Q: “I am a mother of 2 young children. I’ve been out of the workforce for 5 years taking care of my little ones. Now I am very interested in starting my own business at home so that I can spend more time with my kids. How do I start a new business working at home?
The new year is about to begin. How exciting it is to consider a new career working at home. It can be a great way to make money. But it’s not for everyone.
You get to call the shots and be your own boss.
However, if you’re not a true “self-starter” who likes to work alone or who is easily distracted, working at home in your own business can be a real challenge.
You call the shots. No more getting up at 8 AM to put on work clothes commute to a job, and deal with personalities and bosses you might not like very much.
Your office can be home so your kids can be with you during the day.
If you succeed, it’s awesome! And you did it yourself!
You might consider co-working and letting someone share the burden of the work with you. Maybe you will consider partnering with someone who is good at something that isn’t your strongest skill (e.g. accounting, computers, marketing).
The Not So Good:
Working at home is a balancing act. You will need to work first, while still handling the demands of your personal life. When you are in an office environment it’s regimented, but you’re not doing your housework or chores while there.
Time management can be overwhelming when you’re at home. You say you want to spend more time with your kids but it can be frustrating for you and upsetting to them if the littles ones want your attention, and you’re trying to get work done.
Keep in mind that there’s no formal quitting time. For writers like me, work is really 7 days a week around the clock if I’m not sleeping.
If this hasn’t deterred you, consider that working at home can be isolating, and there’s no “water cooler” camaraderie. If you need structure and support, being a solo entrepreneur might not be for you.
How to Start? Begin With Reasonable Goals:
My advice is to start with manageable goals. Don’t try to be a writer at the same time you’re starting a business, unless it’s a website or Facebook page to promote it. Make sure you have the funds in place to start your business without doing deep into debt if things don’t work out. Startup costs may be greater than anticipated and income may come in slower than you’d like.
Basic Questions to Ask Yourself:
Some of the basic questions to help you decide whether starting your own business are:
What kind of work do I want to do?
What are my interests, skills, assets, liabilities?
Should I choose something similar to what I did as an employee, or something entirely different?
Do I like the kind of work and auxiliary tasks that are involved in this business?
Will I purchase a franchise, work for someone else, start a partnership, or start my own business from scratch?
Can I sell this product or service in the general marketplace, in my home-town, on the Internet, or at all?
Will my new career require training or academic courses?
What are the startup costs and will I have to make a significant, up-front investment in equipment or materials?
Do I have enough money to survive up to a year if the money doesn’t roll in the way I’d like?
Should I work with a partner or partners?
Do I have a fallback plan in case things don’t work out?
After you’ve picked the type of work you want to do, research the viability of your choice in the marketplace. It might seem frustrating if you think you’ve got a great idea and you’re dying to get started, but thorough research and planning early-on can save you from getting scammed, or throwing away your life’s savings on a business venture that has no chance of succeeding.
If you are starting your own business, you will need to apply for any licenses that might be necessary and should have the financial resources to cover business and personal expenses for at least six months to a year as you get your new business off the ground.
The Internet provides a wealth of new business opportunities and many of them are perfect for someone who wants to work at home. Some of the most common involve word processing, desktop publishing, information research, data entry, web editing, freelance writing, and sales.
There are legitimate businesses you can operate, franchise, or partner with. I warn you: do a thorough investigation of all of your options before you choose and sign-on! If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
here are so many schemes just waiting to separate you from your money by promising easy success and wealth. If an offer sounds too easy, it is probably easy to be taken advantage of.
Before You Write That Check:
Make sure that the business is really legitimate before you sign a contract or write a check. Here are some basic ways to help you find a legitimate opportunity:
* Check the company’s address and number. Make sure that they are listed in the book and that their “offices” aren’t just a post office Box, an e-mail address, a web site, or an answering machine.
* Call the company and ask to speak to someone about the business opportunity. Be suspicious if all you get is an answering machine that says: “We’ll call you back….”
* Ask the company to send you material in writing about their company. While a glossy brochure doesn’t signify legitimacy, get suspicious if the company has nothing to send you at all.
* Get references. Be wary if the company refuses to provide any.
* Check with the better business bureau and on Internet newsgroups to see if anyone has had complaints about the business.
* Make sure that the company spells out the terms of the agreement in writing. If they refuse, walk away!
Freelancer? Other Ideas:
Most home workers are independent contractors, consultants or freelancers. That means you probably won’t receive traditional employee benefits and will be expected to contribute to your own social security.
All freelancers and entrepreneurs are responsible for tracking their own income and expenses.
Investigate the costs of essentials such as health insurance before you agree on compensation for a project since you will have to include these additional costs in your estimates.
There are a number of good computer accounting programs to speed this task.
If all of this seems a bit overwhelming but you still want to try your hand at entrepreneurship, why not consider seeking out jobs or part-time work where you can telecommute, or job-share? Many companies are beginning to embrace these types of arrangements.
Finally, don’t forget that you are still “in business” even if you work at home. You must continue to follow basic business procedures, etiquette, image, and common sense.
Once you’ve decided and set up your life and work to accommodate your goals, remember this: If you do not have an office and your connections to others are by email and text, you may need to work hard to convince someone you are competent and can deliver.
Social media and a website or a blog can help establish your credibility.
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