Working from Home

Working from Home is a Delusion for Wannabe Entrepreneurs

by Alex Papa on November 15, 2010 · 30 comments

Delusional people love the idea of working from home. So much so that they google “work from home” 2.2 million times every month.

Once they start working from home, they’ll realize that it’s one of the worst parts about being an entrepreneur.

Today, Alex Papa from Business Opportunities Expo is going to pinpoint five pitfalls of working from home and how you can avoid them.

1. Where’s My Secretary?

The euphoria of being your own boss dissipates when you realize that you are also your own secretary, receptionist, publicist, marketer, human resources director, accountant, etc.

When you work for a corporation, all these things are handled for you. It’s more overwhelming than you could have imagined, and your dream of spending more time with your friends dissipates with your entrepreneurial euphoria.

Solution – Outsource small tasks or hire a virtual assistant.

2. Free Time is Nonexistent

As you become more successful, you will have to work even harder, putting in more hours, getting less sleep, spending less time with the family, and spending more time worrying about your business decisions.

Your time is spent in front of the PC, opting for a sandwich at noon and a hurried, litany-laden dinner at night. Then it’s back to the office for more calls and emails.

The next morning, you are back at the computer by seven and the cycle begins again. This is not what you thought it would be.

Solution – Set and acknowledge a quitting time. There will always be more you can do. Don’t postpone your life.

3. Work and Home are Inseparable

When you work at an office, you shut down everything at five and go home to a totally different environment.

Now, your work is at home. Even if you just have a laptop in the family room, you will be checking your emails, calling clients or freelancers, and writing blog posts.

Your mind doesn’t shut down either; it’s always mulling over what you did or didn’t do today, and what you have to do tomorrow.

Solution – Get up in the morning, eat breakfast, take a shower, and get dressed for “work” before you get on your computer. Then put change into your pajamas when you’re done.

4. Your Parents don’t Respect your Work

Have your parents ever told you to “get a real job”?

They come home from work and have no idea how hard you’ve been working. Since you’ve been home all day, they assume you’ve just been watching TV and playing Call of Duty. When in reality, you’ve been working just as hard as your parents and will continue to work well past their bedtime.

Solution – Explain what you do all day to your parents.

5. Home Distractions Cause Daily Failures

Your home is designed to be distracting. It’s meant to be a place where you can relax and occupy your time with fun activities.

Trying to work at home is like trying to make an important phone call at a concert. Every time you lose your focus, it could take 20 minutes before you gain it back again.

Solution – Establish a dedicated workspace.

On the flip side…

Three of the world’s top 25 brands started in a garage.

It can be done. If you know what to expect, what NOT to do and how to avoid the pitfalls of running a home based business, you’re more likely to be successful.

Which Three Big Name Brands Started in a Garage?

How World’s Top 25 Brands Got StartedTake a guess at which companies that you see everyday started in a garage:
How World’s Top 25 Brands Got Started >>

Photo by slworking2

{ 30 comments }

1 Quanta November 15, 2010 at 6:14 am

Ohh man, superb article!!! Keep it up…

2 Nick Tart November 15, 2010 at 3:19 pm

I appreciate the “Ohh man”, Quanta!

3 Alex Papa November 15, 2010 at 12:22 pm

Thank you, this article was a “joint-venture” between Nick and me. I provided some ideas based on years of personal experience in the home-based industry. Nick helped a lot in editing and creating the final article. Thank you!

4 Nick Tart November 15, 2010 at 3:23 pm

Joint ventures are the future of business! I’m seeing more and more commercials that are advertising more than one brand. Companies are realizing that there is a lot of value in collaborating… The same goes for blogging, Alex… Also, you’d be surprised by how many books are ghost-written these days. Thanks for the post!

5 Extreme John November 15, 2010 at 1:14 pm

Haha Alex your so right. When I first started our business I worked from home, the first 6 months it was great and even up to almost a year I was able to stand it. That was it, we now have a 3,000 sq.ft office we call WORK OUTSIDE OF HOME.

Now when I actually “work from home” I enjoy and appreciate it.

6 Alex Papa November 15, 2010 at 2:46 pm

I know what you are saying John. There is so much talk about “working from home” until people start getting too big to be working from home.
If you don’t want to be a sole operator and wish your business to expand, you’ll eventually have to move the business outside the home.

7 Justin Germino November 15, 2010 at 1:29 pm

Good article, and this doesn’t just apply to Entrepreneurs but to full time telecommuters as well. Often when you work from home you integrate work/home life even more and separation becomes more difficult.

Creating start/stop times and routines are important as well as a separate home office where you can isolate yourself from distractions is key. Take the time to treat yourself to a breakfast, shower, shave…etc like you would for a normal job is something I forget to do myself sometimes and too many days I woke up in the same PJ’s I went to bed in the next evening without ever changing while working from home.

8 Nick Tart November 15, 2010 at 3:25 pm

Haha! Wearing out our PJ’s is a common problem amongst entrepreneurs and telecommuters alike. I bet we go through them three times faster than the average person. Thanks for the insight, Justin!

