The benefits of working from home appear to be very attractive. Is this really the case? Running a home business is not always plain sailing, and there are disadvantages as well as benefits of working at home, whether on your own or for your company. In this case, we are focusing on those working online for themselves, and not carrying out home-working for an employer.
In saying that, many of today’s great entrepreneurs started work at home or in unlikely locations. After dropping out of school aged 16, Sir Richard Branson started off his Virgin Records business in a church crypt, and then progressed to working from a railway carriage where he also had a bed.
You may be no different to him and others like him, but when discussing working from an office at home, keep in mind that they had total commitment to what they were doing, and used every minute of every day to achieve their ambition. To them, working from home gave them extra working time, not play time.
Examples of Home Businesses
People work from home for many reasons. We are not discussing here those that work at home for their employer. Some call center employees do not actually work from a call center as such, but from home. Calls on hold are transferred to their home when their phone becomes free.
There is no longer any need for telesales or customer services to be operated from one site. The physical location of employees is immaterial, and by locating them in their own homes it saves companies a great deal of money by not having physical buildings to maintain.
We are not discussing such ‘home working’ employees here, but those of us who are using the internet to make money for ourselves, to feed our families not our employers. We shall spend some time here to discuss the pros of cons of running a business from home, or of using your home as your office.
Examples of such home businesses include affiliate marketing, where you get paid a commission for selling products, professional blogging, using Forex to make money from currency exchange rates and selling your own products and services online. Each of these can be lucrative ways of making money from home, and would naturally also involve working at home.
Advantages and Benefits of Working From Home
There would appear to be many benefits and practically no disadvantages. Let’s examine each benefit first, and then discuss how these benefits could easily become negatives and disadvantages that could damage your home business. Here is a list of potential benefits:
You have no need to get up early in the morning to get to work. In fact, you have no need to even get dressed! You could theoretically run your business from your bedroom, in fact even from your bed.
External weather conditions have no effect on you – rain, snow, floods – they don’t matter to you. No digging out of the snow and calling somebody in to get your ice-up car started.
You miss the morning rush hour – because there is none. The only rush hour you will have is the fight for the bathroom each morning if you have a large family. You can afford to wait and leave them to it! The joys of having no timetable to keep!
You have no boss to answer to – you are your own man or woman. No need to take your lunch and tea breaks at appointed times. Then again, you will have nobody to gripe about!
There are no reports to have ready at allotted times, and no long, boring meetings to attend. You cannot be criticized for being late to meetings – in fact, there is nobody to criticize you but yourself – or your partner for spending too much time in bed in the morning!
More Working Time
If you keep to the same time schedules you had when you worked for an employer, then you can get more work done. You save on traveling time, both to and from work. Rail or bus strikes – they don’t matter to you.
Saving on Costs
Some individuals with an internet business work from an office away from home, but not many in comparison with those that do not. By working from home you save on the cost of premises. Even small office space costs money, and you must pay for power and a separate telephone and broadband connection.
Time Off Work
You can take as much time off as you need. If the kids are sick you can look after them. If you need a day off then just take it. If your partner needs you at home you are there.
It all looks great, doesn’t it? That’s assuming you are making enough money to feed you and any dependants. However, there are also several disadvantages, and reasons why many people do not make it when try to run their internet business from home. Some of these would likely be issues in any case, home or not, but make your own mind up.
Disadvantages of Working From Home
The non-benefits of working from home are not all disadvantages as such. Some are negative aspects associated with being self-employed, rather than as working from home. While the above benefits might excite you, the following may appear to be very discouraging. However, they can be overcome.
If you study the above advantages closely, they all refer to a lack of discipline, routine and responsibility that is involved in working for an employer. This is the major disadvantage of working from home – you have no immediate consequence of lack of commitment to your work. You have nobody overseeing your work, whether that is a supervisor, manager or the CEO.
Many people find out too late that they are unable to fully commit without such supervision of their work. They cannot focus on work without a boss on their backs. The consequence of such lack of commitment in your own home business is failure, not a slap on the wrist and a warning. It can be the total loss of your income.
Here is a list of the disadvantages of working from home:
Failure to Plan
A failure to plan your business properly, and a failure to set objectives and goals with time limits. All successful business, home or corporate, plan each step in their route to success. Planning and goal setting is extremely important, and a lack of it the #1 reason for failure with home businesses.
Lack of Commitment
A lack of commitment and focus on your primary objective – whether that is to meet a specific objective or simply to keep your customers happy. Working for a boss forces you to have that commitment to keep your job. Many employees work to keep their boss happy, not to do a good job. Such people may not be suited to working for themselves.
Having a Home Life
It is important to many people to separate their home life from their working life. It is extremely difficult to do this if you work from home. It can lead to domestic interruptions and arguments. You can also feel isolated and lonely if you spend all your time working at home and not getting out.
It is essential to allocate socializing time in your business plan – said tongue in cheek, but the meaning is true nevertheless. Just turn the computer off for an hour so and go out for a walk, or meet some friends for lunch or an evening drink. Also, make sure you have a business phone number separate from your home phone. Switch that off when not working, and leave a message – like all other businesses do.
If you have too much commitment to your home business you might have family issues. Take time to discuss your business with your wife and children if you have any. Make sure they understand its importance if it is your only source of income, and also make sure that you understand their issues.
This may be the largest of all the disadvantages of working from home for yourself. When working for an employer you would likely have had access to the company’s knowledge base. That would normally come in the form of employees who have specialist knowledge in every aspect of running the company – whether financial, legal, scientific, IT or engineering.
You have to do it all yourself, or pay others to do it for you. This is particularly true with regard to search engines and the legal aspects of blogging and internet marketing. You must carry out your own research, pay your own taxes, sort your own problems and generally do it all yourself.
Sure, you can employ others to help, but you suddenly become aware of the costs involved in running a business properly. If you are able to discipline yourself to work from home as you would for an employer, and set proper goals and targets, you will have a good chance of succeeding. Even then, however, you must still pay for the help you need to run all aspects of a successful business.
Working at Home: Conclusions
You could easily become lazy with a home business. You must discipline yourself to keep proper working hours, and not work just when you feel like it. The freedom to take family time when you need it or to deal with home emergencies is wonderful, but use it only when necessary.
The disadvantages and benefits of working from home can easily make the benefits well worth taking the plunge, but only if you are sure of your income. You have no regular weekly or monthly income, and that is what most people miss most. However, even if you are not currently working, the discussion is still relevant. If working from home is your only option, then you must still apply discipline and approach your home business in a professional manner.