Starting a Business From Home

If you’re toying with the idea of starting a business from home, chances are you are finding that full-time work in an office is not really compatible with being a hands-on parent. So why not take control over both spheres - work and home - by combining them?

Being your own boss has an appeal to it that’s very hard to deny. Many moms dream of having the kind of freedom that starting a business from home will give them. For them, it represents a unique opportunity to be closer to their kids while keeping their career on the go. But not everyone is ideally suited to this kind of career path. You have to ensure that you can face the challenges that will be thrown in your way.

Challenges to starting a business from home

Starting a business from home can be a risky proposition. You need to be well informed about the market and the competition, and stay on top of new developments that take place. Problems could arise at any turn, but then fantastic opportunities could also come up.

You also need to be prepared to live without a steady income. That is not to say that you won’t make money - you will, if you’ve chosen your service or product carefully. But the start-up may require investment from your own resources, and you should expect that it will take you around one year to start making regular profit. Till then, earnings will probably be erratic, up one month and down the next.

So you’ll have to plan ahead and have excellent money management skills. You’ll also need the support of your family, as you might find that you are investing a lot of your time, money and energy with not much return at first.

Sarah, 37, started working from home when her kids were four and seven. “I just couldn’t take the whole stressful work/stressful home routine anymore. I was always running, and yet still felt guilty that I wasn’t there for my kids,” she says. Sarah quit her job and started working from home, developing a course for moms who wanted to introduce new languages to their kids at a young age. “At first, it seemed like a terrible idea. I was working really hard and yet had nothing to show for it. Through the four months it took me to produce the first set of modules, all I had were outgoings, no income, and our bills were mounting up. But as soon as I sold the first set of courses, we were back on track. It’s just a case of having faith that someone really needs your product and is willing to pay for it. And patience. A LOT of patience.”

Finally, it’s paramount that you create an environment at home that allows you to work efficiently. Starting a business from home can be very hard. You’ll have to be self-motivated, of course - no lying in bed all morning! - but you’ll also have to be able to distance yourself from disturbances and the everyday noise of a family home. Try to find a space where you can work in peace, and explain to the family that they should respect your work hours.

Ally, 29, decided to start a home business once she realized she wouldn’t be able to go back to work with two small kids, aged two and three. She had always been great with flowers and all things green, so she decided to set up a business creating floral arrangements for offices, hotels and homes. “I don’t necessarily need complete peace and quiet to work,” she explains, “but I definitely need the kids to stay OUT of my work area. There are so many supplies, flowers, sponges, not to mention dangerous things like scissors and secateurs… it’s just not a good idea to have kids around.” Ally converted the conservatory at the back of the house into her workspace and enlisted help to ensure her children would not enter that space while she was working. “I have a part-time nanny who comes three days a week, and the rest of the time family members help out. My mom is over most days to help watch the kids too. It’s great, because otherwise I’d never get anything done!”

Both Sarah and Ally’s stories show that even though the will to succeed may be there, it’s important to have a plan for dealing with the challenges that arise when you are starting a business from home. But with the right kind of support from your family, you can be certain of unparalleled success!

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