Are you wondering how you can choose the best ‘Home’ Work for Success? Working from home sounds like such a dream job. We can get out of bed, grab a cup of coffee, sit at our desk, and never take our pajamas off. If we have to let the dog out, we just stroll to the door. If the kids get sick, we don’t have to use vacation time to keep them at home.
Although those are some great perks to working from home, it isn’t always that simple. There are other factors to consider when first setting up your home office.
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Two Types of Home-Based Business
There are two different ways you can work from home. The first, is to work for a company who offers remote positions. Just as there are millions of companies, the job options for remote positions are limited only to the company that offers them.
Some options that come to mind is computer programming and web design. Other types of businesses that may use remote employees are marketing agencies, Employee Assistance Corporations and Insurance companies. These can be positions that range from CEO and Vice Presidents, brokers, customer service representatives and others.
The second option is to become self-employed. With this type of home-based business, you wear all the hats – from CEO to Janitor. The opportunities for these types of businesses are limited only to your talent, interests and desires.
If self-employment is the way you want to go, you may need to prepare yourself an irregular paycheck and a lack of benefits. Until your business becomes successful, both can be non-existent for a while. If this alone doesn’t stop you, then there is a longer list of considerations you need to make.
Here are some things to think about:
The Psychology Behind ‘Home’ Work
There are some strong pros and cons for working from home. Knowing what you can expect from the beginning can help you make the transition a little easier.
Probably the first and foremost benefit to working from home is no longer having a commute. Rather than sitting in traffic and hunting for a parking space, you can easily apply that time to being more productive.
There are also some financial pluses. Not only do you save money on fuel, but also on clothing and eating meals out. If you have children, there is also an option to have them come straight home from school and save the expense of day care.
Setting your own hours is a bonus. You can schedule your work day around carpooling and other daily necessities.
You are your own boss. Your workload doesn’t increase because someone else is out with the flu or on vacation. You also get to see the broad scope of the purpose for the work at hand, not just a small portion.
For the first few weeks, working from home may seem like a blessing. But eventually, that shiny coin flips, and you see the other side.
The Mental Health Aspect of ‘Home’ Work
Anxiety. Depression. Stress. Isolation. These are just some of the downsides to ‘home’ work. If you are used to working in an office, your boss can easily see that you are being productive. However, when you work from home, the only one that sees you is the family pet.
You begin to worry that those you work for cannot see you are being productive. There is the question of whether or not they are wondering if you are working, or sitting on the couch, eating Bonbons and watching soap operas. This makes you want to push yourself to be more productive. You add more hours to your work schedule in order to ‘prove’ yourself’.
Isolation is also a big factor. You have gone from an active office, where there are other people with whom you can interact. At home, your work is confined to a small space, with only you and the dog.
Even though you can set your own schedule, without some strict self-discipline, it is all too easy to ‘cheat’. Before you know it, less income-producing work is getting done, and your personal life begins to encroach. Or, you just get tired of it all and binge on reruns in front of the television.
If you have pets, small children, a spouse or roommate, distractions can easily keep you from getting work done. Boundaries are shifted out of ‘guilt’, and can be difficult to maintain.
How to Blend the Pros and Cons
There are several ways to work in and around all the pros and cons:
The first thing you need to tackle is boundaries. Your family needs to fully understand that although you may be at home, you also have to work in order to contribute to the family finances. Put a calendar on the refrigerator with ‘office hours’ written in red. Make it clear they are not to interrupt, unless it is an emergency. This is truly easier said than done, but with time and reinforcement, eventually it should become less of a problem.
Don’t Overload your Work Hours
When you set your schedule, give yourself definitive start and stop times. If you are dealing with stress from fear that our bosses feel you are unproductive, you may have a tendency to work longer hours. To help prevent that, see if your company offers some type of productivity software such as DropBox, or send emails at the end of each day that outlines the work you have accomplished.
