The Internet, and more particularly, the world wide web, is revolutionizing so many things in our lives and the workplace is no different. More companies are using telecommuters to work for them, and, they are reaping the benefits of less overhead. In addition, the web makes starting a business quite simple. The biggest problem for a part-time or full-time entrepreneur is being able to effectively manage their time. Those work-from-home commercials and websites leave out many aspects of having a home-based business. While they tout the freedom and no need to endure frustrating daily commutes, they do leave some things out. The devil is in the details and it’s those things you might not think about that can cause you to fail.
How to Run a Work-from-Home Business
Running a work-from-home business not only takes a lot of entrepreneurial spirit, a vision, and an executable plan, it also requires a heavy amount of self discipline. When you stop to think about it, you’ll realize that having a home-based business means you won’t leave either work or home for the majority of the week. Another phenomenon (read: unrealistic expectation) that you’ll probably face from your spouse is about household chores. When you work outside the home, you don’t take any household appliances with you. The washer and dryer stay in the laundry room and the dishwasher remains right beside the kitchen sink.
Ninety-seven percent of entrepreneurs love or like working from home, according to Money Tips.com’s recent survey of 160 successful Americans who run their businesses from home. Most enjoy it so much that 54 percent of them would turn down an offer of free office space just one mile from home. —Inc.com
In addition to these, the lawn mower, vacuum, and all those household cleaning supplies won’t mysteriously jump into your vehicle. However, your significant other won’t necessarily grasp this concept, and, will wonder why there’s laundry to fold or dishes to take out of the dishwasher. Any one that runs a home-based business knows that chores are time consuming and just because the office is in the house, doesn’t mean all the chores will get done. In addition to this, you’ll be literally surrounded with distractions. It could be guitars, a game console, television, crafts, social media, or any other hobby or pastime that beckons day after day. If you want to run a successful work-from-home business, you’ll need to do the following daily:
- Create a schedule and stick to it. There’s a reason you have scheduled work hours when your job takes you out of the home and to a workplace. Do the same for your home-based business: create a schedule and don’t deviate from it. Let your clients or customers know your hours of operation and be available when needed.
- Get dressed for work. One of the perceived advantages people have about working out of the home is being able to dress down. While you can certainly work in your pajamas or just a tee-shirt and shorts, it does have a strong impact on your psyche, and, it’s not a good one because it promotes procrastination. Dress business casual and you’ll actually feel like it’s a work environment.
- Take breaks during the day. You do this at any workplace, but, when you start a home-based business, you’ll probably experience an urge to stay put in your office or work space to get things done. You need breaks during the day, so, put these into your schedule. It could be a short walk around the block, or even doing a chore, but these should be regular.
- Give yourself time off. Because your work and home environment are one-in-the-same, you’ll face the temptation to get this or that done when family is home. Don’t shortchange your family and you’ll find yourself to be a lot happier when there’s a good balance.
- Get out at least once per week. Don’t make the mistake of chaining yourself to your desk. You can go out to lunch and meet a friend or your spouse, but, be sure to do this at least once per week to keep your professional mannerisms sharp.
Another tip you ought to take is to stay focused on your business. Because you might not regularly interact personally with others, your mind will tend to wander and you might get some new ideas to pursue. While it’s wonderful to be creative, you won’t be able to go off in different directions at once — keep your focus or you’ll increase your chances of failing.
I just had this conversation yesterday with a Chief Marketing Officer who works virtually, and he enjoys the flexibility. We met at The Henry on Camelback in Phoenix. Personally, I prefer to get dressed, and head to my office with focus on my schedule and priorities. Call me traditional, but my work ethic has been embedded into my habits for over 35 years and it works for me. Now, I also find myself logging in when I get back to my home office. So, one of my incentives is to remain focused and productive at my office during the work week so that my evenings and weekends are free at home. It does take discipline, but this allows me time with my family and to enjoy a balanced life outside of my work. What I do like about working from home, is the flexibility it provides me and my family as well as the flexibility in the services that I can provide for my clients. What is most exciting is the business and career opportunities that our technology gives us. Go out and create your new opportunities … and start from home!