Is working from home right for you?

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Many of us dream of beginning our own business and fantasize about how we will spend our days working from home, lounging in our pajama’s and drinking coffee, with a ‘life is sooo good now,’ glow.  Well. There is another side to that picture, and while I don’t enjoy bursting bubbles, it’s important for potential small business owners everywhere to get a grip on the other side of this reality in order to make the best decision for them.

When I began my own business, a huge part of the appeal was an ability to be my own boss, adapt my business on a dime if necessary, and the potential for varied project work.  I envisioned more free time when I wanted it, and an opportunity to pull together all the things I am passionate about in my work which include writing and working with retailers and brands to improve their sales through visual merchandising and marketing. In many ways this vision became reality.  But the happily working in my pajamas from home ideal? Not so much.

Before you decide to launch and grow your business from home to perhaps save on the expense of an office, I’d like to invite you to consider the following:

  • What do you do when you need a break from work when employed at a traditional workplace? Do you chat in the break room or seek out a co-worker?
  • What elements in your surroundings tend to drive you?  Make you feel professional?
  • Can you grow your business best while at home or would there be some benefit to being in an environment with other professionals, even if their businesses bear little relationship to yours?
  • Can you remain focused solely on work when working from home?  If you have children, who will care for them when you need to get to task?  Will you be able to overlook the laundry and dishes until you are done with work?
  • Can you honestly, separate your professional and personal life in a healthy way while working from home?
  • Consider the answers to these questions and see if they align with a home office when you determine what is best for you.  I started my business from home, and while I initially enjoyed the ability to roll out of bed, grab a cup of coffee, and plant myself at my desk all before 7 a.m., it was only a few months before I realized the downside for me:  Too much isolation, not enough separation of work from my personal life (while I took breaks to work out or walk the dog, I also tended to keep myself working until 10 at night on occasion), and I missed being around other intelligent and busy people.  While the cost of an office was initially hard to justify, the value of having such a space became impossible to ignore. 

    If you consider that most businesses have a fair amount of start up time before work flows through the doors steadily and that during slow periods it can be hard to remain committed and positive, the idea of a separate workplace where you are surrounded by others facing some of the same concerns as you might make even more sense.

    And, working in your pajamas? Well…I believe that our professionalism is reflected in a myriad of ways, and one of them is in our attire.  While working from home one day a week in your PJ’s isn’t a bad thing, the majority of the time we should dress the part so that we take ourselves more seriously.  If we can’t take ourselves and our business seriously, why should anyone else?

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