Quitting your 9 – 5 job, starting your own Internet-based business of some kind, and working from home is an incredible opportunity and privilege we have available to us today like never before. And the trends point decidedly in the direction of these kinds of opportunities growing every year, maybe even exponentially. Just think about it, there are people who are millionaires today from the content and goods they produce and upload to or sell on platforms that didn’t even exist five or six years ago.
Instagram didn’t even exist until 2010. No one even knew that IG was right around the corner in 2009. And today it has already minted one millionaire after another, while people who are already famous and have a large following easily bag $200,000 and $300,000 in sponsorship money from corporate advertisers per post. YouTube was launched in 2005 by some of the people who helped start PayPal, and in the last 12 years there have also been dozens of people who became millionaires, many of them very young, doing a job that could not have existed before YouTube.
So there’s no telling how many opportunities are right around the corner that you might not even be able to think of today, because it just doesn’t exist yet, but it’s going to. Today already it is easier than ever to work from home and live the dream, and not only that, but make a lot more money than the corporate bosses will ever let you make no matter how hard you work and how much time you put it in to your job.
But working from home does have its own unique challenges, and to be good it, you will have to overcome those challenges and learn how to manage them as well as possible. It’s the only way you’ll be able to succeed on this path. The rewards are, however, well worth the challenges. Just ask any self-made, work from home millionaire. Here are 7 challenges that you will have to overcome to work from home, and some advice on how to be prepared for them.
Working at an office, in a store, at a restaurant, or in some other public place of business with bosses, and other co-workers, and vendors, and customers, can be a lot of fun for the opportunity to socialize and get a little energy from talking to other people. Interactions with others stir you up a little, usually in a good way, and give you some extra spark of life. Talking with others face to face keeps you on your toes. It’s a real pleasure to see a friendly face, to smile, make small talk, to work together in person on a tough problem.
When you go to working from home after spending years of your life working in an environment like this, you might find that you really miss that face to face human interaction on a daily basis, the friendships, the socializing, the collaborative team work. That’s a hard thing to miss out on too. It’s one of the greatest joys of life. So if you decided to start your own online, work-from-home business, you’ll have to be sure you get some of what you need and don’t wander down the rabbit of hole of being increasingly reclusive and anti-social.
It can be very depressing to be lonely and not see other friendly faces on a regular basis. Be sure to schedule time with friends. Go out and be social every week. If you never really saw others outside of work, find a group to volunteer for, or a meet up group with a shared hobby or interest, some way to meet and interact with others. This will be very valuable to you as you start working from home full time. You can also do some of your work out at a coffee shop or public library on some days just to get out of the house and see some other people.
Too much time alone can really start to wear you down. Isolation experiments have found that most human beings get very depressed when they don’t interact with others for a long period of time. Be sure to be aware of this going into your new work-from-home business. Take it seriously and make plans to ensure that you are getting enough face to face time with other people.
6. Turning Work Off
One of the big challenges of working from home is there is no clear separation between home and work any longer like there is for someone who works for a company somewhere outside of their house. These days with mobile phones and email and everything, that home / work separation has broken down to some degree, and it’s something that companies and their employees are having to deal with and figure out to respect the work life balance.
But it’s not nearly as blurred a line as it will be for you if you start running an online business and doing well enough to take the leap and quit your job to run it from home full time. When that happens, you’ll find that it’s hard to keep the work life balance correct, especially if you’re the ambitious, workaholic type of person most likely to want to start your own business. Your office will be constantly beckoning to you to get more done. Your computer and phone will be hard to put down.
YouTube content creators with really successful channels will give their fans updates every so often on how they’re doing, their work set up, how they’re thinking about their channel and their business, and more than one has openly talked about the stresses of being a driven, work-from-home content creator and having trouble putting work away. Sometimes it’s absolutely necessary to step back and let the brain recharge a little before getting back into work so you don’t burn out and so you don’t start getting tunnel vision and working with blinders on, which can be a real creativity and productivity killer.