9 Alex Papa November 17, 2010 at 7:58 am

haha, Justin! It’s been years since I worked in my PJs during the day. I get up and dress and go to the office early in the morning. Obviously you are not married with kids! When you are blessed with a wife and children, you’ll love to get out of the house to an office for a few hours a day! Having your own space while you work and then shutting down in the evening to go back to see your kids is awesome! Stay and work from home, while the kids turn the place into a playground will soon cause “fights”. You want to avoid this… Trust me! :)

10 himanshu chanda November 15, 2010 at 4:31 pm

The points raised are well. What one needs to understand is that he or she is really not at home!!

They are just in any other office where they are not paying rent. If the seriousness towards work goes off while working at home it can cost way much than what it can save :(

11 Nick Tart November 15, 2010 at 5:54 pm

Yep! The “Work From Home” epidemic is seizing people around the world into thinking that that’s what they want. It’s the same concept as a home gym. Great concept, but no one actually uses those things.

12 Alex Papa November 17, 2010 at 8:02 am

That’s right – Good point Nick! I never actually thought of “working from home” as “working out at home”. It is difficult to do a proper work out at home for the same reasons it is difficult to discipline yourself and do a proper 8-hour work in your own house.

13 Sheila Atwood November 21, 2010 at 8:13 am

Nick,

I love the gym analogy. It is so true.

I have always worked from home. Some of my businesses take me out of the home, like my property management business, but I am home based.

Alex,

It really takes dedication, organization and planning to get a home based business to the make break point of not having to put the super long hours in. All though it may sound like the ideal scene there is much more than meets the eye. Like handling your business structure, taxes and like you say, the distractions.

14 Nick Tart November 21, 2010 at 2:35 pm

Nicely put, Sheila! People who work in an office want to work at home. And people who work at home would rather work in an office. Do you have any other tips for working from home?

15 Paul November 16, 2010 at 8:34 am

Office space is EXPENSIVE though, man. Working from home may not be the dream some imagine it to be – but it might be one of the things that you have to endure on the journey of growing your business.

16 Nick Tart November 16, 2010 at 9:45 am

Hey Paul! I agree with you. Not only is it something we have to endure, I think entrepreneurs should work out of their homes for as long as they possibly can.

I have a friend who had 10 employees coming to his home to work every day before he bit the bullet and leased office space. This is part of the reason that Alex wanted to write this post. Because he knows that working from home has lots of problems associated with it, and he wanted to help entrepreneurs solve those problems.

17 Mike Peach November 16, 2010 at 9:28 am

I think you miss the point here. Rather than trying to separate work and play in the home environment and creating entirely worthless frustrations, you should talk about integrating the two.

My generation (and all those that preceded it in recent times) separated ‘work’ from ‘play’, this is now completely unnecessary. I work from home with my family and would never dream of taking an office. I chat to my kids while answering emails, make lunch while talking to clients and sit by the pool while brainstorming. All the while our kids can see and learn what their parents do to ‘bring home the bacon’ so to speak.

Hundreds of years ago people worked from home as tradesman etc and involved their families in their businesses. It is a fairly recent phenomena that we went off to a different place specifically to ‘work’.

So aim to integrate work into your home and family lives rather than trying to separate them and it will become immediately beneficial.

18 Nick Tart November 16, 2010 at 9:58 am

Hey Mike! Cool name! As someone who has worked in an office away from your family, I’m sure you think working from home is the best thing in the world. I can’t speak for Alex, but for me, I’m just a bratty kid who complains about the downsides of having the opportunity to work from home.

We were merely trying to point out that there are a lot of distractions at home that aren’t in an office environment. I bet it’s great to have your kids running circles around you while you’re replying to emails, but surely that must have a negative effect on your productivity? Or maybe I just have ADD because I get distracted by things that aren’t even moving. ;)

I appreciate the response.

19 Alex Papa November 17, 2010 at 8:26 am

Hi Mike, thank you for expressing your opinion based on your business/family experience.
I wonder how long you have you been working from home. Are you operating as a self-employed individual, like the tradesmen did hundreds of years ago, or do you operate a business system with staff and employees working for you? Where are they based? Do you spend your day managing tasks (like asnwering emails) or managing people?
Is what you have been “building” while working from home a saleable system that is both optimized and automated or is it something that will disappear when you retire, unless of course your kids decide to take over from you?

20 Mike Peach November 17, 2010 at 9:33 am

Hi Alex, good questions. Let me see…

We have a few employed staff and deal with 1099 contractors on a daily basis. They all either work from home (Although some work from their trucks) We manage both staff and tasks. Meetings are arranged either here, at home or at cafes / coffee shops.

I have never really sat down and consciously thought about what we are building as such. We just thought we had something to offer, started from scratch and have made adjustments as we went along.

One business operates locally and another runs out of the UK (I am English) eventhough we currently reside here. All transactions for the UK business are conducted online with occasional admin help from family members.

