The home-based entrepreneur is rapidly becoming the boom industry of this new millennium. More and more people are changing their lifestyles and shattering the long-held dictum of corporate employment. However, working from home has its price.
Work Spills Over at Home
When you work from home, your entire life changes, including those around you. Your house, which used to be your and your family’s sanctuary, is no longer just your castle. Your work life begins to spillover to your personal life. Your house now becomes the setting of all your paper and computer work, receiving client calls, responding to customer feedback and planning your next business move. Whereas you had a clear physical delineation of your work and personal life when you were a salaried employee, bringing your business to your home now blurs the line between personal and business life.
In deciding to work at home, you should understand that your personal or home life could intrude on your work. Your child may race towards the phone to answer an important oversees phone call, or your dog may come to the door when a client comes visiting. Your husband may politely knock on your door to ask you to go to a dinner party tonight. Or your sister may call to ask for your advice to solve the latest travails in her life.
Loss of Privacy
A greater concern in working from home is the potential loss of privacy. Your privacy is compromised if you are bringing clients, customers or patients into your home on a regular basis. Strangers will be privy to your personal life – from your children and family, your pets, your lifestyle, and even the daily life of your family. If you’re the private type and the nature of your business brings in people to your home, think twice about giving up your day job.
More importantly, you need to consider how your house looks if you allow your clients to come and meet you in your home. If clients come to your home, your home office (and other areas that clients can possibly see) should fit their expectations of professionalism. Clients should always be made to feel that even a home-based entrepreneur would give them the best service! If your house does not project the kind of professionalism that you want to convey (e.g. you have no home office and just works on the kitchen tabletop, or there is no parking) then avoid asking them to come to see you. Otherwise, you will have to take measures to make your house neat and presentable as possible, even redecorate if you have to.
Loss of Space
Your family, whether they like it or not, will need to share their house (it is their house too, you know!) with your work. They will deal with loss of space, as you will need a room or two for your business operations. Whereas before, the children are free to play wherever they please inside the house, limitations need to be set now that your client can hear your baby wailing over the phone. If you use your basement as your office, where will your husband put all his gym equipment? If you use your spare bedroom, where will your parents and friends sleep when they are visiting you? Previous use of those rooms will have to be pushed aside to other parts of the house.
You also need to be comfortable with the fact that working from home is HARD, more so if you are a parent with children. Now more than ever, discipline is needed to push you to focus on your work. It will be hard (ok, make that very hard) to concentrate on your work when you still need to do the laundry, buy groceries, cook dinner, and drive the children to school. Not to mention the lure of watching television, chitchatting with your neighbors, or even the pleasure of sleeping.
If you are the type who loves distractions (particularly in the form of officemates ready to dish out the day’s top gossips), working at home can drive you nuts. It will just be you, your computer, and your paper clutter the whole day. No next-cubicle neighbor to share your exasperation with balancing your books, or a boss to run to in order to share your brilliant insights. The isolation and loneliness of working alone at home can be daunting. Thus, to help you change the scenery, it is wise to arrange for meetings outside, attend tradeshows and seminars for networking possibilities, or just invite some friends out to lunch.
Working at home can provide you with the career you need, while being close to your family. Its benefits can be magical, but to make it work requires careful planning on your part. You simply need to be comfortable with the changes it will bring into your life.