Working from home attracts a lot of hopefuls who legitimately want a better quality of life. In so many ways, working from home is sweet as heck. Right at this very moment, I’m sitting outside in Houston Texas, my hair teased by the warm breezes from the Gulf of Mexico. It’s November, and a warm 80° with an intense sun sporadically blanketed by clouds. It’s so nice, that I’m sitting right next to the pool.
Sounds great doesn’t it? It is great. It is one of the treats I afford myself for all of the hair-pulling that I do.
Don’t Be Seduced By Myths
You heard it all; Fire your boss, do whatever you want, enjoy the good life. Well, that’s part of the story.
There’s another part of the story, a story that is another side to a very shiny coin.
You don’t hear about the drawbacks because nobody’s talking. The reason they don’t want to talk about them is because they don’t want to scare other people away from their business opportunity that promises such a privileged lifestyle. They write about how cool it is to work from home, on the beach, in your pajamas, blah, blah, blah.
I’m not here to burst your bubble. What I am here to do is to give you a wake up call, so your working from home dream doesn’t become a nightmare. The dream can be what you make of it, but you need work-at-home veterans to be straight with you.
What could possibly be so bad about working from home, Erlinda? Stub your toe on your kitchen table? Step on a lego? Rip your jammies? What is it?
Let’s jump into the myths about working from home.
Work From Home Myth #1: You Make Money Right Away
You can make more money than a regular job, depending on your learning curve and your hustle. However, thinking you’re going to make more money right away is a fool’s game, especially if you have never done it before. Of course, there are people who have been down to their last buck and became millionaires. It can happen. I am here to tell you:
1. It didn’t happen overnight.
2. It took a lot of focused effort.
3. They had to cut back either by choice or by force.
4. They didn’t give up, even when things looked bad.
In other words, you have to plan. Make goals.
- How long am I going to keep my job?
- How much money should I be making from my business before I decide to quit?
- Will I have a savings when I quit?
But Erlinda, I can just tell my bill collectors that I’m working on it, and keep the lights on, right?
You need a source of income to pay your bills. If it’s your job, keep it for now. If your spouse agrees to work and be the main source of income, talk to him/her about your goals, budget and any concerns they have. Budget your money to pay for your business education, marketing, supplies, or whatever you need. Make small sacrifices like going to the movies or buying that expensive cup of coffee.
Start your business part time.
Remember you are building an asset that will pay you for years and that you can pass on to your kids. Build it right. Be smart about making the transition.
For some people that can take years. In the meantime, you can build a nice side income that helps you pay off some bills and gets you ready for the big time.
Knowing how long it will take to earn an income of any kind is darn near impossible. It depends on factors like how you market, how much you market, whether you know how or not, what you sell, your conversions from visitor to customer, and more. When I first started selling on Craigslist, I earned $50 within 2 hours of putting my first item online. $25 an hour, not bad right? Sure, as long as you can do that every two hours, which I could not. Business will go up and down. Businesses are like that.
Being careful with your finances can keep you out of trouble, or at least give you more of a heads up if you see trouble coming. However, don’t expect to make money right away, and you can focus your attention instead on building that income.
Work From Home Myth #2: Free Time Galore!
Sure, you have more time. You no longer commute, or have to get all dressed up, or go to another pointless meeting. However, you will be using that time to hustle, if you are building your business correctly. That time is just put right back into the business.
You are facing pressures that you didn’t have before. You must have a constant stream of income to not only cover your living expenses, but also to create a healthy profit that can buy you the life that you want. When you had your job, someone else did the marketing, paid for the office space, collected leads and did payroll. Now you have to do all that. That “free time” is eaten up pretty quickly.
Another pressure source is other people: relatives, neighbors, friends. They think that you’re working from home means that you’re more available to help them out with things that they need done, or that you are available to hang out with them. This is when you have to put up boundaries and say “no.”
