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The Realities of Starting a Home-Based Business

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When most people think of working from home, they immediately think "freedom". And with that thought follows the thoughts of "freedom to do what I want, when I want", "freedom to set my own schedule", "freedom to sleep in or go have fun when I decide to"... the list goes on.

Once you've started your business though, you'll likely receive an immediate reality check. It doesn't work out quite the way you thought it would.

To some degree, the above comments are true in a home business environment but not always and sometimes not even often. Let's look at each statement and see how reality fits in.

"Freedom to sleep in or go have fun when I decide to"
If you have children, especially early risers or older children who have to get up and ready for school, you'll find that you can't sleep in. I have three school children and my day routinely starts at 6:00 - 6:30am. They get up early on the weekends too, so I rarely sleep past 8 - 9am even on Saturdays and Sundays.

If you have clients, partners or prospects who are in a different time zone, you'll find yourself receiving phone calls at 9am their time even if their time is three hours ahead of yours. This can be avoided to some degree by placing prominent hours of operation and time zone notices on your sales materials, but not everyone will see those. The easiest way to avoid this is to simply turn off your office phone during personal hours. If you do though, make sure you remember to turn it back on when you start work each day and check your voice mail regularly.

As for going out and having fun whenever you decide to... well, maybe. When you're first starting a business, you'll often find yourself stressed out or worried about making a success of things. When you're worried about generating income especially, it becomes pretty difficult to walk away from the office to just "go out and have fun".

"Freedom to do what I want, when I want"
When you start a business, you say goodbye to having a boss right? Wrong. In any business, clients and customers take on the role of boss. Yes, you have the freedom to choose who you take on as a client, and you have the freedom to tell your clients "No" when need be. In the beginning however, you won't find yourself saying no or being picky very often.

Let's say you decide to work only half a day so that you can spend the rest of the day running errands or cleaning the garage. Then you get a call from a client who needs something completed by the end of the day. Will you say no because you had other plans? Not likely especially if you need that work.

You sell products to customers you say? Ok, that can usually be fairly automated and hands-free particularly if you sell via a website. But guess what? Your Website can go down, your ordering or fulfillment processes can have hiccups and 20 customers can all have support questions on the same day. When one or more of these situations arise, do you think you'll ignore them for hours? Not if you're serious about generating income and building an established, reputable business.

"Freedom to set my own schedule"
Is this true? Absolutely. You can put anything, or nothing, on your schedule. You can even choose to not keep a schedule if that's what you prefer. Unfortunately you'll find that not having a schedule can lead to laziness but having a schedule can lead to stress and unreasonable expectations.

"Wha ... Huh??" It's true, and I'll explain.

Choosing not to have a schedule is the most common preference for new home-based business owners. You'll quickly find however, that no schedule can lead to no discipline. Your morning coffee and paper may blend into an afternoon tryst of TV and Tea. You might decide that since you've got some free time you don't have a schedule to keep, you can do this! You'll clean the kitchen cabinets. You've been trying to find time for that right? Or you'll do some laundry, call a few friends, curl up with a good book whatever. The point is, not setting a schedule can put you in serious jeopardy of not getting any work done.

On the flip side, to prevent laziness from creeping in you decide to schedule your day. So you really schedule your day. You decide that you want to work for 8 hours, and you cram as much as you can into those 8 hours. Then you get an unexpected call from a prospect that takes up 30 minutes you hadn't planned for that. Or one of your kid's gets sick and you have to stop what you're doing, go to school and pick them up (or nuture them if they're at home). You hadn't planned for that either hmm? Before you know it, you've lost 2 or 3 hours that were scheduled for business and you're scrambling to catch up. Too many days of this will burn you out, make you frustrated, and make you wonder why you chose to start a business in the first place.

With all of that said, should you just not bother starting your own business? Of course not. Do what you really want to do. Just know the realities involved and set appropriate expectations and plans.

"Our safety is not in blindness, but in facing our dangers." - Friedrich von Schiller

About the Author

2002, Kathy Burns.

This article is provided courtesy of The Home Based Business Directory - http://www.HomeOfficeFiles.com - You may freely reprint this article on your website or in your newsletter provided this courtesy notice and the author name and URL remain intact.

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