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Working from home is a serious business!

“Now you’re not working, you’ll be able to bother with us more.”

These were the words from my ageing Father as I told him that I had given up my employed office job to concentrate on my own business. I would be working from home. To him, this meant that I’d be able to make more frequent trips down to Devon, a 210 mile round-tri to where my parents had decided to retire away from family.

My story

Following my break-up, I’d been juggling a number of part-time, salaried jobs and running a business from home. My home business was growing, and the time had come to either give up the idea or to stick with employed work.

By the time I came to the point of deciding, I had a wonderful partner and he was backing me. He assured me that he’d support me in the initial period of having only a small income. It would be my period of growth. I knew that the time had come to either build the business or just forget the idea and drop it. Working 40 hours a week paid as an employee and around 30 hours in my own business just wasn’t healthy; I was exhausted and my relationships with my children and partner were suffering as a result of too much work.

I did it, I jumped

The reaction from friends and family was weird and I found that my work was no longer taken seriously. I was regularly told how lucky I was that my partner was supporting me in my “dream”. Yes, it has always been a dream to get my own business off the ground but working on it full-time was far from a fairy-tale. For sure, he is fabulous, but jumping into the financial unknown was not easy for me. I’m fiercely independent, and I definitely didn’t want a man to be my prop for long;

I had swallowed my pride to get to the point where I allowed him to hold-me-up for a few months money-wise. As I’d been stung financially by my ex, I wasn’t comfortable potentially giving up paid employed work to have to go cap in hand to my partner. I knew that I had to stop looking at the situation with my ex as it was controlling the future. I had to see this relationship with different eyes and a new mindset. Here was a man, standing in front of me saying that he believed in me and my business. It showed me that he wanted me to be independent, something my ex never wanted me to be.

working from home requires self-motivation

I am part of the sandwich-society and by that, I mean I have young children and ageing parents, with me being the sandwich “filling”.

There’s only one of me!

Apart from my partner, it’s just me with the kids pulling for my attention from one side, and my parents (I feel) guilt-tripping me into supporting them from the other. Don’t get me wrong, I would LOVE to give everyone my full support, but there is just me; I only have so much time in the day.

Now that I work from home, friends comment that my life must be much “easier” since I was able to leave regular paid employment. It makes me laugh as it is quite the opposite.

Why it isn’t easy!

  • Every day of the week I must worry about making sales to literally put food on the table.
  • My stress levels have increased as I only have myself to blame if there is no food on the table.
  • I don’t have set hours, so I must to manage my time and do my own tax etc; that’s a chore!
  • I am more accountable as a person as it’s just me!
  • My partner is supporting me, and I want to show him that I can do this; it’s my personality to prove my worth!
  • I also have to remember to take time-off, and that is difficult.
  • I’ve had to learn to say “no”(and I find that super tricky). When I had a paid job, no one asked me to do “this or that” as I had an employer. As I am now my own employer, people’s expectations of me have changed and I have had to set boundaries.

Now, this is all sounding a little negative and it’s not meant to. I absolutely adore working from home as although I must set limits for other people, I enjoy the freedom of not going into the office. If one of my children has a match at school, I can plan for that and head to the playing field for the afternoon. I just catch-up with admin work in the evening or weekend if needed. I work super-hard, so the odd few-hours off here and there doesn’t matter. It is flexible if I plan.

I love that I never have to sit in traffic as it can be such a waste of time. Working from home probably gives me an extra two hours a day of productivity.

The changes I’ve made

In recent months I’ve become more disciplined with friends and family. I’ve started to say “no” because my life goals have to be my priority. I can’t blame others for my under-achievement purely because I’m unable to decline an invitation. Working with a coach has really helped.

The best thing is the work/life balance I’m now able to achieve. I’m even factoring-in the odd breakfast with friends. I had some limiting beliefs which I have now mostly eradicated and my organisational skills have greatly improved.

By a Group Hug Blogger

What do others working from home have to say?

It can be very lonely working and living alone. I had recently split with my wife when I got a new job which involved working from home. I only saw my kids every other weekend. I’m an Account Manager and although I saw customers several times a week, it was “work”. I found myself going to the pub “early doors” every day, just to have a conversation which was not about work. I have a partner now and no longer feel lonely, but it was tough at the beginning and I often felt depressed.

Steve – 52 – Surrey

You must have the ability to be able to stop working, pack away and close the home office door to signal the end of the working day. I truly believe that if you can relax for a few hours every day, you will be more productive. Just because you work from home, doesn’t mean you can’t have a burn-out, so be strict with yourself in terms of not-working too!

David – 48 – Greater Manchester

I find it difficult to have a holiday as it’s my own business. I know I must work on this. Maybe I need to put some money into a savings account every month which I will call my “holiday pay”?

