The idea of easing out of bed when you are ready, grabbing a coffee and walking 5 paces to your home office sounds great, doesn’t it?
Imagine no longer having to put up with a boss who has ridiculous, selfish expectations. The freedom of being your own boss sounds like Utopia.
Or is it?
Read this if you want to succeed as a home based solopreneur.
There are at least 9 major traps awaiting you if you decide to work from home:
1. Poor Time Management
It is very tempting to stay in your pyjamas and work from the time you wake up. But the lack of routine makes it difficult to keep track of the actual hours you really spend working. It also makes it difficult to achieve any work-life balance. And then there are the distractions of home. The TV is in the next room. Friends, who know you work from home, drop in and don’t appreciate that you are at work.
There are many time-wasting temptations at home that are not found in the office environment. The cat needs attention, The latest home project is in the next room. There is no boss to caste a disapproving eye. At the other end of the scale, there is no “home time”. It is difficult to stop working when you are on a roll.
2. You Are A One Person Team
Humans are social creatures. As Elton Mayo showed in his Hawthorne Experiments of the 1930’s, people are more productive in groups than they are individually. Working from home as a solopreneur can be lonely. It requires much more self-discipline than working in an organisation with structures and systems.
And there is no social side to work, no office Christmas party, no office birthday card.
3. Your Personal Relationships Suffer
Spending all your time at home can put pressure on family relationships. Healthy relationships require some “personal space” from time to time. Going to the office gives you and your family this space. Staying and working at home does not.
4. It Is Hard To Stay Motivated
Many employee research studies have shown that one of the most important factors motivating people to excel at work is the opportunity to learn and grow.
Organizations often offer several ways to learn and develop, professionally. There are often formal courses for employees, on the job training from mentors and colleagues; and feedback systems like 360 degree systems (where you are given solicited feedback by people you select). In a home based business there is less opportunity for learning unless you are curious by nature and make time for learning.
5. Ironically, Achieving A Work-life Balance Is Even Harder
Balancing work with home is much easier when they are geographically separated. The sight of colleagues packing up and leaving for home is a daily reminder that there is an end time as well as a start time.
As a manager, I used to insist on employees going home at a reasonable hour. They needed to be fresh to fight another day! Now, I struggle to tell myself when to stop. Working at home means that there is nothing stopping me from working long hours.
6. Your Self-esteem Suffers
Have you noticed that one of the first questions many people ask you is “what do you do?” We are defined by our work and our position on the ladder.
When you have a home based business, some people will see you as either unemployed or retired (depending on your age). They think you are trying to eke out a living.
7. Go-it-alone Mentality
In a home business there is a great temptation to become a one-man band, a jack-of-all-trades who is completely self-sufficient.
There are 2 problems with this. Firstly, there is a danger that you will become a hermit, so introspective that you become divorced from the real world and lost in a world of your own. And, secondly, business is a team game. Just like a sports team, a good business team consists of players with strengths that complement each other. For your home business, you have to be the captain, the offense, the defense, the coach and the trainer! Quite a lot to ask of one person!
8. You Are Accountable To You!
As a home based entrepreneur you are accountable to yourself. That’s it!
For some people, that means they have the most accommodating boss. For others, they have the hardest taskmaster. Either way, the lack of an independent monitor of personal performance does not help personal productivity. For example, taking care of admin is expected in a business organisation. In a home business, it is often optional.
9. The Nagging Fear Of Failure
A good boss with good people skills knows how to encourage, reassure, motivate and praise good performance. In a home based business, your good boss is you! And, there is no larger organization to support you if you fail, no other divisions to cross-subsidise you and no safety net when things go badly.
With so many traps, why bother working from home? In one big word – FREEDOM. Building your own business is about the freedom to be a free spirit, unconstrained by structures and bureaucracy.
Here are our tips for avoiding the 9 traps:
1. Develop a routine and schedule and set deadlines.
Have set work times and break times every day. Set goals to achieve tasks before morning tea, or before lunch (for example). Use break times for personal activities. Then, you won’t be distracted by them during work periods.
2. Build a network of virtual or casual assistants.
Take time to interact with these people regularly and in person or by phone or via Skype if possible. Recognise your own strengths and weaknesses and team up with people who have complementary strengths.
3. Establish and make time for personal interests.
These could be sporting like golf, outdoor like a walking group or an interest such as collecting or scrapbooking. Having an “escape valve” is not only good for “recharging the batteries”, it is great for the health of your personal relationships.
4. Develop Your Personal Vision.
Many business managers glibly talk about “self-motivated” people as if it were something that some people were born with. Motivation is about having a mental picture of your “dream” and relentlessly pursuing it.
5. Define Your Own Story.
Your story is what you tell people who ask what you do. If you run a cleaning business from home, define your story in terms of what you do, why it is better than any others and why people love it. You have built something to be proud of. Show some pride!
6. Measure So That You Can Manage – Yourself.
Write down your specific goals and keep an up to date spreadsheet to monitor your progress. Be accountable to your spreadsheet. You are the hardest person to fool!
7. Celebrate Your Successes.
When you make that first $1 (or $100, or $1000), celebrate with the family. That way you focus on success and the great feeling of winning, not the fear of failure.
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