Do You Have What it Takes to be an At-Home Entrepreneur?
So, you have decided that you want to work from home AND be your own boss. You’ve seen the commercials with the woman leisurely getting out of bed, taking time to exercise and then conducting business in her pajamas while her happy baby sits nearby. Unfortunately, this is not the reality of working from home, especially if you are working for yourself. Do you really have what it takes to be an entrepreneur? There are a lot more challenges than you may realize. Here are some questions to think about.
Can you live without your Income?
Though many home business opportunities claim to offer quick income, more often than not, this is not the case. You may have months of low or even no income whether it’s a business that you buy or an idea of your own that you turn into a business. If you are going to quit a job to start the business you need to make sure that you can afford it first. While your take home income from a job may be smaller because of dry cleaning bills and gas costs, it is still money coming in.
Use our wage comparison form at Wage Comparisons to determine what your current actual take home income is now. Once you have an idea of how much you are bringing home, do a trial run of living without that income. Put your money into a savings account for a few months rather than spending it. This will give you a feel for what it will be like living without your income and will also give you a little nest egg to work with – or money to use to start your business.
Do you have the up and at ‘em required?
If you are envisioning slow leisurely mornings in bed followed by a hot cup of coffee over the morning paper you are in for a big surprise. Most people that I know of who run their own home based businesses get up VERY early to get as much done as possible before the day even starts. This may be required of you too. Do you have what it takes to get up and get going?
Do you have the full support of your Significant Other?
Does your partner agree with your decision to work for yourself? If you will be working from home you need to discuss what your schedule will be ahead of time. Your special someone may have unrealistic expectations about what you will get done around the house now that you are home. If he or she has visions of gourmet meals waiting in the spotlessly clean kitchen after work he may be in for a rude awakening. Running a home business takes a lot of time and effort. You will still probably be using daytime hours for work – this is a job. And f you don’t work during the day the alternative is working at night. This may take away from time that you used to spend with your significant other. Either way, there will be sacrifices and you need to discuss it up front. Be prepared to negotiate the hours that you will put in and when you will do the work. You will be better off if you both have realistic expectations ahead of time.
Do you have good time management?
Whether you are a procrastinator or a go-getter, you can run into time management problems. If you are a procrastinator you run the risk of missing important deadlines or getting yourself buried in over your head. If, on the other hand, you are a person who gets things done right away, you run the risk of spreading yourself too thin and getting burned out. Working from home means that the work is always there. If you are the go-getter type, you need to be able to walk away from it mentally while it stays near you physically.
Do you have the physical space?
Do you have the space required to stay organized and compartmentalize the business to some extent. This is particularly important if you are the go-getter type. If you are easily sucked back in to your work you will need some physical distance away from it when it’s time for a break. Or, maybe the the television or housework pull you away from your work. Either way, having some amount of physical segregated space can be very helpful.
Can you stay focused?
Regardless of whether or not you have separate physical space, you really, really need separate mental space. If it’s work time it needs to be work time. There are a lot of distractions to deal with in a workplace, but in your home the problem is even worse. You can go in a million directions away from your work. You can easily get caught up in the housework that needs to be done. That pile of laundry could be calling your name. The television is close by, your Great Aunt could call or your next door neighbor could make a surprise visit. But if you have a chunk of time allotted to work you need to keep your focus on the work.
Are you organized?
You need to stay very organized. If you are starting a home business there will probably be periods of time when you are stretching yourself time and skill-wise. Initially, you will probably be doing it all – you will be the marketing person, the clerical support, biller, accountant. And if the business expands, you will experience periods where it is time to bring on help but you haven’t gotten the right person yet.
There will be lots of varying details, all of which need time and attention. Keeping the resulting paperwork and task lists organized will be of the utmost importance. You don’t want to waste time looking for things every time you sit down to work.
Do you have the drive to keep going?
When you hate a job there is still some justification to keep going until you find something new. You at least get a paycheck. Remember, when you start your own business you may have a long period of time when you are working very hard little or no money. You really need to be gung-ho about your business. You need to love it. There will be times when you feel frustrated, tired and overwhelmed. The love for what you are doing is what will keep you going.
What about your kids?
Are your kids old enough to be self-sufficient or do they still rely on you for help? Are they so young that you need to watch their every move? If they are in school during the day then you will have some time to work. If they are still very young, however, you still may need to rely on some form of childcare. Or, if your business can be done at anytime you may be logging some very late and/or very early hours. You probably won’t be able to get everything done during naps – when do they all sleep at the same time anyway?
This child-factor will need to be discussed with a significant other ahead of time. Can you live without your income while still paying childcare? Or will your partner need to pick up some extra slack in the evening hours to give you time to get some work done while the kids are still up? Or, are you going to try to do it all while everyone else is asleep? Any of the options take sacrifice.
Can you deal with the isolation?
Another change that you will need to deal with is the transition to working alone. Even if your kids are home with you you will miss the adult contact that working outside of the home provides. You can’t cross the hall to bounce an idea off of someone else and you can’t gossip over a cup of coffee. It’s you and the work. You may have some contacts over the phone or via e-mail but it just isn’t the same. You will need to be the kind of person that can handle this isolation or you’ll need to be creative enough to find other ways of connecting with adults on a regular basis.
Owning your own business and working from home is a very challenging adventure but it can be very rewarding. Being prepared and working out some of these details ahead of time will help get you off on the right track!