I know, I’m crazy — but taking a pole dancing class with my daughter sounded like it could be fun.
On the first day of the class, we attendees all had to introduce ourselves and share what we did for a living. Of course, I said I was a creative specialist who worked from home.
“Oh, wow, that’s so cool!” exclaimed a fellow classmate. “I wish I could work from home.”
Moments like that always remind me, it is SO COOL that I work from home — and I am blessed!
Admittedly, I’ve been working from home for a long time. I started in the mid-1980s. My first freelance job was as a “stringer” — a freelance reporter — for my local newspaper. Not long after that, I “moonlighted” — that is, I worked at home beyond my regular day job — as an editor. And I’ve been running my own at-home business in some way, shape, or form, ever since — for more than 30 years. So I’ve got experience on both sides — working from home with my own business and working employed in a corporate setting.
And I’ve got to tell you, I’ve always preferred working my own business from home.
Home sweet home
Having your own at-home business isn’t an easy thing to achieve. In fact, in my opinion, it’s much “easier” to work as an employee: Training is usually provided. Your tasks are typically assigned and laid out for you. You have a routine to follow. There’s usually a schedule that’s fairly “fixed.” You know where you are supposed to be and when you are supposed to be there. You know what to do and how to do it. You show up, you work, and you get paid.
Working a business from home is another story: You provide (and pay for) your own training. You figure out your own tasks and how to get a project done. You manage yourself along with your projects. A day is seldom “routine.” Schedules are flexible, and work flow can be unpredictable. Clients aren’t always sure themselves about what they or their projects need and can have difficulty trying to communicate those needs to you. Sometimes, payment can take months — or in some very rare (but real) cases, not arrive at all.
The benefits of working a business from home
Despite how scary that all might sound, I gain so many wonderful benefits from working my own business from home, that — given a choice — I really wouldn’t have it any other way. Here are my three biggest reasons why I love my at-home business and why you should consider working from home, too!
1. Flexibility. It’s a double-edged sword to be sure. The flexibility of an at-home career can be challenging without also applying some discipline. But if you can muster that up, the rewards you’ll reap are great. Never again do you have to worry about being able to wait with your kids for the school bus or picking your kids up from extra-curricular activities. You don’t have to fight maddening after-five crowds at stores. You won’t wait as long in lines at the bank or the post office. You won’t struggle to set appointments for the dentist or doctor. You don’t have to wait until the weekend to run all your errands.
Of course, with flexibility, there’s a give and a take, a push and a pull. If you decide to get your car’s oil changed Monday morning, you might have to work until 7 p.m. that night. By the same token, if you get up extra early, you might be able to leave the office a little early as well. The nature of your services and industry, as well as the demands and expectations of your clients, will determined how you can individually use your flexibility.
Just be careful. Besides the need for discipline and focus, don’t allow clients to take advantage of your ability to work early and often. Just because you can work 24/7, doesn’t mean you should. And also, be wary of the belief that, because you work at home, you don’t work a “real” job. This can be not only a perspective of others — it can also be your own view of yourself and your business. Nothing could be further from the truth. Of course, your work is real! What you do is just as valuable when you do it from a home office as it would be from a company cubicle. Don’t let others try to pull you away from your work, because you are perceived to have “more” free time. In reality, you’ll probably have LESS free time — as running a business, particularly a new business, is time-intensive. It’s just that your time is more flexible and more your own say.
2. Control. Speaking of having your own say… Your at-home business allows you to be your own boss. Now, of course, your clients’ needs have to be fulfilled, and in a more-than-satisfactory way, if you want to keep getting clients and keep growing your business. But you do have control over many things that you would not have control over if you worked as an employee.
You set your own hours. You decide how to best handle your projects. You choose your own rate of pay. You pick the days you want to take off. You grant yourself vacation time. You give yourself a day off to rest if you get sick. You can work in bed if you are sick. You can take a well-deserved break at any time of the day. You decide who to hire and who to let go, and how and when to do so. You don’t have to ask anyone’s permission regarding how the business is going to be run — all of that is your decision.
And most important of all — you determine your own success. That’s totally up to you.
Now, there might be consequences for your decisions and actions, just like there is for any part of life. But, in the end, they are YOUR decisions alone. For some, including myself, that’s extremely self-satisfying.
3. No commute. Oh, the joy of being only steps — STEPS! — away from my office. Dumping those morning and evening commutes means more time — to sleep, to get ready, to be with your kids, to make dinner earlier, and even more time to work!
It means less wear and tear on the car. It means using less gas. It means not paying for parking. It means not having to take and pay for public transportation. It means not fighting with rain and snow. It means not dealing with slick, frozen roads. It means not risking an accident.
It means I can be more casual and comfortable while I work. If I don’t bother to put on makeup that morning — it’s no biggie! And yes, while I definitely don’t make a practice of it, I HAVE rolled out of bed and worked in nothing more than my nightie — but never during a video conference or a Skype session.
I’m not sure I can come up with a single negative thing to say about not having to commute to work. Hmmmmm…. Nope. I’ve got nothing.
To paraphrase Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, if I were back in the rat race of a corporate, on-location job… I think I’d miss this at-home benefit most of all.
But working from home is NOT for everyone
Yes, for me especially, working from home is truly “so cool”! But, even with this all said, it’s important to realize that working from home is NOT for everyone. There are very specific personality types that I believe should avoid the work-at-home model. To learn more about these types, read my article “Is Working from Home Right for You?” by clicking HERE!