Arrange your schedule to be able to socialize periodically. Schedule lunch with a friend. Attend a yoga or exercise class. Change your surroundings and take your computer to a coffee house or restaurant that has free WiFi. If you have other co-workers or friends who work from home, schedule a meeting at the park or a library. Not only is this a great way to alleviate the feelings of isolation, it can also act as a great brainstorming session.
One of the ways I work around isolation is through online meetings. I work with other bloggers who help each other to be Accountable and to stay current on blogging trends. We also use this time to help each other overcome obstacles and to brainstorm. I may still be ‘in my office’, but I am talking with other likeminded business people.
For the Self – Employed
When you work for yourself, you have no choice but to wear all the hats. First, you put on the hat as CEO. You are responsible for all the decision making, accounting, marketing, communication and the work that creates a successful business. You are also the personal assistant, the secretary, receptionist, and at the end of the day, the janitor.
You also have to take into consideration you will no longer have access to a fully stocked supply closet. This means trips to the office supply store. Taxes, both business and payroll still have to be considered and paid – even if you are the only employee.
Once all that has been taken into consideration, you still have to work your schedule around your family, a social life and walking the dog.
It takes a lot of time, focus and energy to get a business up and running. The question you need to ask yourself is, can you do it?
Who Are You, and What Do you Want to Be when you Grow Up?
As a child, we are frequently asked this question by adults. But as an adult who is considering starting his or her own business, you need to take this question a bit more seriously. Here is a better way to ask yourself this question:
What do I do best, and how can I turn that talent into a home-based business? What pulls at my heart strings enough to create that perfect musical score?
The best way to choose which ‘at home’ profession works best for you is to determine where your strengths lie. Are you super organized? Fascinated with numbers? Love to write? Determine what you do best, and then begin the search for a company that offers remote positions.
Don’t want to work for someone else? Then start your own business. It may take more time, marketing skills and research to do it this way, but it can be done. You could also start by working for another company, learning the ropes, and then going off on your own. Either way, you could eventually find an income-producing profession that fulfills you in ways you could never otherwise imagine.
Other Self-Employment Considerations
I won’t go into a full list of things you need to do to set up your personal home-based business because there are so many. However, there are two main things you need to do to get started:
It doesn’t have to be a formal dissertation, but a business plan does need to answer the basics – Business Name, Mission Statement, Goals, Start-Up & Operational Costs and a drilled down idea of how you can earn income.
For example: One aspect of my home-based business is blogging. I can simply say, “I will blog.” That is just way too general. Or, I can say, “I will blog about homesteading.” Not quite. A better example is: “I will blog about Homemaking, Homesteading and Living a Simple Life, and how to blend them together. I will write books, e-books and create downloadable products revolving around these three subjects to sell. I will also become an affiliate for companies that best suit the needs of my readers who are interested in these three areas of life.”
Although there are no details about what or how I will do these things, I know each one is a potential income producer, and can begin the research and implementation to do them.
The ‘Other’ Numbers
When setting up a home-based business, you still need to have things like a Business License, an EIN (Employee Identification Number) with your local, state and federal entities, other license, permits and certifications. All these come with a registration number.
Some professions require degrees, education and a license to do business. Some that come to mind are electricians, plumbers, counselors, and contractors. If you want to become a home-based bakery, you will also have to get your kitchen certified and be subjected to inspections.
For more information on setting up your own home-based business, a good place to start is with the IRS.
Another great book to read to see how others started their business on a shoe-string is The $100 Start Up by Christ Guillebeau
Still Considering a Home-based Business?
One way you can test the waters is to do it on a part-time basis. Learn the ropes. Take a class. Read everything you can on working from home, whether it is for another company or as a business. Do the research. Dare yourself to dream of all the possibilities!
Then do it on a small basis. Bake cookies, cakes and muffins and see how well they sell in your area. Offer your services on a small scale to see what kind of reception you get. Then make your decision based on a well-established knowledge of what it will take, rather than on a whim of the heart.
If you still think working from home is something you want to tackle, stay tuned for the second post in this Three Part Series.