Look Before You Leap ... Is A Home-Based Business REALLY For You?
Posted on January 28, 2000
By Elena Fawkner
Working from home sounds wonderful, doesn't it? No commute;
no boss breathing down your neck; no fixed schedule; reward
for effort; control; work/family flexibility; not having to
worry about being laid off; leaving the office politics way
behind; not having to get dressed up; being with your
children. Is this what comes to mind when you think about
what it would be like to work from home? If so, take a
good hard look before you make the jump from paid to self-
Although these are all indisputably strong benefits of
running your own home-based business, they need to be
weighed against some pretty harsh realities if you are to
make an informed decision whether a home-based business is
truly right for you. These realities can be grouped into
three main areas: personal, financial and situational.
Commitment - you must be totally committed to making a
success of your business. It is important to distinguish
between commitment and mere interest. If what you want to
do as a business is only an interest, your enthusiasm and
motivation may wane over time. You must be absolutely
committed to the success of your business if you are to
achieve the success you desire.
Risk-Taker - one of the benefits of owning your own
business is that you don't have to answer to a boss. The
other side of the coin is that there is no-one to fall back
on if things go wrong. If you make a mistake or suffer a
loss, you wear it. For this reason, you must be comfortable
taking calculated risks. If security and stability are very
important to you, perhaps paid employment is a better option.
Self Motivation - again, there is no boss to wave a carrot
under your nose to get you moving. You must be able to
motivate yourself to do what needs to be done and that
includes the stuff you don't particularly enjoy doing.
Self Discipline - being your own boss means exercising
personal discipline to ensure that the work gets done.
There will be no end of distractions to tempt you away from
the task at hand when you're working from home. You will
need a healthy dose of self discipline to ensure you stay on
Patience - starting a home-business is one thing; turning
a profit is quite another. You will not make a profit
overnight. Be prepared to be patient and frugal during the
first few months of your new venture.
Reasons - closely related to the need for self-motivation,
your reasons for wanting to work from home will keep you in
the saddle. If your reasons are to get rich quick or work
fewer hours, think again. A home-based business will
definitely not deliver.
Flexibility and Adaptability - you may have come from a
corporate environment where you enjoyed a certain status.
You may have had a secretary or assistant to take care of
the more routine aspects of your job description. In your
home-based business you will need to be prepared to wear
many hats, at least in the beginning. This means being
flexible and adaptable, being prepared to learn new skills
and willing to take on new tasks.
Willingness to Sacrifice - especially in the early stages
of your business, be prepared to make sacrifices in terms of
time and money to get your business off the ground. You
will need to be prepared to put in long hours and, more
likely than not, get by on less money than you were bringing
home from your paid job.
Work Ethic - the backbone of all of the disciplines you
will need to practice in your home business is your work
ethic. If you have a strong work ethic then the need for
personal discipline and sacrifice will come as no surprise.
Stress Management - the burden of your business's success
or failure will rest squarely on your shoulders. That's a
lot of responsibility. Consider your capacity for stress
management. If it's not high, learn ways to increase it.
Cash Reserves - if business is slow to start, do you have
sufficient cash reserves to see you through? If not,
perhaps you should consider starting your business part-time
until it is bringing in enough of a profit to sustain you.
Retirement Planning - say goodbye to the employer-
sponsored pension plan and hello to the world of IRAs
(Individual Retirement Accounts). You need to think
differently about your retirement plans and should seek the
advice of a qualified financial planner in the early days of
your new business.
Health Insurance - say goodbye too to the perks of paid
employment such as free medical, dental, life and disability
insurance. You will need to take out your own cover for
Vacation - no-one's going to pay you while you take that
two week vacation any more. And, while we're at it, who's
going to run your business while you're away?
Hard Work, Long Hours - if you think that working for
yourself means you won't have to work as hard or as long,
think again. Most likely it will mean more of both.
Interruptions - if you have children at home, be prepared
for constant interruptions. Being with your children, of
course, is one of the main advantages of working from home
but you will need to set limits if your business is to get
sufficient attention. The same goes for your spouse!
Distractions - beware of the temptation to take care of
household tasks during the time you have allocated to your
business. It's very tempting to run a load of washing or
vacuum the carpets instead of facing up to that business
task you don't feel like doing right now. Self-discipline
is crucial if you are to avoid procrastination undermining
Isolation and Loneliness - if you come from a busy
corporate background, at some point after the novelty of
working from home begins to wear off, you may begin to feel
isolated and even lonely. Be prepared with strategies to
keep the isolation blues at bay. See "Overcoming Isolation
in Your Home Business" at
http://www.fawkner.com/Overcoming_Isolation.html for some
As you can see, although there are many wonderful reasons to
work from home, there are also many strong reasons why a
home-based business may not be the right choice for you.
Take a good hard look at the above realities and your own
personal qualities and motivations. Do you have what it
takes to make a success of your business? Are you prepared
to do what has to be done? Whatever that is? If so, a
home-based business may very well be just what the doctor
ordered. But, if you have any doubts, look very hard before
you make the leap from paid employment to your own home-
based business. You could very well be jumping from the
frying pan into the fire.
Elena Fawkner is editor of A Home-Based Business Online,
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