I don’t think of it in these terms all that often, but overall I work from home for the most part. Every once in awhile I go on the road for a few days to a few months, but in general I do most of my work from home. What brought me to thinking about it was that I made a list of Work From Home blogs, #21 in fact, and since it’s always nice to be recognized I thought I’d point it out and thank it for giving me an idea of something new to write about.
I’ve often encouraged people who are out of work to at least look into the possibility of working for themselves while they’re collecting unemployment. There are many people with great skills that could translate into a profession where they wouldn’t have to deal with weak managers or poor working conditions.
However, there are realities to working for oneself as well. I would recommend that every person who’s even thinking about working for themselves start by reading Before You Quit Your Job by Robert Kiyosaki. Although I probably wouldn’t have changed a thing, I’d have learned some things to watch out for ahead of time.
If you’re not in the mood to read the book just yet you’re in luck, because I’m going to talk about it for a brief bit. In essence, I have 5 things to tell you about working for yourself that you have to watch out for, or that you need to get more information about before you embark on your quest. Here you go:
1. You need to learn more about marketing. I have to say that marketing is the thing I’m the worst at, even after almost 10 years; gasp! I can tell you what doesn’t work, but I can’t tell you what does work. The issue becomes what can one do to captivate their particular audience. For me, the main audience I’d love to reach right now doesn’t do social media, doesn’t do “out of the box” thinking, and doesn’t really do minorities telling them what to do; that’s just being honest. However, my long term career goal works well for each of these, which makes me work on finding a balance between the two.
2. Money will almost always be up and down. I’ve had years that have put me in one of the highest tax brackets that barely kept me middle class. Then I’ve had years like 2009 where, because of the economy, I was scratching every week just to have enough money to pay bills and eat every once in awhile. It takes a lot of discretion not to spend unwisely when it’s coming in like water and a lot of planning to make sure you have enough to spread around and last awhile when things slow down.
3. Wasting time can be easy to do. Man, I feel like I waste time every day. I do, but when I look at it overall I also work more hours than a person working a 9-5 job does. Unless I’m working a project that someone else is paying me for I tend to work in spurts. That means that oftentimes business and pleasure get mixed together. For instance, when I’m checking email, there’s always more business email than personal email these days, yet I tend to do both around the same time. Also, something I learned as a manager is that you have to have “thinking time” because that’s how you come up with ideas for things such as writing or creating stuff. That could be seen as wasting time by some, but I find it crucial, and I find that not enough people take those moments out of their schedule for it.
4. You can overwork yourself. How many of you remember my 10-hours a day experiment? Hopefully things will change some as it starts to get warmer, but I normally sleep 4 to 5 hours a day, get a couple of 30 minute naps in here and there, and most of the rest of the time I sit at the computer working and thinking and wasting time. I joined the gym to try to get myself out of the house and into shape, but that’s often only an hour, if that. So that pans out to 14 – 16 hours or so at the computer on a regular basis; no wonder my mind feels shot here and there. I need to take more time off, although I know time off means I don’t get paid, but one’s mind just can’t stay sharp working that many hours. However, most of the people I know that work from home do the same thing.
5. You spend a lot of time alone. Why do I write my blogs so much? Because other than when my wife comes home I don’t have many other interactions with people during the day, unless I’m going to a meeting, networking, or I’m out of town. Some people think we just sit around drinking whatever in our pajamas or underwear all day and how nice it is, but there’s something to be said for engaging other people every day, even if it’s only for minutes at a time. If I decide to work out I’m still sitting in Barnes & Noble or Wegmans or the library by myself, even if there are other people around. It’s not always easy mentally, but it’s something you’d have to be ready to get used to.
Did any of that scare you? If not, you might be ready to explore doing this type of thing for yourself. You won’t have to deal with weak or mean managers anymore, but you just might find that your worst and meanest critic is actually you. But if you can get paid well, it eases things dramatically. 😉