For many people, starting a home-based business is the culmination of years of planning, yearning, and economizing. It almost sounds too good to be true. Your commute is the few steps from your bedroom to your home office. You are your own boss, and there is no one looking over your shoulder or dictating your schedule. You can take five minutes for lunch or five hours. You can start and end your workday whenever you like. You do not need anyone’s permission to take the afternoon off to attend an activity at your child’s school, catch up with an old friend who is in town, or take your pet to the veterinarian.
However, you may find yourself so overwhelmed by what you need to accomplish for your business that you have little time to enjoy the flexibility you thought your schedule would provide. At the end of every day, you consistently find a number of uncompleted tasks on your to-do list, so you have to move them to the next day. This means that you will not be able to accomplish everything on your schedule for the following day, so the process will keep repeating itself indefinitely. Alternatively, you could extend your workday to handle the tasks, but that could mean cancelling plans with your family or friends.
If you frequently end your day wondering where the time went or why you are not gaining the satisfaction you expected entrepreneurship to provide, it is likely that you are dealing with one or more of the challenges that are commonly faced by those operating a business from home. Ask yourself whether any of these apply to your situation, and then take the necessary steps to address them.
You have not sufficiently separated your home life and your business life
Many people who operate a home-based business enjoy the ability to multitask by handling household and business chores simultaneously. For example, they can start a load of laundry and let it run while they are preparing invoices or calling customers. However, someone once defined multitasking as the ability to simultaneously do more than one thing poorly. As an article posted at NPR.org explains, researchers have found that humans who multitask are actually switching their attention between the various tasks. If you are listening for the buzzer that tells you that the laundry is ready to be removed from the dryer, you are not totally focused on your work tasks.
Solution: When you prepare your schedule, include a block of time for handling household chores and a block of time for handling business tasks. During the time reserved for your business, avoid the temptation to tackle any task that is not directly related to your business.
You have not set boundaries for your friends and family
Since you are home, your friends or neighbors may assume that there is no harm in dropping by unannounced. Family members who reside in your household may not see any harm in interrupting you to remind you of a scheduled event or ask you for assistance. It is highly likely that it will take you a minute or two to refocus on your task after every minor interruption. You will probably need more time to regain your focus if you spend 20 minutes chatting with a neighbor or friend, and this is in addition to the time lost for the actual visit.
Solution: As diplomatically as you can, let people know that being home is not the same as being available. Ask them to show the same respect for your time as they did when you worked outside of your home. Tell them your working hours, explain that you must concentrate on your business during those hours, and stress that you are only to be interrupted in the event of a true emergency.
You feel lonely or isolated
For some people, interruptions play havoc with their work schedules. However, other people would welcome an occasional interruption. Their workplace just seems too quiet, especially if they have the house to themselves all day. Others miss the social and professional interactions that they experienced in a traditional office environment. They may also feel that they could be missing out on trends in technology or marketing.
Solution: If things seem too quiet, consider playing a CD for background noise. You could choose an audio recording of a gentle rain, a machine that generates white noise, or any other source of sounds that will soothe you without distracting you. If you are feeling isolated, attend an occasional seminar or trade show so that you can interact with others who work from home or who work in your industry. You should also include time in your weekly schedule to socialize with your friends and extended family, and your daily schedule should include time to spend with your spouse and children.
You spend too much time looking for things
Successful entrepreneurs tend to be highly creative people, and creative people are often not great at staying organized. You may feel that you are spending an inordinate amount of time searching for a quote from a particular vendor, for example, or the form that you received from the state to file your quarterly sales tax report.
Solution: Try to handle each piece of mail you receive only once; file it, shred or toss it, or act on it. Whenever possible, go digital. Ask vendors to send quotes as email attachments or sign up for a virtual mailbox and manage your mail online. When sending bids to your customers, use your computer to prepare and save them; do not print out a copy for your file unless it is essential to do so. If you want to save a manual, white paper, or other document that you think you might possibly need in the future, consider scanning it and tossing the original. Be sure to organize your digital materials into folders, however, or you will only be transferring your search to your computer.
You Are Failing to Take Care of Yourself
To succeed, you need to be mentally and physically healthy. Those who run a home-based business frequently forget to give themselves the care that they need and deserve. This can manifest in a variety of ways. Some people find that they spend all their time in their pajamas, going from bed to work and back to bed without showering or even combing their hair. Others fail to make appointments for routine physicals or periodic assessments of a chronic condition. Many home-based entrepreneurs find that their exercise routine has fallen by the wayside. It is also common for them to eat less-than-healthy meals or snack constantly throughout the day.
Solution: Take time to fit in at least a little exercise every day. Even a walk around the block can help. Plan your meals in advance so that you can maintain a balanced diet. Make and keep medical appointments, especially if you have a condition that requires medication or monitoring. Although you certainly do not need to report to your home office in a suit, at least shower and change into a fresh pair of pajamas or another type of comfortable outfit. Taking care of yourself physically can also benefit your mental health.
You have trouble getting people to take your business seriously
Your mother-in-law refers to your business as your hobby. Your neighbor asks when you are going back to work. Potential customers tune you out when they discover that you are a one-person company. You may not be able to get everyone to understand your goals and plans, but you do need your potential customers to take you seriously.
Solution: Make sure that you present a professional image. Instead of using your home address, consider signing up with a company that provides a virtual business address for your company. This will also help protect your privacy. You might want to consider hiring a graphic artist to design a company logo; there are numerous online sites where you can find freelancers to handle the task at reasonable rates. Have a separate phone number for your business. Record a professional outgoing message for your voice mail, and do not allow your young children to answer your business phone. When talking to potential clients over the phone, try to eliminate all noise from other parts of the house, including a blaring television, barking dogs, or loud music.
At PhysicalAddress.com, we offer a number of services for home-based businesses. Feel free to browse our site or call us at 844-888-6364 if you have questions.