The increase in home-based businesses has been monumental in the past decade with now almost one million Australians earning an income from home.
The types of businesses that can be operated from home are only limited by imagination, just as the reasons for this growing trend are varied. Some people whose jobs are made redundant will be tempted to take the plunge into self-employment; others find it appropriate when children arrive; and there are those who do it to improve their lifestyle.
But can running a legitimate business from home really be a smart lifestyle choice?
If you spend hours commuting to and from your job every day, the chance to be your own boss and work from home might seem like Nirvana. Freedom to choose your hours, have more privacy, and being able to work by your own rules, are the obvious benefits.
Before trading in the designer pinstripe for a new set of shorts and sneakers, there are a few things to consider carefully.
- Working from home alone can be a lonely existence. Swapping emails and tweets is not really suitable daily communication and even phone calls can’t replace face-to-face relationships. It may not suit people who thrive on the social contact that comes from physically working with others.
- Self-motivation is also critical to success – however it works both ways. If the temptation to rise late and knock off early is too strong, or your attraction to the golf course too powerful, the discipline of an “outside” job may serve you best.
On the other hand, unless you locate your workspace away from your living area – and with a door that closes – you might find yourself working longer hours than necessary. While sitting down to dinner or playing with your child, how would you respond each time you hear a chime signalling the arrival of a new email? Will you have the discipline to work to set hours and totally disconnect from “the office” if it’s only a few steps from your bedroom?
- When you work for someone else they provide the support structure to help you work effectively – such as IT support and bookkeeping. Now you are on your own you have to do it yourself or pay someone else to do it for you. How would you survive if your computer crashed or your internet access stopped at a vital time? Working from home means being multi-skilled – how would that affect your lifestyle?
Our final tip is to talk to people who have made a success of working from home. Find out what it’s really like and how it complements their lifestyles. If the concept still ticks all your boxes, then the next thing you need to decide on is what type of business to start!
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