Everyday, thousands of people in America and around the world decide to work from home. They may choose to provide some service, such as a maid service, or house sitting. They may have more technical capabilities and aspirations, so perhaps they provide investment advice, or serve in some capacity as a broker for various goods and services.
It used to be that many people wanting to work from home would opt for some sort of network marketing business, such as Avon, Tupperware, or Amway. Today, the business world has discovered the internet, and the opportunity to work from home often includes some sort of home based internet business.
However, whether business is conducted door-to-door, or over the internet, anyone thinking about becoming involved in a business that will allow them to work from home needs to take a look at the following areas. These four simple areas have been the downfall of many a prospective entrepreneur.
Have You Done The Research?
When reasons are listed as to why small businesses fail, a lack of knowledge and understanding of business in general, and the chosen business in particular, are prominent.
Many people believe that their great idea which will allow them to work from home will be so obvious and self-evident that people will beat a path to their door. They can picture the money flowing in, and envisage a life of wealth and prosperity, usually with little work attached to it.
The truth is that any new business has to go through a “getting off the ground” period. While there are many, many opportunities to make a home business work for you, it is realistic to assume that it will take time and effort to grow the business to the point where you will be making significant income.
It is important to acquire a depth of knowledge not only about your chosen business, but about business in general. You may have had a great idea, but if you choose the wrong location, spend money on ineffective advertising, or pay for unnecessary business costs, you may not see the income you had hoped, or you may see some great income flowing in, only to flow right back out to meet expenses.
It is also a truism that most new business owners have to put in prodigious amounts of time and effort. If a business has a physical location, the new owner may be the person whose face you see from opening to close because they cannot afford to hire employees at first. If the business is an internet business, the owner may have to spend great quantities of “sweat equity” in getting the business website on the search engines or listed in directories. Many new internet entrepreneurs go so far as to learn HTML and SEO (search engine optimization) techniques because they cannot afford the services of professionals.
While a business which allows someone to work from home also generally allows some latitude in when, where, and how business is to be conducted, it is still a business and cannot be played at as if it were a game.
Do You Have The Personality?
People who succeed in businesses which allow them to work from home are often risk takers. They must often leave behind the security of a paycheck and an organization which will support them. You might be surprised how easy it is to state what the company says is so about their product when you get their paycheck and how difficult it is to make statements of fact about the product YOU are selling, particularly if you are a distributor or independent representative of a company whose offices you have never seen.
Someone wishing to work from home often has visions of NOT having a boss breathing over their shoulder, or of setting their own schedule. However, many people NEED a boss to provide guidance, and a schedule and company operating procedures to provide structure for their actions. Once you leave the comfort and security of the job you once held, you become responsible for scheduling, structure, evaluations, and so on. You become the one responsible for all actions, errors, and omissions. If you have never been in this situation before, you might be surprised at how weighty this can become.
As I used to tell some of my students, when you go into business for yourself, you may become the boss, but you will also find out how good an employee you are. If you had trouble showing up for work at somebody else’s place of business, there is a good chance that you will have trouble showing up at your own.
Do You Have The Resources?
Resources are not merely physical in nature. We are not just talking about having enough room to store things, or a warm room to work in during the cold winter months. Even if you have a business which does not require you to actually work from home, you will need a place to sit, a phone to use, perhaps a computer and/or other resources. Even if you are selling Avon door-to-door, there will be records to keep, orders to place, phone calls to be made, etc.
Two resources which are of critical importance are time and money.
Again, one of the most common contributing causes of failure of small businesses is that not enough money has been set aside. This often goes back to the fact, mentioned above, that research has not been done. Another reason is often unrealistic expectations on the part of the new entrepreneur. Unfortunately, this is very common among network marketing and multi-level marketing businesses due to unrealistic claims made by people seeking to recruit others into their business downline.
As mentioned above, it may take time for income to begin coming in, and there may be a learning phase during which the new entrepreneur is making mistakes, and perhaps spending too much money. This leads us to the other resource needed…time.
The reality is that most new businesses will need time to develop and grow to the point where they are essentially self-sustaining. In the case of network marketing businesses and multi-level marketing models, this time period may be years. I often cite the cases of two friends of mine who became millionaires with two different network marketing businesses. In both cases, it took each of them three years to become self-sustaining, and another year to reach millionaire status.
Are You Organized Enough?
Many people go into a new business without the proper mindset. This is incredibly important for someone hoping to work from home. As previously alluded to, in moving from a 9 to 5 job into a personal business of some kind, people often find themselves without guidance and structure in their work processes. Many of us do not realize how much of what we do to succeed at work depends on the company’s previous trial-and-error, or the experience and training that is available in the structured work place.
Once on our own, we become responsible for sales records, inventory accountability, customer satisfaction, order fulfillment just to name a few areas. Of particular importance is the handling of tax information.
Additionally, the new entrepreneur must personally remain abreast of changes in marketing techniques, changes in products and services, and changes in competitor’s products and marketing techniques, just to touch on a few subjects.
Finally, while the sort of business where you can work from home has the potential for great rewards, it can also impose great responsibility as well. You should carefully consider not only your anticipated business but yourself as well before you commit time and resources to the task.