Now that you have tried some time at home with your children, would you be tempted to work from home permanently? It sounds like a dream but there are drawbacks…
When you are employed, the idea that you could work from home sounds just too good to be true. Once you have children it becomes even more tempting, as it can be quite heartbreaking dropping them off to nursery each morning. How wonderful would it be to be able to see them grow up and spend as much time with them as you want to?
There are of course many good things about working from home, which could tempt you into thinking that this is a good idea. Choose your own clothes and working hours, ditch the daily commute, take a power nap, a bath, or a long walk in the sunshine in the middle of the day? All of these things are perfectly possible.
So why doesn’t everyone work from home? Well there are one or two drawbacks that you need to be aware of before you take the plunge and go for it.
If you are able to do your current job either fully or partly from home, then you will not have to worry about this, but a substantial number of people who work from home are starting their own business.
The simple truth is that starting a business is hard especially in the early stages. There are set up costs for most businesses and profit is not guaranteed and often builds from a very low starting point
To be successful, you need to work harder than you have ever worked in your life, and for scant reward at first. As fast as the money comes in, it goes out again, on websites, social media, advertising and so on.
It’s easy enough to look at the stories of people who run a successful home business in ‘just a few hours a day’ – these stories are all over social media. But very few businesses will start out like that. You must be prepared to take risks, make sacrifices and work really hard. Look very carefully at how long your family could manage if you lost your salary and were bringing in no money at all. Can you afford the risk and the worry about it?
Managing your work from home time
When you run a business, you have complete control over your schedule and you can also set up your own customised hours as well.
If you need to take the kids to school then you can easily work around this and you can also take power naps in the middle of the day as well. If you do your best work at night then it is more than possible for you to do this and you can even hire other people to come and work with you as well.
This can go one of two ways though – it’s easy to do all the fun stuff with your kids, enjoy the fresh air and me time and procrastinate all of the jobs that need to get done in your business. You have no boss and nobody to tell you what to do…. but this is not the path to lasting success and financial freedom.
Then on the other hand you can find that the business takes over a bit. You can become engrossed in it and find it hard to switch off at night – after all it’s right there so there is nothing to stop you from just doing a bit more, hanging around social media longer than you need to because you are ‘networking for your business’ and before you know it, the housework has gone to heck and the family are living on takeaways…
When you are employed, work time and home time is much easier to separate, with often a commute in between so you can switch from one mode to the other. When you work at home, your home and family will pull you from your work, and your work will pull you from your home and family – it’s an endless juggling act.
This is one aspect of running a business from home that a lot of mums struggle with. When you are in business, you are supposed to put your business address on your website and also on corresponsdence with your customers. For many people, it is a scary prospect that they are giving away their home address to so many strangers, particularly when you are raising children, and potentially posting about them on social media.
The simple answer to this is to set up a PO Box or mail forwarding address, which you can use on your correspondence When you set up a mail forwarding address provider you won’t have to worry about all of your business mail going to your home either, and this is another great way for you to separate your work and your home life.
I must admit that I really adore being home alone all day.
I relish my own company and the stillness and silence during the day is a welcome respite from the madness and mess of a houseful of teenagers, but not everyone is like that. In my article, How to Pick your Home Business I told of a friend who studied reflexology, but in the end she returned to working in a busy office because the silence was driving her bonkers.
If you are going to make a success of working from home you need to consider that you will be in one place for most of the day and the evening too. You can find some company in networking meetings and also on social media, but for some this does not replace the watercooler moments and office gossip. I balance the ‘loneliness’ by going and singing with a very busy choir in London at least once a week, and having lunch with a friend now and again, but you will need to find a balance that works for you to keep your sanity.
Doing it All
In addition to becoming very comfortable with your own company, you need to realise that when you run your own business you have to do it all at first. You have to do all the design of your brand , decide on a website and a logo. You have to do all your own marketing, prospecting, research and sales. You have to design, source, purchase and keep track of your services and products. You have to do your own accounting, budgeting, tax returns, filing and paperwork. You have to take care of the maintenance of PCs, printers and office equipment, and deal with tech malfunctions. You even have to do your own office cleaning and make sure that the tea and coffee machines are kept full of essentials….
Once you get successful you can delegate some of this that you are not so comfortable with, and maybe even some of the household tasks too. But at the beginning , the buck stops with you.
So there are 5 big negative areas to consider when you are deciding whether working from home is for you. You need to know that it is not all sipping lattes with your friends, watching daytime TV with the children and having lots of fun. Those things are there, sure, but that’s not all there is.
That being said, I have worked from home now since my eldest child was born and she is now 18. I wouldn’t have missed one single bit of their lives, and I didn’t. I have been to every performance, every event, and allowed them to do so much that would just not have been possible if I were in full-time work. I earn a lot less than I would do in the workplace, but I have so much less stress, and everything works better with only one high-powered, stressy person in the house. We have fewer holidays and have to scrimp a bit here and there but overall it works for us.
Me working from home was the right thing for our family, and I am so glad that I have been allowed to live my life and raise my children this way. The downsides are real, but for me there is so much benefit too.
If you want to see a bit more about some of the things I have done from home, read my mumpreneur story
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