Sue – 47 – Northamptonshire

Karen Peters – Business Coach

Having spent most of my life stuck in an office, I always wanted a business that I could do from home. 

However, I also recognise that depending on your business means you may not be able to work from home. That said, if you are the owner of a business and you employ people and need work premises, then ask yourself if you really need to be in the workplace? Or can you just nip in and check that everyone is happy? A good book to change your mindset and offer you a better way of running a business from a premises is “The E Myth” by Michael E Gerber. here are some links.

Working from home is never to be considered a ‘mickey mouse’ business. For me, and many other business owners like me, there are many advantages along with some mindset challenges that I had to address. So here are my thoughts and the disciplines I put in place: –

Advantages

  • Saves money –  Renting an office is an ongoing cost and when you work from home you can offset some of your tax against it (cash back!)
  • Flexibility – I don’t need to see my clients face to face and everything is done over the phone or internet. This allows me to be flexible so I can work the hours that suits both myself and my clients.
  • Any location – If I take a holiday, for my valued clients I can still be available to them if they need me
  • My business moves with me – If my family want to move to a new house, then I’m not worried about driving miles to my workplace or stressing about logistics
  • No driving to work – No traffic delays, save on petrol and the environment.
  • Work-life balance – as long as I adhere to my own motivation advice below, I have a great work-life balance.
  • Happy – when you’re happy in your place of work, your soul is happy, your clients are happy and if you employ staff they are happy too.

Motivation

  • You do need a place in the home which does feel like a quiet working environment – otherwise you will get distracted. A spare room, even a large shed in the garden will do.
  • Make sure that your family acknowledge that this place is your workplace, and when you are in there you are not to be distracted, unless in an emergency.
  • Make sure the first thing you do is not to check your emails, otherwise before you know it 3 hours have passed. This comes from our ‘being employed’ days, when the first thing we do at work is check our emails.
  • Likewise stay away from social media for a few hours as well. You have to be disciplined and not distracted. 
  • The day before, write down the 3 most important tasked that will move you towards your goals for the next day. Work on these first thing before checking emails or social media. When you write these down the day before you’ll find you’ll sleep better. And when you complete your tasks you will also feel better.
  • Don’t do jobs you hate, give them to a Virtual Assistant or pay someone else to do them for you. Only do the tasks/jobs that will help you towards making money. Everything else, give to someone else. It frees your mind and declutters your business.

My thoughts…….

I think running a business from home is subjective and offers a different perception. 

working from home cake making
photo by Holly Stratton

Some people think it will make them look like they have a professional business if they have business premises. But this is just a belief system based on being employed or the beliefs of other people. I remember a few years ago when listening to a Brian Tracy online business training course where he actually encourages you to work from home when starting out and not to make unnecessary purchases until you are in a position to actually need business premises. He’s talks about finding secondhand furniture rather than buying new office furniture, all good advice. In fact, he points out that the richest people are more likely to drive 2nd hand cars!

If anyone thinks by working at home you can’t be running a serious business, then take a good look at our very own and very lovely Richard Branson. He started his first business making phone calls from a call box and that’s only because he didn’t have a phone at home. In fact, he says he has never worked out of an office in his life, and he’s very well respected businessman.

Conclusion: If you can set up a business that you can run from home it’s flexible and saves money. 

Find out more about Karen in The Hug Directory

I’m making it work for me…

I’ve found that understanding my own work rhythm has enabled me to do specific tasks when I’m most productive. So, for instance, having a wellbeing routine first thing in the morning that includes journalling, a walk and a calm breakfast – and that sets me up for the day. Living alone means I can shape my day as I want it to be. I usually do social media interactions a couple of times in the day but then switch those off. Writing blog posts or other copy is most ‘in flow’ late afternoon early evening and I find 1:1 coaching works at any time of day (after 10am) but requires a calm space before and after.

I’m pretty disciplined so stick to my routine and weekly goals – but I also believe that following energy is actually more productive than powering through. I’ve learnt not to over-commit so I can protect my focus and energy for my clients. Establishing these boundaries is an essential component of working from home. This means I give myself permission on a daily basis to choose the tasks that feel most aligned with my work energy (to still meet my weekly goals) and to timetable screen breaks regularly.

All of these actions mean I am working at my best – and this was outside my control when I was working as an employee in an office situation.  I don’t find I have to fend off too many distractions during the week – people close to me know I’m ‘at work’ and respect that. It’s much easier to do this living alone and having grown children!”

Becky Kilsby – Freestyle Careers – The Hug Directory

It seems that the key to successfully working from home is to stop thinking about what others may be thinking and to have boundaries for yourself, family and friends. Keep yourself focussed by planning and if you are having any difficulties with your own business, it is always worth contacting a business coach to set you on the right track. At the end of the day YOU are YOUR business. YOU need to be steering YOUR ship in the right direction.

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