There are immense benefits to working from home on a self-employed basis. But is working from home possible for everyone? Some people may find the safety net offered by corporate working more suitable to their personality or to their financial circumstances. So, let’s find out which one suits you best.
The mechanics of working from home
Personally, I think there are endless advantages being your own boss. But it is also true that to have a successful home-based business – of whichever legit nature – you must fulfil pre-requirements without which you will fail in making a feasible and sustainable earning. Here are a few ones, which I found out from my direct experience.
#1. Keep your eggs in many baskets
You must be prepared to be a champion of multi-tasking, and to explore different avenues. When working from home on a self-employed basis, you do not have a regular salary, like in the corporate world, where your monthly salary is guaranteed, regardless of whether this week you have an important project to deliver by a tight deadline or whether the workload has suddenly gone quiet.
When working from home, you earn for what you deliver. And in order to deliver regularly, you must ensure that the demands is kept alive constantly. So, if your field of expertise is in selling merchandise, you may want to branch out to various selling markets, so as to satisfy the demands of different client platforms. And whilst your speciality may be in selling antique items, you may be prepared to try out other products like electronic gadgets, or you may want approach different buyers, from a booth sale fair to antique shops to online buyers.
#2. Promote yourself
It’s all very easy to choose to work from home, if to the core you are a very introvert person, who achieves more when not having to interact constantly with work colleagues or customers. The reality of it is that, in the same way as you must try to experiment in different direction, you must also try to promote your business as much and as persuasively as you possibly can – naturally within the boundaries of your professional ethics, and not by making up lies and false statements!!!
In a practical example, in my online affiliate marketing business, I would want to have a number of websites, all tackling different niches, so all aiming to a different market. But once I have built many websites, where I review the products I believe in, I must also ensure that I make people out there aware that I have just posted a review – and in doing so, I would want to use social media for promotional purposes. In other words, I must market my business proactively, and never wait for customers to come to me. Because if potential customers do not know about my business, they are never going to be given the opportunity to become my customers!
#3. Keep learning
When working within a corporate environment, you will be proposed courses and training which will keep you up to date with the latest developments in the business industry you are working in. Sometimes, as it’s often the case in the public sector, your boss will just tell you you have to attend that training – and whether you believe it is relevant to your role or not, well, tough.
As a home worker, you must source that learning independently. You must ensure you are kept up to date with the latest selling techniques, or with the latest software packages if you work online, or with the most up to date teaching material, if your job is freelance mentoring – just to mention but a few examples.
And of course you might have to invest in courses and in training tools. In doing so, you need to ensure your investment is one that will pay off eventually, by making you more competitive in whichever your field of expertise is going to be.
#4. Self discipline
The majority of us that love to work from home, do so because we love the flexibility, independence and freedom we gain from not having any boss but ourselves to be accountable to. The ideal picture for potential home workers is the one of us working whilst slouched on the sofa and wearing our favourite slippers. Without discipline, however, you may slip down the dangerous road of lack of productivity.
You will still have deadlines you need to maintain as requested by customer or to retain a healthy and successful business.
Not only that. But sticking to a flexible routine helps you with a positive attitude toward your working day, which in turn will turn you more creative and proactive toward your job.
Benefits of being a remote worker
Remote workers are those people who are employed as part of a corporate business, but are given the opportunity to work from home. And again, there are benefits and downturns to this type of working environment, and it will be your job to find out whether this is for you.
Working for a corporate company or in the public sector, no matter whether you have a busy workload or a period of quiet, you will always have the guarantee of a salary.
Not only that, but depending on your contract of employment, you may have sick periods paid for, as well as a paid for period of annual leave. And a lot of companies offer pension schemes!
I have worked in both corporate and public sector for many decades, and I can quite honestly say that the benefits of working for an employer do not come ‘cheap’.
As an employee you will always have to negotiate your personal needs against the needs of the company you work for. I cannot remember the number of school events I have had to miss, when my son was taking part in a show or in a sports day. And I have lost count of the times I had to beg for time off when my son came down with flu and I had nobody else that could look after him, when he was a kid.
To this day, if I need to see a doctor or the dentist, I have to ensure my appointment is either at the beginning or at the end of the day. If I can only get an appointment in the middle of the day, I am frowned upon, and sometimes I’m told I cannot take time off. And do not start me on the subject of booking holiday, which I can only do provided the service is covered and my needs do not clash with the ones of other colleagues!
I could not make it plainer in words. You work for others, you are bound to their terms and conditions of employment. Which in many case are a lot!
Requirements for remote working
The main requirement is for you to find an employer that will allow you to work remotely from home. This is not easy task, as many employers are still reluctant to let go of having staff sitting at a desk, to ensure they are productive at all times. Other employers shield behind the idea that the nature of their business requires that you are available on site rather than managing the job virtually.
Naturally sometimes this is true. But, even when your role demands that you are front desk, such as in my current job as a customer adviser, compromises can be reached, where you can be working from home when you are to serve customers online or over the phone, whilst going to work on those days that you are scheduled to meet customers face to face.
However another requirement, provided you are allowed to work remotely, is that your home equipment be adequate enough to sustain the data exchange between your home internet connection and the more powerful servers a business may be provided with.
Finally, there is always the risk that you are missed out by colleagues in being kept up to date with the latest information (or why not, gossip!) as you are based remotely. It will be your job therefore to ensure that people at work do not forget about you – create a communication system that will ensure so.
Ideally, a balance of the two
After working full time at a corporate and public sector level, I am now trying to build that fine balance between retaining my customer services role with my employer on a part time base, and using the remaining of my working week to make my online business successful from home.
Why not go ‘solo’ straight away? Because it takes time to make a self-employed business successful and to monetise from it in such a way that it may replace my current salary and gives me sustainable financial security.
I am still working mostly for my employer. The plan is to see my home-based business grow a little bit more to propose to my employer to reduce my hours further.
At the moment, although I have proposed remote working, my employer feels the scheme cannot be applied to my role. Who knows, maybe one day things will change. But until then, and until I can afford more financial freedom, I shall keep enjoying the perks of a secure salary, whilst nurturing my online business – just like a mother would want to see her baby grow into a healthy boy and man.
Do you think you would ever be suited to take the risks of home-based working? Or are you more of a corporate person, with all its benefits and restrictions? Share your opinion, leave a comment below to let me know how you feel about both options.