Travis Bradberry in Entrepreneur.com says this about saying no:
No is a powerful word that ultra-productive people are not afraid to wield. When it’s time to say no, they avoid phrases such as I don’t think I can or I’m not certain. Saying no to a new commitment honors your existing commitments and gives you the opportunity to successfully fulfill them.
Research conducted at the University of California in San Francisco shows that the more difficulty that you have saying no, the more likely you are to experience stress, burnout, and even depression. Learn to use no, and it will lift your mood, as well as your productivity.
However, the biggest pitfall with time and working from home is: knowing when work stops and home time begins. When you are working from home, time can really get away from you. The lines between work and leisure are blurred, especially if you combine things you like to do with things you must do, like:
- Watching Netflix while stuffing envelopes.
- Eating lunch while on a webinar.
- Walking the dog while on a client call.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you shouldn’t have some fun while doing tasks, if it helps you get things done. I’m just saying that blurring those lines can lead you to feel that you are ALWAYS working and you can burn out pretty quickly. You don’t want that. You want to keep some order.
Setting boundaries is important to keep you from burning out. Finish at a certain time, keep most of your business activities in one space and spend time with your family. You will be happier in the long run.
Work From Home Myth #3: Joy, Joy and More Joy
Now, I’ve got to say that having more fun with the home-based business is true. Yet, if you are unfortunate enough to choose the wrong home-based business, it will be harder to maintain.
You don’t have to feel like you are having a party while building a business from home, though if you can, kudos to you! Simply find work that you are interested in, at least.
What happens if you discover that you hate your home business of choice?
Jacquelyn Smith, a career expert at Forbes uses a quote that can very well apply to a work-at-home business:
There are various things that contribute to dissatisfaction in the workplace, says Dr. Katharine Brooks, director of Liberal Arts Career Services at The University of Texas at Austin and author of You Majored in What? Mapping Your Path from Chaos to Career. “There might be a conflict between your interests and the duties of the position; the job might be too demanding or not demanding enough; lack of training for position; lack of job security; you may have a poor relationship with co-workers or a supervisor; you might be poorly compensated; you might be in bad or unsafe working conditions; or you’re burnt out.”
You have to figure out what is really tripping you up about your business, but if it is lack of passion, then be on a mission to fix that problem. For example, you start a business baking cupcakes, but if you hate to cook, it probably won’t last long. If your calling is painting, then consider a lifework where you can monetize your artistic skills. I know of one entrepreneur who paints scenery, still frame and other subjects for a living. She also teaches art classes. She’s living her dream and she’s doing very well at it.
She’s a success story because not only is she making more money as a business owner, but she’s also doing something that she loves. It is possible that she’s been told many times that painting will not ever make any money. She would have proved them wrong.
That said, you must find a balance between what you love to do and making a living doing it. Make sure that your product or service is in demand. You also have to be creative and how you market your product or service. If you don’t have the budget to hire somebody to market for you, then you must learn to market on your own.
You want to learn how to market on your own anyway, so you can learn the ins and outs of marketing. Marketing online with social media is completely different than marketing in magazines. In the case of our painter, her work with probably do very well on Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr. If she paid a marketing company to place an expensive glossy magazine ad, she would want to know that she must target the right audience. She may also want to supplement that ad with less expensive social media marketing. Blowing money on expensive ads, with no return on investment, can put you out of business quickly.
Work From Home Myth #4: Everyone Is Super Supportive
Some people will support you all the way to the unemployment line (if that’s where you end up); others will fight you tooth and nail. They will wonder why you spend so much time with your business. They will wonder why you have less available time to hangout. They will tell you that it will never work, that you will fail, or they might even try to tell you how to run your business even though they’ve never run a business themselves. I believe most friends and family mean well, but the damage they can do is very real.
Eventually, you have to decide whether you want to spend less time with them, or cut them off completely. It is an awful choice for many business owners to make, especially if they have been in their lives for decades. In marriages, it may cause divorce or separation. It may get you shunned from your own family. However if you are completely committed having a business of your own and having control over your own life, then you will make the hard choices. As a business owner you have a lot of hard choices to make, and I’m afraid it may not get any easier.
