These days, more and more people are starting to work from home in online businesses. Whether you have a true business with products to sell or a sole proprietorship in which you contract yourself out for services to individuals and organizations, your business operation will look similar when it operates on the web.
These are really good days for online businesses. One reason for this is that they tend to have low overhead, which means that many people who can’t get a business loan can still start their own business. Also, contract workers are finding that it’s an easy market for new jobs, as many companies are outsourcing jobs to these workers that don’t require office space or benefits.
Making an online, work from home business successful isn’t rocket science, but it does take some work on your part. There are several steps you can take to ensure that your home business is more successful. Here are just a five tips to help you succeed:
- Use credit, but use it wisely. If your business is showing early success, it may be tempting to run out and use credit to build a new home office or buy a killer new laptop. However, things can always turn around for the at home business, so make sure you’re using credit wisely. It may be a good idea to get a low-interest business credit card if possible. That way, you can make payments on large purchases that you need for your business.
- Set aside specific times for work. One of the main reasons many people decide to work from home is that they can have a more flexible schedule this way. That’s why many who are in school part time or are staying home with children end up working from home. However, if you don’t set aside actual work time, you’ll end up never getting things done. Since most online jobs are deadline based, you may find yourself staying up all night the day before a project is due just to get it in on time.
Most work at home entrepreneurs have been there are some point or another. Instead of torturing yourself this way, though, you can just set aside certain hours of the day for working. Your schedule can, of course, change from day to day, but you should have a schedule. Many people find that working for forty-five solid minutes and then taking a fifteen minute break keeps them more on track throughout the day, as well.
- Hire a babysitter if you have to. Of course, part of the point of working at home for most parents is being able to spend more time with the kids – and to avoid the cost of daycare. However, if you think you can get a full-time load’s worth of work done while you’re constantly taking care of little ones, think again. This is just a recipe for more stress.
If you’re working from home with little ones, consider hiring a babysitter to entertain them for a few hours a day. You can pay a local high school student $10 an hour to take your kids to the park or do a craft with them for a couple hours each afternoon. Between these two hours, nap time, and the hour or two just after bed time, you’ll be amazed at how much you can get done and still spend time with your kids.
- Keep careful records, and keep all your home receipts, as well. When you’re working from home, it’s a good idea to set aside a specific space for a home office. It’s a good idea not just because this can help you focus on work when it’s time to work but also because you can write off part of your rent or mortgage if you have dedicated office space for work. The same thing is true of your phone and Internet bills, as well as any other bills that cover expenses you use partially for your business.
If you aren’t sure what all can be written off as a business expense, check with a tax professional in your area. Then, start keeping all those receipts. Also, make sure you take careful record of the money you make from your clients, as well as any fees that are taken out by services you use to transfer money, such as PayPal. At the end of the year, you’ll thank yourself if you’ve made good records that will make tax time so much easier!
- Find some work life balance. There’s no doubt about it. It can be easy to get burnt out on working from home. You find yourself constantly at work, even when it’s time to turn off the computer and hang out with the family.
No one can tell you what your ideal work life balance is here. Maybe you’re the type who needs to work for six solid hours a day and then walk away from it. Maybe you prefer to work in snippets throughout the day and spend time with family in between times. Maybe you like working some household chores into your average workday, but maybe this is too distracting.
The point here is that you need to figure out what works for you. Talk to other at home entrepreneurs about what works for them, and do some experimenting. Eventually, you’ll find the right balance that will make your work more productive and your home life more homey.