We have had offers for the business but we are not considering selling in the short term so I guess we have built something of value without really thinking about it.

I love the idea of microbusiness, bootstrapping, location independence and the freedom offered by the internet. I find the blog posts from young entrepreneurs on your site inspirational and it would be great if you could get these people into schools to present to other children / teens to let them know they have other options open to them other than Birth/School/College/Uni/Job/Retirement/Death. Teachers seem completely unaware of the new opportunities that are, or are going to be available to their students going forward.

I think, having read the articles, that I am going to actively seek out youngsters locally who may need some mentoring/microfinancing to get small businesses off the ground and try to help out.

Keep up the good work.

Mike

21 Alex Papa November 18, 2010 at 11:07 pm

Mike, that is truly awesome. Most people working from home all they achieve is to create a big “job” for themselves. They enter into the sphere of self-employment, rather than business. As you will know, a business is a system, that over time can gain equity or monetary value. It is having something to “show” to potential buyers, investors in terms of worth, people and/or “brick and mortar”.

If you have managed to create this system (while based entirely at home) I feel it is exceptional!

You will need to share your knowledge and know-how with people. For instance, most home-based entrepreneurs struggle to convince their partners (wife/husband) that they can work from home and resentment often grows in a heartbeat. How did you get your wife on board – was that hassle free, if not, what issues were caused and how were they dealt with?
Where you working from home – building a sizeable business-while your kids were babies? As most parents know, babies take time effort, energy and demand attention, especially if you work beside them at the pool or living room. Where there times that you had to lift the babies and “throw” them into their room, for you to deal with that important customer phonecall? If that was not the case, how did you manage to get the kids to give you “peace and quiet” to do serious work the moments you had to?

How do you advise a solicitor, accountant, architect, softwarecoder, PR specialist to manage to effectively work from home and deal at the same time with a 2-year old and a 3-month old suffering from reflux, while the wife is at work and he is “stuck” at home with them preparing meals and clearing vomit? If you had kids you will know that minding these kids is a very hard, full-time job by itself!

Please share!

22 Andrew @ Blogging Guide November 18, 2010 at 12:01 am

Yes, why not have a dedicated workspace. I work from home and I separate the two by having a room that’s dedicated for work and as mentioned, I also set specific hours for work and I dress for work. I also put up a do not disturb sign on my office door if I really can’t be disturb and it works really well.

23 Nick Tart November 18, 2010 at 12:14 am

Hey Andrew! Good to know that these solutions are actually being used as solutions… I need a ‘Do not disturb’ sign to wear around my neck in coffee shops!

24 Bryan November 18, 2010 at 1:04 am

Hey Alex,

Great read here. I like the part when you said you are also your own secretary, receptionist, publicist, marketer, human resources director, accountant, etc. That is so true. That is why I think you can’t do everything yourself and the best thing to do is to get a VA or outsource part of your business to someone else and focus on what’s most important. I’ve read somewhere that you choose 3 main things to focus on that will help with your business significantly.

Everyone should wake up from the disillusion of an easy life working from home.

25 Michael February 8, 2011 at 5:20 am

I agree completely with what you are saying. Working from your home isn’t as nice as many people hope. When in a working environment such as an office you have few distractions. At home you have tvs, iPods, phones, and all sorts of other devices to keep you from working. I find it best to keep these distractions out of view when working or else you’ll be wasting time with them. Number two is a great point, I am guilty if of it myself. Getting so worked up about getting as much done as possible and you wind up barely doing anything.

26 connie@ Designer Mens Wear UK March 28, 2011 at 7:03 am

This is a great post, and most definitely very accurate and true. It is definitey not easy to work from home, too much time is required and a lot of effort. It definitely cannot happen if you have family around.

27 James@ Boutique hotel Tunbridge Wells March 28, 2011 at 7:06 am

This is definitely a very true comment@ connie,. It is overly difficult to work from home especially when your family always expect your time, and then do not take your job seriously.

28 Alex April 8, 2011 at 2:34 pm

So true about the parents… They finally got it when I showed them my brand new bmw M3 :D My grandparents still don’t believe me, they think I’m dealing drugs or won the lottery. (Seriously) When I got some really serious issues to handle, I work in my suit even though I’m not going to leave the house all day. Helps me to be more focussed. I really try not to work more than 10 hours a day, but I fail miserably at it… I really love the part that I can work whenever I want. If I want to go to the gym in the middle of the day, or enjoy the sunshine, I just do it and catch up on work in the evening. The most important thing for an entrepreneur is to find a healthy balance between work, family and fun.

29 Nicholas Tart April 8, 2011 at 5:23 pm

Hey Alex! I love that you work from home in your suit!

30 Andrew Walker June 8, 2011 at 3:12 am

Hi Alex
Maybe some people choose to work from home, due to the distance. And it will save the energy a lot. And of course can save the money either. We have technologies why don’t we use it. But, thanks for sharing that.

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