Having a good non-work-related hobby on the side and a couple favorite ways to unwind is a good way to make sure you’re doing other things than just working all the time. Exercising every day or every other day is another way to take a break from work and take care of yourself some. Plus it increases your energy levels and is great for your health and emotional well being. Studies on high-performing employees, in law firms for example, always find that when they take a little more time off than they would like to, they end up producing more (in terms of billable hours, or whatever metric they use for productivity).
5. Turning Home Off
Well another potential pitfall of working from home is the other side of there being no clear separation between home and work any longer: For some people working from home can make it much harder to turn your home off and focus on your work. All the distractions of your house, like its maintenance and upkeep, are staring you right in the face instead of you leaving them all behind in the morning and going to an office where it’s much easier to set them aside and forget about them until your shift is over and you go home.
In addition to all your domestic responsibilities there’s also all the fun distractions in your house. You’re used to watching television in your house, hanging out, relaxing, and unwinding. Now you have to work there too, and being able to switch gears without switching places is a challenge for a lot of people.
At your house, with no boss or manager, it’s much easier to just take a break for a minute if your work gets too stressful or boring. And it’s much easier for that small break to stretch out into a longer break. And then to realize you’ve wasted a lot of your morning or afternoon, which can be so demoralizing that it pretty much knocks out the rest of your work day.
Some strategies that might help with keeping your home distractions from affecting your productivity: Be a relentless scheduler. Make a specific task list and schedule out blocks of time to get it all done throughout the day. Something else that works well is having a home office that’s separate from the rest of your house, or a work area with a desk that you always do your work at. When you’re in that zone, you’re in the work zone and the work mindset. When you’re work’s done, you can go back to the kitchen and couch to relax.
4. Keeping Your Edge
Something about the routine of getting ready every morning at a certain time, showering, dressing up nicely, and battling your way through the morning traffic to your place of work just puts you in the right mindset to be at your professional best. It gives you a certain edge that helps you to get more work done throughout the day. The ritual aspect of it anchors your working mindset to the ritual of getting ready and driving your same route to work every day, so that going through this routine mentally prepares you for work.
Working face to face with other people also keeps you on your toes as mentioned earlier on this list. When you work from home you don’t have those same advantages as you do when you are working for someone else, and that is something you will want to be aware of and consciously compensate for through deliberately cultivated routines and habits that keep you from losing your edge the longer you work for yourself from home.
Depending on your job there may also be a competitive aspect to it, or at the very least a sense of pride in doing your job well in the plain site of others you work with. When you’re working from home alone, this competitive anxiety may not be nearly as present and not give you as much of the productive tension as you had when you were at work in an office place or store. You’ve got to find ways to cultivate that yourself at home too.
Just because you aren’t going out to work anymore doesn’t mean you should abandon your schedule and routines. People need those to stay productive and even to stay happy and avoid depression. Wake up at the same time every day to an alarm with your day’s work planned ahead of time the night before. Shower and groom yourself every morning and put on something nice. Don’t work in your PJs. Set benchmarks for your success and loudly and proudly proclaim them to friends and family in person or on social media to give you that competitive edge.
3. Staying Self Motivated
Once you go from working for somebody else’s business to starting your own business, there are no longer any of the external motivating factors at work to help you stay focused and keep moving forward. Those external motivating factors are powerful, and maybe more important than a lot of us give them credit for. Working directly for other people who have daily expectations of you can make a major difference in your ability to get things done versus your propensity to put things off, procrastinate, waste time, and while away the day.
