A few years ago, I was speaking at a networking meeting, specifically for women who were entrepreneurs, and when I said that I had my own business, in some way, shape, or form, for more than 25 years at that point (now more than 30), there was an audible gasp from the audience. I’m not sure if that illustrated amazement at how long I’d been working my business or how young I apparently looked despite having done so for that long. It made me laugh out loud — and I’d like to think it had something to do with my looks — but it did make me wonder. Maybe, for women who are first starting to create their own businesses, 25 years does seem like a LONG time — perhaps even too long for some? Maybe. I say that because, having now been there and doing that, I’ve come to realize that there are two sides to the work-at-home coin.
Recognize the pros, but don’t ignore the cons
Everything has its pros and cons. But when gurus are pitching the “work-at-home” model, I’ve noticed that its negative side is rarely addressed. Working at home always depicted as the dream. It conjures up visions of women in their home offices, sitting in front of a computer with a cup of coffee in one hand and a mouse in the other, all the while still in their pajamas and bunny slippers, and of course, sporting angelic smiles — because life had finally become so ideal.
Don’t get me wrong — I completely get, appreciate, and adhere to the idea that positivity in our attitudes and perspectives leads to a more positive life. But if you look at only the pros of a situation — any situation — you might be sorely surprised by and unprepared for reality, and perhaps even disappointed.
In my opinion, it’s this thinking that trips up many people who decide to work from home: the “I-didn’t-know’s” and the “they-didn’t-tell-me’s.” All they heard — and all they believed — was how great it was to work from home.
Yes, for me and many others, there are WONDERFUL reasons to work from home. It’s why I did it and still do it, and God-willing, I’ll do so for the rest of my working life.
But they didn’t hear about the not-so-great things — things that, in the end, can destroy an at-home business.
So, I’ll say straight out: Working at home is NOT for everybody.
Everyone has their own talents, their own gifts, their own way of interacting with others, and their own style of working. All that as a given, assuming everyone fits into a work-at-home peg hole is a mistake.
People who should NOT work from home
So who, in my opinion, are the people that are NOT cut out for working at home? Here’s my list, and if you are on it, you might want to think twice before starting an at-home business.
People who follow. Chances are, if you are planning to work from home, you won’t be working for an employer; rather, you’ll have your own business. If you tend to have a “sheep mentality” and prefer to follow others, go back to Indeed.com or stick with your current day job — because to run an at-home business, you need to be able to LEAD. There’s absolutely NO ONE to follow, except yourself. There is no one to tell you what your next move is or what the next step is, except that little voice in your brain. You need to be knowledgeable, courageous, and decisive, and you need to TAKE ACTION. You are in charge — so you have to TAKE CHARGE! Only leaders need apply.
People who are dependent on others to motivate them and keep them disciplined. The person working at home has to be self-motivated. There will be no one to motivate you and “push” you into your work. Motivation needs to come from within. You must be a “self-starter.” You need to be able to work independently, without direction or input from others. You have to remain focused and stay disciplined to the tasks at hand. So, if you tend to get distracted by the clothes that need to be washed or the neighbor that comes over for a spontaneous cup of coffee and conversation — or any other “bright, shiny object” — working at home will be a bigger challenge for you.
People who thrive on interaction with others. Frankly put, working at home can be lonely. It’ll be you and the four walls of your home office — and that’s it. The social interaction typically found at a job no longer exists. There will be no relying on others, talking to others, or learning from others, as there was when you worked on site at a company. Now, that’s not to say that there won’t be opportunities to get out of your home office, meet people, and socialize. There will be, and really, to successfully market yourself and your business, to stay informed about your industry, and to maintain some degree of sanity, you’ll need to do just that.
However, you’ll have to find and take such opportunities to connect with others yourself. More often than not, your at-home work place will be one of solitude
People with a “Field of Dreams” attitude. As suggested in the movie of the same name, these are the people who believe “If you build it, they will come.” Each creates his or her home office, decorates it, makes it very professional-looking, sits down at the computer, and then expects clients to simply show up. However, you are going to need more than a home office and a website to build a successful business. Marketing, advertising, and relationship-building are all necessary in order to help people first find and then consider your products or services. Time and hard, dedicated work, along with a fair amount of skill, experience, and talent, are all part of the necessary mix.
So don’t plan on business magically showing up. You’ll wind up with no clients, no business, and no at-home career. You need to market. You need to advertise. And you need to physically show up.
While we’ve become more and more a society built on social media, business is still about RELATIONSHIPS. Occasionally, you will you have to leave your home office, get out, and meet people face to face. As Winnie-the Pooh once said, “You can’t stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”
People who dwell on problems, rather than come up with solutions. There are a lot of people who like to play the “victim.” And, when hard times come their way, they’d rather wallow in the problem, instead of coming up with a solution. When you have your own business, you cannot afford to have this sort of mindset. Your problems — and all businesses have them — will eventually swallow you up. You need to be ready to recognize your problems and be willing to brainstorm effective solutions.
We can’t all work from home — nor should we
All this said, please don’t get me wrong — I’d love to encourage the whole world to do what I do and have an at-home career! But I’m also a realist. I know there are people who not only can’t work at home but shouldn’t work at home. We NEED and DEPEND on the people who do NOT work at home. They are vital to the economy. So it’s important to realize and recognize — sooner than later — where your talents and passions place you. It might be at home; it might now. But either way, putting your talents to proper use in the proper place is a good thing. And knowing the advantages and the pitfalls upfront will give you the information you need to make the correct choice and be prepared for what is to come.
And if, after reading this post, you realize you do have what it takes to work at home and want to give it a shot — well, welcome aboard! I list all the wonderful reasons why you SHOULD have an at-home business in my article, “The Three Biggest Reasons Why You Should Work from Home,” which you can read now by clicking HERE!