your business too.
Here’s how you overcome it: get out there and meet people. Whether you meet friends or family on their lunch hour, or you use MeetUp.com to find like minded people in your city, you need to replace that social interaction. I personally like to be alone, but when working from home for sustained periods, my work suffered because I had no one to share my successes with and nobody to help me through my failures – meeting people is the best way to avoid this.
- Switching off. The problem with a home based business is that it can be hard to make the distinction with home/family time and business time. You could potentially be dealing with business issues morning, day and night. Not only can this work you into the ground, it will also have a negative impact on your relationship with your family.
Try to limit email checking to twice per day: 1pm and 5pm (Checking email first thing is the standard but it can damage productivity if you spend the first hour replying to email). Also, have your home office separate from the rest of the house so that when that office door is closed, you’re working, and when you’re with the family, you’re not. I like to dress professionally while in my office as well to condition myself that this is work time. When I finish, I can put more comfortable clothes on, relax on the sofa and spend time with the family. These are simple things but help to promote the right mindset to work from home successfully.
It’s not all doom and gloom though! Overcoming these issues is often very simple and comes down to planning and a change to your mindset. Once you do this, working from home is a tremendously rewarding career path that gives you freedom and flexibility you simply can’t get from a desk job.
About the author: Ian Nuttall is a finance blogger and home business owner who still checks his email more than he should! To find out more you can visit his most recent article Debt Consolidation Loan Guide or follow him on Twitter.