The truth is a lot of people, maybe even you, get things done because a boss tells them to and they are afraid of getting fired and losing their job if they don’t. That is actually a very powerful motivating factor and it pretty much works, which is why it’s the model the world over for how people work. Of course many of us think it’s not worth it. That it’s the easy way out. That putting someone in charge of yourself, and giving them the ability to crack the whip at you, and using fear as a motivation, while somewhat effective, is not the best way to live, and really not even as effective as another way…
What if instead of fear, we could be motivated by love? It’s a difficult path to take. There’s fear of losing your job when you work for someone else doing something for a paycheck. But when you are working for yourself and doing something you love and care about, there’s fear of failure, and that is a very powerful fear. It can make you want to procrastinate and put things off.
It’s fear that works in the opposite direction of the whip cracking kind of fear. It’s mental and emotional resistance that you will have to push through to get to what you love. (And usually what you love is what will create the most value in the world and probably the thing that will make you incredibly wealthy if you push it far enough.) The way to win this fight and succeed in motivating yourself is to sit with the fear, the doubts, and the resistance. Don’t “take a break” and come back to your work. Don’t start reading motivational articles or watching inspirational videos on YouTube. Just sit there, quietly, doing nothing, until the fear subsides, at least enough to get started again. This works!
2. Time Management
You will have to manage your own time when you go into business working for yourself from home. This is more difficult than you might thing. It’s not simply a matter of managing your time on the tactical level by writing up your to-do list for tomorrow and blocking off increments of time to get each task on the list done. Although that it something it will probably serve you well to go ahead and do if you start working for yourself.
In order to be effective and really grow your business to the point that it is making a six figure, and then seven figure income down the road, you will have to first think about and manage your time on a strategic level before you manage it on a tactical level. That means finding the balance between growth and maintenance, expansion and consolidation, lead generation and customer service, filling your pipeline and fulfilling your orders, promoting your product and creating your product, setting up a sale and closing a sale, planting seeds so you can eat next season and harvesting your current crop this season.
That’s what real management is and it’s not always easy to get the balance right. You must grow in the long term, but you’ve got to eat in the short time. Some of your time must be devoted to grabbing the low hanging fruit now and pulling in enough cash each month to stay afloat, and some of your time must be devoted to looking around for the next tree to walk up to when you’ve pulled all the fruit from the one in front of you, or a ladder so you can move further up the tree when you’ve eaten all the fruit within reach.
Former General Electric CEO Jack Welch said it best:
“You’ve got to eat while you dream. You’ve got to deliver on short-range commitments, while you develop a long-range strategy and vision and implement it. The success of doing both. Walking and chewing gum if you will. Getting it done in the short-range, and delivering a long-range plan, and executing on that.” -Jack Welch
“You can’t grow long-term if you can’t eat short-term. Anybody can manage short. Anybody can manage long. Balancing those two things is what management is.” -Jack Welch
1. Administrative Tasks
There’s administrative work to be done as a proprietor of your own work-from-home business that used to be handled by other employees at the company you worked for before taking your own business full time. Now you have to do all those sometimes tedious administrative tasks and keep up with everything that needs to be done yourself. You might be amazed at how much was being done upstream from the work you were doing at your company to set you up to be able to do your work.
It really isn’t a mystery why so many people work for companies. Though it’s not a mystery either why so many are quitting to work from home for themselves. All the administrative work of running your own business might start to overwhelm you if you don’t fully expect it in the first place, and be completely ready to handle it with a great attitude and a high level of self-motivation, and then get really organized about putting together a good system that works for you and keeps your business rolling forward.
Lead generation, customer complaints and service, proper tax filings including paying for FICA taxes, business incorporation, fees, regulatory compliance, accounting, book keeping, marketing and managing online ad campaigns, social media management, record keeping, document filing, responding to email and general inquiries, managing your website and web domain, getting the office supplies you need… there’s a lot that needs to be done when you run your own business and it’s up to you and only you to do it all.
Stay organized with Evernote, Google Calendar, and a good spreadsheet program. Do as much of the administrative work yourself as you can, but anything that you can’t do effectively yourself, outsource online to a freelancer or agency that handles it, and be aware of what administrative tasks you will have to outsource to a professional in order to scale your business and be ready to as your business expands.