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Are You Afraid To Work At Home?
Copyright (c) 2004 by Cheryl Levey. All Rights Reserved.
Nowadays, it seems that everyone wants to work at home somehow. The internet has made this a real possibility for thousands who otherwise would never have had the opportunity to even consider the one-minute commute.
No doubt you've heard all the hype about the joys of running a business from home, the time freedom to schedule work around play, the opportunity to make more than you could hope for in a traditional job, the ability to make money doing something you really love.
You've also probably heard about how easy it's supposed to be, and that's when your "warning" antennae shoot up. Just how successful are these people and if it's so easy, why isn't everyone already doing it?
The truth is that is can be pretty scary to leave a traditional job and take full responsibility individually for your financial well-being. Even if your job isn't as secure as you think, you're still working at it, still collecting your steady pay. There are people who have gotten laid off or down-sized who start an at-home business out of necessity, but there are many wanting to take the plunge but don't out of fear.
And that fear is well-founded, because trust me, as a former employee turned self-employed person who DOES work at home, it's not all rosy. Until things reach a certain momentum, money is a big worry. So if you are going to work for yourself, try to have several months worth of livng expenses saved up before you quit your steady job to use while you get things going. Another worry is benefits. Some people are lucky enough to have a spouse that provides health benefits, but that is a big worry for the self-employed. Additionally, life insurance and IRA savings are a worry, things that for a lot of people are automatically provided by an employer.
Money, health, and financial matters aren't the only worries either! You have to have great discipline to succeed. There are the great perks of working when you want, answering to yourself, and having time to spend with the family guilt-free. But for some people, not having someone else to answer to is deadly. It's easy to put off doing the business things you need to do in favor of playing with the kids or going to a movie. It's easy to do pretty much anything BUT business (including housework!) when there's no boss to answer to.
But then, there's no paycheck to collect either, and that isn't good. Which takes you back to all of those financial worries!
In the end, only you can decide if giving up what your employer provides for you (including the steady paycheck) is worth taking the plunge into the unknown. For some people, it's too much of a risk, or they are too close to retirement, to toss away everything they've worked for over the years.
For others, giving up the employee perks is easy. It all depends on you and your circumstances, and deciding to stay after carefully weighing your pros and cons is not a bad thing. But, if you decide to leave, to be successful, you gotta have some carved-in-stone rules!
First, if you have the choice, spend a few months before quitting your job salting away every penny you can as well as getting your business started. Yes, it will be hard and yes, you'll be working an awful lot between your job and building your business, but if you can lay the groundwork for leaving your job before you actually do it by, you'll be ahead of the game when you are really on your own.
Also while still employed, research every avenue you can for health, life, IRAs, etc. for the self-employed. The National Association for the Self-Employed http://www.nase.org/
is a good place to start.
If you're laid off or leave a job unexpectedly, don't panic. Consider all of your options before you do anything. If you need cash to live on while you figure out what to do and are considering cashing out your retirement account or something like that, talk to a financial advisor about what options you have and the best way to get the money you need with the fewest penalties. Note that I am NOT advising cashing out your retirement savings, but it is an option if you're facing (for example) losing your house.
Create a budget. Include all expenses you can think of. Bills, mortgage, insurance, food, kids school needs, car payments, credit card debts, misc, and toss in a monthly amount for unexpecteds. Include your additional self-employed expenses - health and life insurance, taxes, IRAs, etc. Be as realistic as possible, and try not to be shocked at the numbers. (They were shocking to me!) This will help you determine how much you need to earn per month, per week, even per day, and having this on hand to refer to will also help light a fire under you to make sure you work instead of taking advantage of not having a "real" job!
If you're a freelancer, those numbers will also help you determine what your rates are, which is a delicate balance between what the industry average is, your skill level, what others will pay for your services, and how much you need to make to cover your bills.
Also, create a business plan. This does not have to be a detailed, formal, plan, but you have to decide what you are going to do, how you're going to do it, and what the processes of your business will be. The plan will evolve, but you have to have something to start with in order to keep you on track. Learn from my mistakes - I floundered around for several months after I left my job and as a result, I lost a lot of income!
Once you decide exactly what you're going to do, take action every day toward your goals. Make a schedule of daily tasks if you have to. Just make sure you keep on track every day.
Decide your work schedule. The nice thing is that you can decide what work schedule you want and it doesn't necessarily have to match typical business hours. For example, I typically do short bursts of work during the day (1-2 hours at a time) and then do my heavy-duty work at night, after everyone's in bed (for about four hours or so). I could never have this kind of schedule with an outside job! Once you know your work schedule, stick to it at all costs. If your spouse wants to take the kids to the park during your designated work hours, gently tell him or her to have fun, or ask them to wait until you "get off work." Just because you're on your own does not mean you don't have a "boss" - that pile of bills is calling!
So, if you're wanting to get out of your job and on your own, hopefully this article gave you some food for thought. Leaving the familiar (even if it's a bad situation) can be terrifying, and it is hard to give up perks you're used to. But if you're unhappy, really, what's the worst that can happen? You'll spend several months doing something you love and then if it isn't working out, you'll make the decision to get another job that might actually be better than the one you left. Right? But what about this: You swallow your fear, take the chance, and end up with so much business that you never have to even think of going back.
That second scenario sounds pretty good, doesn't it?
About the author:
Cheryl Levey is a writer/designer living in beautiful central Arizona with her family. Find out more about her, her online businesses, and ways you can make money working at home too at http://www.cherylsweb.com
and at http://www.bizonlineinc.com