Starting any kind of business is tough. It takes a lot of time, dedication and resources to make it work. But starting one from home has its own special rough spots.
We interviewed a number of home-based entrepreneurs and here are some of the things that they consider the most difficult part of working at home:
You work around the clock, 7 days a week.
Ria Jimenez, who makes and sells various craft products from her home, thought that a home business would simply follow her corporate work schedule. As she finds out,
“One thing I learned from having my own home business is that you will ALWAYS put in far more hours at work than you would working for someone else! When I started my home business, I thought that I would enjoy lots of free time only to find out that working at home can be more hectic than working at a 9-to-5 job. When I was employed, I was out of my employer’s door as soon as the clock strikes five and any thoughts about work are obliterated from my mind. With my own business, I think of my business nonstop, and just can’t seem to stay away from my work area.”
Not being taken seriously.
Other people, even your own family sometimes, may not think of your business as work. They may even think that your business is not a real job. As a result, family members and friends think you have lots of free time!
Ria Jimenez, a home based mom from Arlington, Virginia complains that, “Husband likes to see the sales ringing up but still thinks it ain’t work, especially if he comes home and the house isn’t as clean as he’ll like it to be. It hurts most when friends giggle and say “Oh, you’re so funny!” when I tell them I’m working.”
Free time is hard to come by.
Ria also finds that finding time for other endeavors may not be as easy as she imagined. As she explains,
“The first impression of working from home is the thought of all the free time you’ll have…NOT. My days fly by. I get up early and go to bed late, with very little time for myself in between. I had more free time when I worked for someone else because I had scheduled work hours and days off. If you take days off from your business, you lose money. ‘You’re home so can you do this for me’ situation is an answering machine and screening calls.”
Separating the work at home, and the work for home.
I’ve heard many home-based entrepreneurs complain that it is hard to combine work and children (particularly newborns!). Balancing family duties with home business can be tough: either your business or your family suffers. Some find that their children are probably getting less quality time from them than when they worked outside the home. And they started their home businesses primarily to stay at home with their kids! If you plan to work at your business full-time, you need to get some help to take care of the children.
You are your own worker. Until you start making a decent amount of money (if you ever do) you are your only employee and all the tedious tasks are your responsibility. Bookkeeping and taxes, which are enough to make anyone’s head spin, will be part of your regular tasks.
Tammy Harrison, a work-at-home mom juggling several marketing and web businesses, finds that the hardest part of working at home is doing everything! As she explains,
“I work non-stop, from the minute I get up until I fall into the bed at night. I have four children to care for, a husband to attend to, a business to run, a house to run and piles of laundry everyday! I would probably do this anyways, whether I worked from home or not, but when you are at home all of the time, it’s very difficult for me to feel accomplished unless I’ve done ALL of my jobs well.”
Balancing full-time work with part-time business.
Bill Montgomery, who runs MakingProfit.com says,
“One of the toughest parts is the fact that I don’t work in only one location. No, I take it on the road. I work a (computer) graveyard shift job that allows me some extra Internet time. Although I do have time to work a little, I cannot very well come marching into work with a laptop under my arm. So, I think the hardest part for me is bouncing data and email back and forth from site to site.”
The business can run you!
It’s easy to let your business run you rather than you running your business. Even if you promise yourself that you’re not going to let the business run YOU, but you’ll always fall right back into the twelve to fourteen hour workdays sooner or later!
Plus, the business can easily take over your house, particularly if your have inventory. Charlotte Fowkes, owner of Baby-Cakes.com found in the early days of her business that inventory has occupied a significant portion of her house. When she finally decided to open a retail store, she moved all her inventory to the store and was able to reclaim a room for her daughter.
Noise, distractions and interruptions.
Bill Montgomery also considers the distraction of the family as one of the most difficult aspects of working from home. He says, “We only moved into our house a little over a year ago, and I have yet to build an office for myself. I work out of my bedroom, but considering we live in a ranch, the noise can be stifling sometimes.”
To control interruptions, Carol Halsey reminds others that “I am running a serious business, not just a hobby. It is so necessary to explain clearly that phone and personal contact from family and friends is not acceptable during working hours, (whatever that time is for you), and also what constitutes an emergency, when an interruption is allowed.”
Dressing up and gaining weight!
Working in your pajamas is seen as a positive, but after a while you start to miss having a reason to get dressed. Plus, the lack of exercise and sunlight can affect your physical well being. Terry Baker of Minnesota complains that, “When I worked outside my home I engaged in physical activity on a daily basis. Since I’ve started doing this home business, I’ve put on weight.”
Isolation from other human beings.
Working at home, especially if you are transitioning from a corporate environment, can require a lot of adjustments on your part.
Sean Lundgren, who used to be the CEO/President of Sneetch Enterprises, felt shut in after a while of working from his basement.
“I am a very people-oriented person; very gregarious. So I like to be around and involved with people constantly. I needed daily interaction with people, and it was murder for me to be at home every day and just call people on the phone and schedule things and never meet with anybody. I was dying. When we can have meetings or lunch meetings with people, I was like, “Hooray, we could get out of our house!”
It is not easy money!
Like any kind of business, working at home can be very tough. You will need to work long and hard for every dollar you make. You don’t always wake up to see a hundred orders filling up your email box. It can take months, even years before you show a profit from your sales, and you need a substantial amount of money to invest in your business up front.
The challenges of working at home are aplenty. Nonetheless, even with all its drawbacks, working on the business and career that you love is probably the best thing that you’ll ever do in your life.
Recommended Articles on the Challenges of Working at Home:
- Top 10 Problems of Working at Home
- Top 10 Home Business Mistakes
- Overcoming the Isolation of Working Solo
- When Working from Home is Not Right for You
Original Publication Date: August 2002
- 10 Common Home Office Mistakes
- How to Keep Your Personal Life Separate from Your Home Business
- Work-Life Balance for the Home Business Entrepreneur
- Pros and Cons of Financing a Business
- Top 10 Problems of Working at Home