For many people it is perhaps the ultimate dream to be your own boss and work from home. The idea that with a laptop and a cup of coffee you can interact with the world and make a living at the same time, just sounds too good to be true.
But how easy is it to take the plunge and drop the 9-5 (or 6am-8pm reality) and step out of the rat race? In this article I want to explore some of the options that could be available to you and give you some insights from my own journey into the ‘work from home‘ lifestyle.
Working From Home Is A Lifestyle, Not A Job
I have been self-employed for over 12 years now and have undertaken a variety of different pieces of work, all of which have been based from home. The first thing that I wish to emphasise is that the choice to work from home is about changing your lifestyle, not switching jobs.
What does this mean? – Well working from home might not mean more money, in fact it could well mean earning less or certainly having a less reliable income. SO if earning lots of money is the only motivating factor for wanting to work from home, then this might not be the best route for you.
On the other hand if you want –
- greater flexibility in your work,
- to spend more time with your family and
- work on something you really believe in
then this could definitely be the right path for you.
My Story of working From Home
I just wanted to briefly share some parts of my own journey on working from home, mainly because I have worked in a number of different ways and it might give you alternative ideas for yourself.
12 years ago I was a newly separated mother of 2 young (under 5) children. I had just left my previous job after yet another row with management and realised that it might be best (for everyone) if I worked on my own.
I was a community based facilitator, trainer and research evaluator, so the first logical step was to continue doing the same kind of work, but on a contract basis. This worked relatively successfully, but the sector I worked in was very dependent on external grants and it wasn’t a very stable work load.
Lifestyle versus money
As the economic crisis hit in 2008 onwards, I found that I needed to travel further and further in order to find work. In addition a lot of policy meetings and the chances to network were all happening in the capital, which was four hours drive away for me.
The lifestyle choice I had opted for, so I could be with my children, collect them every day from school and have flexibility to be off when they were sick was slowly being eroded.
This is where monitoring your lifestyle goals becomes equally as important as managing financial goals.
The economic crisis taught me that my own country had a very weak economy and that if I was to be successful I needed a business scheme that was more international, and less dependent on the local economy.
I decided to establish a couple of internet businesses, one digital products and content marketing support and one affiliate niche marketing site.
I also took on writing and research contracts that enabled me to work from home, these are with companies outside of my own country.
Learning from Others in Business
The learning then from my own journey is that change will always happen. The decision to work from home and develop a lifestyle was a major goal, and for that I have always remained true to what I wanted.
It may not have been the easiest route but I have always enjoyed the work. I feel that I have spent less time sick, have greater flexibility with my time and can generally have a more holistic lifestyle that suits my needs and those that rely on me.
As I develop my interests into new areas I also continue to experience the same things that most new businesses experience. The frustration of a slow start and the huge investment of time and energy for very little return in the beginning. But the difference is that I know it will be all worth it in the end and it is that assurance and enthusiasm that I hope to share with you.
So if all that doesn’t put you off (and why should it, I’m still here 12 years later and still enthusiastic for new projects), then read on and see what your dream holds for you.
What Can I Do If I Work From Home?
The short answer to this is really whatever you want to do – most internet businesses started with an interest that grew into a passion and became a business.
The only real thing to remember is that in order to succeed you will need to become an expert in the subject, not necessarily straight away but you will be spending a lot of time on this topic – so what will excite you that much?
I remember at college when I started my main thesis, and I was looking to choose a topic to study.
My supervisor at the time said –
"this has to be a topic that will get you out of bed every morning and want to start writing."
Starting a business is much the same, working from home requires you finding the time and making the effort, without any boss threatening deadlines at you.
Do I Have The Discipline To Work From Home?
This brings me onto the second main point, working from home is a discipline, it isn’t something that suits everyone.
The discipline works two ways –
- can you get your self motivated to start?
- can you switch off and take a break?
It can be ironic that in trying to develop a more flexible lifestyle and spend more time at home, you can end up working longer hours and spending less time actually engaging with your family.
Having the right discipline means developing the right lifestyle approach so that your work is something you enjoy and want to be immersed in. Whilst at the same time not losing track of the real reason you started all this in the first place.
How Do I Start My Own Work From Home Business?
Most people working from home need some form of online presence, a way to reach potential clients or customers.
Whether you are planning on selling physical products that you make or buy, or whether you are selling digital products online you still need a base or hub to work from.
My Own Website
Setting up your own website might seem daunting, but with companies today this can be achieved relatively easily and cheaply.
There are basically four stages to setting up an online business website;
- Decide on a topic or product to sell
- Choose a name for your website and business
- Build a website – many people use WordPress as their platform
- Find a hosting service for the website and let everyone see it on the internet
What Kind Of Products Can I Sell?
At first it may be tempting to start out in the business world by working for companies that have a product and selling structure already in place. Many of these companies operate Multi-Level Marketing (MLMs) schemes. Unfortunately most of these schemes are not really profitable for new members and you are more likely to lose money than make any with them.
Although it might seem like a tougher option, setting up your own online business is actually the better strategy and leaves you completely in control of everything.
One option is affiliate marketing where you don’t have to manage the physical goods but refer buyers onto another site. One of the largest affiliate companies is Amazon, which most people trust and know. There are many work at home businesses that just sell Amazon products through their own website and make a full time income doing this.
These types of business are run completely off a blog or web site which can be set up simply and easily through companies such as SiteRubix.
Selling and shipping your own products is slightly different to affiliate marketing and involves creating or acquiring the products first.
Secondly you need to establish an e-commerce website, which is the same as for affiliate marketing but you also need to use a WordPress supported commerce platform, such as Woocommerce.
Many entrepreneurs combine both affiliate and product marketing in the beginning as a way to allow time to build up their own product business.
Where Can I Receive Training In Business and Marketing?
Another potential cost to your new business is to receive all the training and support you need, to make the business successful.
This support can also be accessed on line through discussion forums linked to the products you are selling or marketing training and website development support through organisations such as Wealthy Affiliate.
What Are The Key Questions To Ask About Working from Home?
I mentioned that working from home is a lifestyle choice and perhaps the first question to ask is –
"What Kind of Lifestyle Do I Want To Live?"
Holding onto that dream of a lifestyle choice is important, because it will be a strong guide when you are developing your business.
Sometimes it can be tempting to run after any opportunity that presents itself to you, but remember not everything that glitters is gold. Some opportunities are just distractions and it is important to differentiate between the two.
If opportunities arise that can take you closer to your dream then these are worth considering, however if the opportunity seems to be taking you away from your dream lifestyle choice it is possible this is just a distraction and should be ignored.
Starting A Business – Questions
So far the key questions to think about when starting an online business and working from home are;
- Why do I want to work from home?
- Do I have the discipline to work from home?
- How do I start an online business?
- What kind of products do I want to sell?
- Where can I receive support, mentoring and training?
Once you can answer those questions honestly and in a way that works for you, then the next stage of decisions become easier. – You can learn how to start an online business.
If you are interested in learning more about setting up an online business there are some more articles available on this site.
- How to Start An Online Business
- Why Do Online Get Rich Schemes Rarely (Ever) Work?
- Make Money Writing
- How to Build a WordPress Website
I hope you enjoyed this article, please feel free to leave a comment with any further suggestions and/or share this on your favourite social media channel.