On the bright side, you will know who supports you. Keep those people around and forge stronger relationships. Your quality of life will improve.
Work From Home Myth #5: Quality Time With The Kids!
Working from home, I do get to spend more time with children. However, there are traps you need to beware of with kids and business. It doesn’t matter how old they are. They need their parents.
What is one big obstacle that I struggle with? Being present for them. Being in the same room with your children is not the same as spending time with them. Splitting your focus between your children and demanding business needs is not ideal.
I personally have dealt with a lot of guilt, for being physically around my kids but not being mentally present with them. As a business owner I had to make decision who was going to be first – business or my kids.
The answer seems obvious – kids before clients. However, as a business owner, you do see the big picture and understand that getting one extra client means you get to spend Christmas at Disney World. Or it means you can pay for those piano lessons, dance lessons or karate lessons. You can buy a PlayStation for birthdays. You can buy that house in a better neighborhood so your kids can go to a great school. Striving usually means that you have to put in extra time that overlaps the time that you spend with children.
Balancing children and business is a challenge, but not impossible. When my kids were babies, I decided that spending more time with my children was more important. Now that they are both in school, I can spend more time with my business.
Work From Home Myth #6: Money Is The Main Objective
This has to be one of biggest myths about working from home. There is an underlying pressure to earn more money. It is all some people focus on. Making money is a measure of how well your business is paying you, but this is not the only element you should focus on. Thinking only about money can wreck your business and here’s why: The business becomes about you and not about your customer.
Businesses need to make a profit and they do this by providing value. Imagine making boats for a living. In an effort to make money, you cut corners, and create boats that sink within a month. The value of the boat (for fishing, leisure, or prestige) has been diminished by the serious downside of the cost (price of buying boat, plus losing fishing supplies, belongings, or possibly drowning). Providing a lousy product will kill your business faster than anything, even if you profit more at the onset.
Second, the stress about “never having enough money” is enough to drive you nuts. Previously, I talked about planning and budgeting, so that you have less financial pressure on yourself. Fussing over finances is distracting and can contribute to the downfall of your business.
So what is the main objective, if it’s not money? How about passion? Developing your skills? Growing something that you can leave as a legacy? Building your dream and not someone else’s dream? Oh yeah, AND money. While money shouldn’t be your strongest focus, it is still pretty important. Don’t be ashamed to make money – and lots of it. Just don’t make it the only goal of your business.
Work From Home Myth #7: Every Business Will THRIVE
New business owners remind me of new puppies. They are excited, invested and their enthusiasm is infectious. They KNOW that their business is GONNA MAKE IT. They envision themselves driving the car of their dreams, having a huge team or sales, being recognized in local groups and events. Wow! Who wouldn’t be excited about that?
Hold your horses there. There is nothing wrong with being excited. However, being so overly optimistic that it clouds your judgement can lead you to trouble.
People assume that their business is going to work out, especially if they are in network marketing. They get their head full of ideas about desires that they thought were completely out of their reach.
While I think it is a great motivator to get excited about your business, I know what happens when that excitement wears off and the reality of the amount of work needed sets in.
The grim fact is that a vast majority fail.
It can be a dream killer and if you get jaded and swear off of working from home forever.
If you think about it, many people have an all or nothing mentality. You either earn big and become rich, or you quit and fade into working class obscurity. What if I said it doesn’t have to be that way? Would you be ok with starting out with a part time income? Would you be ok with moving up to a full-time income?
My point here is that high expectations can derail your business plans.
Instead of treating your business like a lottery ticket, treat it like a baby. Nourish it, feed it, love it, fix your mistakes, keep learning how to take care of it.
People don’t expect to give birth to a doctor. A child isn’t born and immediately stands up and practices medicine. So why would you expect the same from your business?
Managing expectations doesn’t guarantee success. However, it does help you develop a plan to build your business and perhaps a backup plan in case your business doesn’t work out. Dreaming about luxury won’t build your business; hard work and careful planning will build it.
There you have it! The 7 biggest myths of working from home.