The Cons of Working from Home

I’ve been a home-based business owner for almost six years now. I became a business owner when I quit my job to be a freelance writer and editor. I didn’t realize I was a small business until about a year ago. It completely changed the way I viewed myself and what I do for a living. I enjoy working from home and being my own boss. I don’t punch a time clock, I can work in jeans and a t-shirt, and can take a day off whenever I want. But working from home isn’t all fuzzy slippers and autonomy.

There are some real draw backs to working in the same place you live. For example, while theoretically I am my own boss and therefore can do what I want, I still have to answer to my clients. My work hours can be erratic and inconvenient. When a job is due, I may have to work some late nights to get it done. I also have to plan my work schedule around the lives of the other people who live with me (i.e., my family). As a freelancer, I get paid erratically as well. There are times I really miss that regular paycheck.

I still find that the advantages of working from home outweigh the drawbacks. Here are some of the great pieces of advice I’ve gleaned from countless websites and blogs over that last few years.

1. Carve out a “place” to do business. Whether it’s an entire room or (like in my case) a corner of your bedroom, you need a workspace. Most of the time I do my work on the go. I take my laptop with me everywhere. However, I have a rather nice computer desk with a hutch to store my office supplies, keep files, house my printer, and provide me with a landing place for contracts and other such business items. I used to think having a “real” desk was simply an exercise in delusion. Why spend the money on a desk, when I can work from a chair in the corner? But I’ve found having an area designated to my business makes it more tangible not only to me but to my friends and family who keep trying to talk me into getting a “real” job.

2. Set up business hours. I find this a fabulous idea in theory, but extremely difficult to pull off in real life. At this point in my life, my kids keep me from designating official “office hours” because they are young and still quite demanding of my time. I can’t in good conscience tell my daughter standing in my doorway in desperate need of a bandaid for her cut finger to wait until one of my designated break times. However, when all my kids are in school, I hope to set up a regular work day routine.

3. Have a separate business account to keep business expenses and income separate from personal finances. I’m still working on this one. My plan is to deposit all income into the business account and pay myself each month. This will help with budgeting. (I hope.)

4. Keep in touch with other work-at-home types. Working from home is a lonely, solitary existence. There is no water cooler talk or interaction with coworkers. To stave off the loneliness, I take time to call one or two of my work-at-home friends to  stay connected to the outside world. You just have to keep these calls short, or, just like office chatter, they can eat up too much of your work day.

5. Find someone to help you with your computer needs. I’m not a computer guru by any means. I can point and click…and little else. That’s why I’ve bartered with a friend of mine for IT support. He helps me with my computer needs and I help him with his technical writing and editing. It’s a win-win situation. (Although there have been times I’ve supplemented my offerings with homemade cookies.) Find an arrangement that works for you, because your home-based business is only as good as the technology that allows you to work from home.

That’s just a few of the tips I’ve found. As I learn more, I’ll post the information here.

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