Say that with me: “You pay for a hobby, you earn from a business.”
Better yet, make it personal: “I pay for a hobby, I earn from a business.”
I began working from home, part-time, almost 12 years ago, shortly after the birth of my oldest daughter. Back then, I ran a real estate company. Working from home provided flexibility and time with my baby girl. Nearly nine years ago, I transitioned to full-time work-from-home and I’ve never looked back. Through my experience and through watching thousands other entrepreneurs like me, I’ve gained a ton of “best practices for working at home.”
Working from home and owning a business are more prevalent and more popular these days and for good reason; the perks are phenomenal. However, many people succumb to the challenges of working from home. Make no mistake: working from home demands discipline, organization, and prioritization. To make money, you must run your business like a business, not like a hobby you pursue in your feel-like-it time.
As a business owner, you enjoy flexibility and autonomy. The independence associated with running a business is second-to-none; once you have a taste, you won’t go back. Four tips, then, to prime yourself for success and earning while working at home:
1. Set boundaries.
If you don’t respect your time, no one else will. Look at your calendar and analyze your time: what needs to get done and when? Block out time for hours of operation. Block out time for family events and needs, volunteer commitments, housework and errands. Sit down and discuss with your family; help them understand the importance of time discipline for your business. Get them on board and then stick with your commitment.
2. “Does what I’m doing right now generate income?”
It is easy to get distracted with the “fluff” activities of running a business. While part of the overall picture, they are not often directly correlated to making money. Income-producing activities can be challenging: making phone calls, asking for the sale, gathering referrals. They are necessary. If you’re spending too much time on fluff and not enough time on generating income, you’re not earning. Building a business is a numbers game. Income-producing activities are numbers you can track. Find your formula, know what you need to do to make money, and go do it.
3. Phone it in. When you’re home all day, you’re home all day, which means the dirty dishes, the piles of laundry, the toys, the vacuuming, the toilets, all stare you in the face. Hear me on this: housework fills whatever timeframe you give it. Don’t get distracted. Schedule your chores into your calendar, know that you’ll get to it when you get to it, then put your head down and focus on your business during business hours. Find ways to “phone it in”: order a meal delivery service for a couple nights a week, hire a housekeeper for a few times a month, enlist your kids and spouse to help. Prioritize your business and get help. If you’ve got little kids, hire a neighbor kid to play with them for a few hours after school so you can power through chores. (I’ve got a whole bunch of ideas to make “getting it all done” a bit easier. Watch for the list in a coming post.) Don’t waste business hours taking out the trash, folding laundry, loading the dishwasher, or worrying about dinner.
4. R&R: reset and reward. Working from home can be funky. It is easy to “circle the drain” when you’re on your own. Know what resets your mind and your body when you get off track: a quick walk, ten minutes of yoga, a few minutes of a favorite podcast or audiobook. Know yourself and how to reset. Similarly, when you get the work done, reward yourself. We crave the carrot. When you finish the call list, make the sale, or meet a goal, treat yourself to a reward, even a small one. Give yourself an “atta girl” when you deserve it. Then line up the next goal.
Working from home is worth it. When you manage your time and your priorities, you will reap success and income. Be honest with yourself and your family. Know when you’re at your best and attack when you’re in beast mode. Don’t leave your business or your income to chance: make a schedule, stick to it, and reward yourself when you get the work done. Hobbies are awesome, but they don’t pay the bills.