Leslie Ann Martin of Cleveland, Ohio was enjoying a successful career as an investment analyst in a bank. When she got married and had a baby, she planned to return to work following a short maternity leave. She hadn’t prepared for a 360-degrees turn-around of her life. “Suddenly, nobody is good enough, trustworthy enough and caring enough to take care of my child,” Leslie Ann said. She decided to quit her job to personally care for her baby. To generate additional income for their growing family, she started a financial consulting business from her home. “It was the best decision that I have ever made,” according to Leslie Ann. “I had the best of both worlds – I was able to continue working, earn a good income and develop my professional skills, while enjoying the flexibility and total control over my schedule.”
Millions around the world are beginning to see the benefits of working at home. More and more people are working their way back home by putting their talents to work. Instead of a corporate career, they opt to build their own businesses based on their knowledge, experience and what they enjoy.
A home-based business could provide the right opportunity for finding success while staying at home. But is it for you?
Starting a business is not something that should be undertaken lightly. You will invest time, money and effort into your new venture, so it is worth taking the time to know whether this direction for you. To help you determine whether home-based business is right for you, here are ten questions that you should ask yourself:
1. Do you like making money?
Working on your own business means that you are solely responsible for your financial well-being. There is not regular paycheck, and new businesses usually take one to three years to turn a profit. A smart entrepreneur knows that a home business is not a get-rich quick alternative. Do you have it in you to live with a relentless focus on the bottom line? You need to be unrelenting in your pursuit of your goal of creating a company with a strong financial base for future expansion. The success of your business is dependent upon you, and your commitment to work will have to supersede all other values in your life. When you have a business, a strong personal commitment to turn it into a moneymaker spells its success. You should be willing to make short term sacrifices as work increasingly becomes your priority. You may be spending less time with family and friends, taking fewer (if any) vacations, or driving a new car. If you are not prepared to adapt to your new life, then a home-based business may not be for you.
2. Are you goal-oriented and a self-starter?
Successful entrepreneurs know where they want to go and are willing to do everything to achieve their goals. If you are going to start a business, be prepared to focus on your objectives. You need to work long hours, be organized, and possess high energy level. In particular, working from home presents various motivational challenges. Without the structure of a workplace, distractions abound while working at home – from your own family, your friends and neighbor, or even the television. You need to be organized to make good use of your time. But more importantly, you must be able to set goals and objectives, with a clear plan on how to achieve them. If you’re a procrastinator or if you have a low motivational level, a home based business is not for you.
3. Why do you want to work at home?
The best home-based entrepreneurs are those who have a compelling reason to want to work from their homes, instead of simply a way to save money. It is therefore no wonder that women, in their desire to juggle family commitments and work, top the list as the likely home based business owners. Others, on the other hand, have strong entrepreneurial aspirations but either want to start their business slowly or lack capital resources; hence, starting a business at home is their only option. But other important reasons for wanting to stay at home include physical disabilities that preclude commuting and an unwillingness to commute far distances to an office. The desire to live a more independent lifestyle can also be a strong motivator to work at home.
4. Are you self-sufficient and resourceful?
As an entrepreneur, you are the decision maker in your business. Hence, working on your own in your home requires a great deal of self-sufficiency and confidence. More than typing your sales letters and making sales, you need to have the confidence not only in making the right decision, but also in not being afraid of making the wrong decision. You need to be the type of person who can juggle many different balls at once and keep them in the air. Self-reliance is a virtue that will carry you through the difficult times.
5. Can your home house a home-based business?
Before you consider starting a home based business, you need to determine if you have the necessary space and facilities needed to operate the business. Check with the zoning requirements in your residential area to determine whether the kind of business that you are planning is allowed. If you live in an apartment complex, consult with the management on what you can and cannot do in your business.
6. Are you sales oriented?
Beyond the creation of the product and the provision of the service, an entrepreneur must know how to sell. Every business depends on sales to grow and expand. Conglomerates have huge sales force, but most home business owners have only themselves to rely on in selling their products or service. As a home based business owner you will have to sell your product and services to your target markets. Don’t expect to hire others to sell for you. You need to develop your sales strategy, brush up on your selling skills – from cold-calling potential clients, perfecting your selling pitch, and making a personal presentation.
7. Do you like solitude?
In a corporate setting, social life is given as you can stop by to chat at the coffee maker, go out for lunch with your colleagues and consult your boss on a difficult project. A home business can drastically limit your sociability, as you work mostly on your own. People who need to be around others don’t make good home business owners. If you miss the sociability of the social environment, you can find new ways of satisfying your social needs. You can either get together with your pals during lunch, join trade groups and chamber of commerce, or become involved in local events.
8. Is your family supportive of your decision to open a home business?
Trouble with your family is the last thing you need when starting a business. By all accounts, opening a business is a family decision, more so if you are going to do it at home. A business will affect the financial situation of the family. Oftentimes, entrepreneurs during the start-up phase need to alter their lifestyles to provide funding for their business. Moreover, the house that your family calls home will be changed with the addition of a business. You might need to use the basement or the attic as your home office. New ground rules need to be established, especially if you have a spouse and children – how the phones will be answered during business hours, or how the children will conduct themselves when they are in your home office. Be sure that you talk to your family first about your plans, and make sure that you have common goals and objectives.
9. Do you have support systems in place?
When we work in a corporate setting, we oftentimes take for granted support services. The mail is processed for us, wastebaskets are emptied for us, computer systems are readied for our use and office supplies are provided to us. The entire landscape changes when you work in your own home business. You will need to tackle several roles by yourself. You will be the sales person, planner, secretary, accountant, wife or husband, maid, parent, and nanny all at the same time. You will have to wear many hats. Try as you might, you will not be able to do everything yourself. You have to establish systems to help you so that support service functions do not overwhelm your principal goals. Remember, your focus should be in growing and developing your business. It is best to prepare well even before opening a home-based business, like making sure you have day care for the children, cleaning help for the home, car pooling delegated to others, outside clerical and bookkeeping help on call, as well as other services in place.
10. Can you feel good about yourself working from your home?
Some professionals cannot imagine working outside of an office setting – without a cubicle or professional office, and dressing in corporate clothes – and all the support and perks that accompanies a job and an outside office. Will working out of your home embarrass you? Some people think that a home business is “small time” and lacks the glamour of corporate life.
Also read the article “Is a Home Business Right for You?”
Recommended Books on Entrepreneurship and Home Business:
- Start Your Own Business, Fifth Edition: The Only Start-Up Book You’ll Ever Need
- The Accidental Entrepreneur: The 50 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Starting a Business
- Entrepreneur’s Toolkit: Tools and Techniques to Launch and Grow Your New Business (Harvard Business Essentials)
- Nothing to Lose, Everything to Gain: How I Went from Gang Member to Multimillionaire Entrepreneur
- Trump University Entrepreneurship 101: How to Turn Your Idea into a Money Machine
- 20 Tips for Balancing Family and Working at Home
- How to Make Better Decisions: Tips for Entrepreneurs
- Balancing Home and Work: The Challenge of the Home-Based Business
- How Do You Separate the Home from the Office?
- How to Manage Disruptions When Working from Home