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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Is Buying a Home-Based Business Right for You?

Peter King
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Many people think about this all the time: the chance to combine both career and family life by working from home. But once you make the leap, the concern enters your mind: will you have trouble waking up in the morning without the need to drive to an office?  
If you have doubts already, then working from home will not be for you. While running a home-based business offers tremendous freedom and flexibility, it also requires a high degree of motivation, self-discipline and organization. If you happen to work for a big corporation where you have a well-defined job description, a manager closely supervises your work and/or employees that report to you; you may find it difficult to make the transition to being your own home-based boss.  
On the other hand, if your job gives you a fair degree of independence and you’re chafing at the bit for more, then working from home could be the right fit for you.  
In order to determine if you should and could work from home, ask yourself the following questions:  
Are you a jack-of-all-trades?
Unlike working at a big corporation that has resources and specialists to send bills, fix computer problems and deal with problem employees; home-based business owners typically have to figure things out on their own. This means that you have to master the skills necessary to do your own bookkeeping, tech support and hiring/firing – otherwise, find a competent bookkeeper, computer technician or HR service to help you.  
Even though there are now many outsourced services for small and home-based business owners, a solid grasp of QuickBooks, Microsoft Office and the Internet will make you more self-sufficient and cut down on professional service fees.  
Are you comfortable setting my own schedule?
If you’re used to showing up at an office every morning, operating in an environment without set hours or an employer-imposed schedule can be a difficult adjustment. While everybody claims to want freedom, the truth is that most people are creatures of habit and routine. That’s why it’s a good idea to create some sort of schedule to break up your day.  
For example, if you start your day at 9 a.m., you could spend the first hour checking your email messages and making cold calls, then tackle two hours of work before lunch. After lunch, you could make another round of calls, then put in another four hours of work before signing off for the day. Generally, it’s a good idea to work the same hours that your clients do.  
Are you good at setting goals?
Just like creating a schedule can help structure your time, setting goals can give you milestones to shoot for and tangible rewards for achieving them. For example, if you had been writing for a newspaper and wanted to become a home-based freelance writer, your first goal was to make as much as you had been making, then start raising the bar by $1,000 per month. Before long, you could have eight newspaper and magazine clients paying you a total of $8,000 per month.  
Are you easily distracted?
Some of the biggest challenges with working from home are the constant distractions. While there may be fewer meetings and less workplace gossip, there will be plenty of other things that compete for your attention – kids, pets, housework, television and the refrigerator to a name a few. It’s a good idea to set up your home office in a room with a door to keep intrusions to a minimum.  
Are you able to call it quits at the end of the day?
No matter how much work still needs to get done, it’s important to be able to call an end to your day. Even if you go back to the computer after dinner to check your email or do some writing, it’s important to set aside some time for your family and yourself. Unfortunately, many people who start working from home discover an inner workaholic they never knew was there. While you may need to put in extra hours initially to get your business off the ground, it’s also important to strike a balance between your work and family responsibilities.


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