Working from home for some is a dream come true. You do not have to deal with the struggle of getting to work on time due to massive traffic jams. You have a flexible schedule, and you can even work while wearing your pajamas! (Really you can, I do it all the time. In fact, as I edit this article I’m in my PJs lol)
I’m lucky. I started our business from home and it has grown big enough to support an office too. We opened the office mainly because I didn’t like having customers to our house to sign loan docs. Now the office is used by my assistants mostly since I prefer to work at home.
The majority of first-time entrepreneurs will start their business from home. Which isn’t just convenient. It will save you a lot of money on office space rent. In fact, every 12 seconds, someone launches a work-from-home business. There are a few common mistakes made by first time entrepreneurs, that can be easily avoided.
Do you have what it takes to work from home successfully?
Part of learning how to start a home-based business involves preparing for challenges of working for yourself. It requires A LOT of discipline. There are ALOT of distractions. too many distractions at home for some people and they find they HAVE to work away from home. A good cost saving measure is to start out at home.
And once your neighbors know you are home all day…. be prepared to do a lot of “little favors” like watching for packages, picking up kids from the corner when their parents are running late or stuck in traffic. Or worse (to me) the neighbors who are at home doing nothing and want to come over for a “quick” 2 hour visit!
Don’t get me wrong. I love most of my neighbors and I don’t mind helping. But you have to make sure you gently but firmly set limits!
If you are the kind that can’t say no, or you are easily distracted by the T.V., someone being in the house with you, or can’t manage your time (too much Facebook!). Working from home may not be for you.
But if working at home isn’t for you, the sooner you realize that, the better. There are always part time offices and co-working spaces that can give you the space you need to launch your business.
Below I’ve listed the most common areas that are problematic for most entrepreneurs. If you can overcome these, you will save a lot of money that can be put into advertising your business or buying inventory.
1. Your Home Office
Create a dedicated space for your office. Even if you are working from your dining room table. Make sure you keep your supplies, documents etc in a special place designated only for your business. Advise your family to stay away from that area. Ideally, setting aside a bedroom or a small space in your garage is a good place to start. Especially if it has a door that can keep out distractions.
2. Lay down some ground rules
Make your family understand that you will be working from home. Define clearly the hours that you will be engaged with critical tasks. In short, get rid of all those distractions that are causing a deterrent to your work. Its important they know that they can only disturb you if it is truly an emergency. And a fight over the remote control does not count as an emergency!
3. Take your kids to a child care
Yes, easier said than done! Most of us start a home based business not just for financial security but because we want to spend more time with our families. But when you first start your business, you have to really focus. Here are a few ways you can get cheap childcare.
- Barter – my mother has run a homebased daycare for close to 30 years. She has worked out a barter system with some of her clients for things like lawn care, plumbing issues etc. Maybe there is something you know how to do that you can barter with someone you trust to watch your kids and in exchange, you will perform that service.
- YMCA – some centers have “parents date nights” where they will watch your child until about 10 pm (or whatever their closing time is). Yeah, it would be more fun to go out with your significant other. But it’s also 4 – 6 hours you can dedicate to your new business!
- Live in Au Pair – do you have a spare room for a college student from another country? Many foreign students want to come to the US to study, or even hone their skills as a nanny. But finding a reasonably priced place to stay is a hindrance. If you have the room, this is a perfect situation for a win-win. They have a place to stay and you have someone who will watch your kids for little to no additional pay. Use a service to find your Au pair like Go Aupair. Don’t post an add on Craigslist! LOL
4. It is a real business – treat it that way
I clench my fist each time I hear someone say how home based businesses are not real. Did you know many multi million dollar businesses are started from home? Take a look at this article about Angie’s Kettlecorn. This family took an idea, started working from their GARARGE, and created a multimillion dollar business. There is nothing stopping you from doing the same thing! Treat your business like a business, and not a hobby and you will succeed!
5. Avoid distractions
I can’t say this enough! You want to avoid any distractions. Its good to have a dream that you are working towards obtaining. But its equally important to put in the work to make that dream come true!
Most people will only have 1 -4 hours they can dedicate to working on their business. Make sure you make those hours count! Turn off the t.v, put your phone on airplane mode, and concentrate on the task at hand. Distractions are a major challenge in any working environment. This is true especially for those people who are working from home for the first time. Many things can deflect your attention from work. Your favorite TV show can get the best you or could decide to reply your messages. Even having friends barge into your house when you are working is a distraction. Let your friends know when you are available. You can chat and drink coffee with friends when you are not busy with work.
Make sure you have told all your friends and family you will be unavailable. Distractions are a major challenge in any working environment. This is true especially for those people who are working from home for the first time. Your businesses success depends on you being able to stay focused.
6. Be consistent
Many home based business start Jan 1st and close by 3/1. Much like new years resolutions, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak! Being consistent, even when you want to give up, will help you make your business a success.
7. Set realistic goals
If you are also working a FT job elsewhere, have kids, and other obligations. Saying you will work FT at home on your business just isn’t likely. And the more you break the promise you made to yourself to work 8 hours a day on your home based business. The more frequent that will happen. Tell yourself you will work 2 – 4 hours a day. Or whatever works for your schedule. And make sure you do it! Even if it means you get up an hour or 2 earlier than needed to get to your regular job. As Nike says….JUST DO IT!
8. Make sure you are mindful of your finances
There are very few businesses that you can start with little or no investment. Before you buy into that business opportunity or start your own business. Make a business plan. Even if it’s just a short 2 page executive summary and financial projections. Put the time into creating these important documents.
The SBA is a great resource, not just to find SBA approved lenders, but they also have something called SCORE. This is a group of retired business owners that volunteer their time to help business owners grow and improve their business. One more thing they do is provide great info and resources. One resource I found on their site was a financial projection template. It’s well worth the time to download it and use it for your business!