With the cost of living quickly surpassing the wages (we make) necessary to maintain an “average” lifestyle, more and more employees are beginning to seriously consider the option of working from home.
Being your own boss, setting and keeping your own hours, keeping all (or most of the proceeds for yourself), saving on travel time and gas, allowing for as much vacation time as “necessary”, it all has its perks. It certainly seems that way, especially for many woman who may not want to stop working or can’t afford to, but also want to stay home with the kids or be home when they get back from school.
But, this growing trend, even with all its apparent benefits has many experts cautioning stay-at-home workers and warning them about the potential perils of home-based businesses due to common human error.
Some of the most common (and most damaging) include:
· Going In Blind: Sure you need confidence, guts and faith to start your own business, but you also need to know what your getting into, and that means diving FIRST into doing the necessary research about the type of business you are interested in starting. Experts suggest finding out as much as you can about your potential venture and about its potential for success in your area. Find out about your competition, note how much they are charging and pinpoint your target market. Rely on books, trade shows, conferences and the net to gather your materials and information.
· Becoming A Lone Venturer: Keep in mind that starting ANY business is difficult, especially in its initial stages. This is the most crucial time for you and your venture and you’ll need all the love and support you can get. One of the biggest mistakes, say experts that new entrepreneurs make is not getting the necessary support from spouse of family. Besides maybe helping with the housework or kids, he or she may also want to lend a hand in your business or at least lend support and encouragement as to work to get things going.
· Leaping Without A (Financial) Safety Net: Most of us are use to bringing home a specific amount of income (give or take) each week, an idea of having a “comfort” zone that most new business owners need to give up say experts. According to professionals, most new business owners won’t see a profit for several months. In fact, they suggest having at least six months (monetary) reserves on hand.
· Spreading Yourself Too Thin: While you certainly want to please the consumer and build your client base, it’s important to remember, that you won’t be able to please all of the people all of the time. They suggest not spreading yourself too thin by creating a mission statement for your business defining your purpose and your goals. Include what your business involves, what makes it stand out, and where you see yourself a few months to a year down the line. And, they add that you should make it a point to check your statement periodically and make all the necessary adjustments.
· Getting Too Comfortable: It’s easy to take advantage of being at home, especially when you don’t have to punch or Watch the clock. But, according to experts, sticking to a regular work schedule is imperative. Keep your schedule flexible (that’s what working from home is all about) but set limits and boundaries that will allow you to focus without any interruptions and be productive.
· Not Having A Space Of Your Own: For some a private office may not be feasible, especially if you’re a stay-at-home parent. But, according to experts, it’s imperative that you designate a specific space to conduct business. It is also important that you have all the necessary office essential to properly conduct your business. Sharing space and sometimes supplies is necessary, but you really should have your own for maximum efficiency.
· Selling Yourself Short: Want to beat your competition (price-wise) is a smart move, but seriously underbidding yourself and your worth may not be. Know what the competition is charging and make reasonable adjustments remaining firm and confident in what your product and ability…and always leave a little room for “play”.
· Putting Off The Paperwork: While most of us don’t enjoy the paper trail that often goes along with owning a business, it’s an essential part of operations, especially when it comes to keeping track of inventory and finances. Make sure to do all you shipping and receiving and related filing promptly, as well as sending out timely invoices. Keep in mind that most consumers take up to 90 days to pay, so you’ll need to bill them as soon as possible. And also, don’t forget to keep track of your own expenses to know what is coming in and what is going out.
· All Work And No Play: Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you never leave the house again. In fact, a very important part of any business is networking. So, think about maintaining your professional appearance and joining some professional organizations that can put you in touch with all the right people….and even though chat boards and blogs can offer you the same, making a personal appearance is ALWAYS a nice touch.
· Expecting Too Much: Considering working from home as anything but “work”. While you may have the freedom to make lots of your own decisions, you’ll also have a lot more responsibility, and that means learning how to manage your time (between work and career) like never before.