If you work for yourself from your home, you get a lot of benefits. You don't have to commute or follow a dress code. In addition, you have no boss, and your hours are entirely up to you.
Those are all great benefits, but there are downsides to being a self-employed person who works from home. Working for yourself means that you are responsible for your own paycheck. You also have to cover your own benefits and figure out how to give yourself time off.
Working for yourself from home can be tremendously rewarding, but it's full of risks. If it's something you're considering, then to maximize your chances of success, think about all of the things that might go wrong.
One of the negatives of working from home is that your house is where all your stuff is, and it's where your family lives. That means you can be distracted by the call of your video gaming system or get dragged into family issues that take you away from work.
If you have kids, this may be unavoidable. Being home, as a parent, means that you must deal with whatever issues come up, and you should plan for that. You might figure on working early hours or late nights, but it's important to be realistic about what distractions will come up.
It's possible to resist some temptations -- like setting mental rules about watching TV, playing video games, or doing other non-work things -- but it takes discipline. The best way to avoid distractions is to make sure you have clear work goals to accomplish each day.
Make a plan
I'm a self-employed writer with a wife and 14-year-old son who is off from school for the next 10 weeks. I knew that would be the case for the entire school year. So I budgeted to do a little more work in March, April, and May, because I'll be doing a little less in June, July, and half of August.
I also have planned to start my days earlier in the summer while my son is still asleep, and I'll be working parts of the day during the weekend when my wife is home. Those moves will free me up to spend days at theme parks, afternoons at the beach, and time on various trips.
Remember you are human
When you have a traditional job, getting sick means you take the day off. If you work for yourself, not working means not making any money. That's something you should prepare for by making sure you have an emergency fund that can take care of both your personal and business expenses if you can't work for a period of time. If you don't get sick or end up taking unexpected days off, then you will have a cash reserve you can use for something else.
Keep your family in check
Because I work from home and set my own schedule, I often end up handling more than my fair share of housekeeping duties. That might mean doing the laundry, making dinner, dropping off dry cleaning, or dealing with deliveries.
Many of those things make sense -- my day is longer because I don't have a commute. In other cases, however, it's easy for my wife and son to equate flexibility with my always being available.
Sometimes, I simply have to say no. I might have all the flexibility in the world, but I still have to work. It's easy to lose your day to mundane tasks if you're not protective of your time.
It's about discipline
Working from home for yourself requires a special kind of discipline. I have nobody telling me I have to do anything, so it would be relatively easy some days to just do nothing.
I avoid that by having strict quotas for myself. I can take tomorrow off, but that means doing twice as much today. That's a system I don't negotiate with myself, and it keeps me focused and on task.
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