Each and every week, I’m sent probably half a dozen message requests from Facebook from people wanting to learn how to work from home. I’ve worked from home for several years. It’s not always easy. Of course, it’s harder when you’re first starting out. It’s not like there’s some guide that exists that explains how to take the right steps and successfully work from home. Even IF the book existed, most people wouldn’t implement it if they bothered to read it. (Edit: I wrote the fucking book. You can get it here.)
Often, the question I’m asked is how to be successful when working from home. Some messages will say just that. Others say something like how the person tried to work from home and couldn’t get into the swing of things. Oh, and then there are the people who decide I must be lying about working from home because…if they couldn’t do it, clearly no one can do it. Fucking rookies, man.
So, today…I’d thought I’d address 3 rookie work from home mistakes and how you can fix them.
Rookie Mistake 1 – You Don’t Implement What You’re Told
This list really isn’t in any particular order…and yet the most disastrous rookie mistake is the first one I list. Like I said, I get a lot of people who ask me how to make working from home work for them (which, by the way, is a central theme of my podcast: making working from home work for you).
There’s always someone who asks me for advice. So, I answer them in detail. I hear from them weeks or months later about how my advice didn’t work because they couldn’t get their work from home business off the ground. I ask them to explain how they implemented each step. There’s always at least one step where they will tell me what they did and it’s not at all what I told them to do. When I say that, their response is: “I like my way better.” Okay, cool. Do you like not having your own business better? Because that’s the result you got from your way.
When you are fortunate enough to spend time in person or chatting online with someone who owns a successful work from home business, be smart enough to implement what they say. Don’t “tweak” it. Don’t change “one thing.” Don’t “sorta” do it. If you can’t follow basic instructions from someone who takes the time to help you, there’s a damn good chance you won’t follow instructions from clients, either.
Fix: Follow the advice you’re given by successful people in your field.
Rookie Mistake #2 – You Think Business Should Automatically Come to You
Working from home and needing to support your family isn’t a compelling enough reason for people to seek you out. Frankly, how can they seek you out if you don’t market yourself?
Recently, someone told me they wanted to start a service-based business from home. If you’re unsure what a service-based business is, think about what I do. I provide services. My little enterprise is a service-based business. They wanted to do that because they “hate sales.” Well, if you’re uncomfortable with sales, you’re gonna have a hard time getting clients. You must market your business. You must market YOU. YOU are the business.
Clients cannot find you, let alone flock to you, if you don’t make it a point to market yourself. You can have the best business in the world with the best business practices, but if no one knows about it, you’re screwed.
Fix: Make getting your name and business out there your number one priority. Finding clients is your project until you have a project.
Rookie Mistake #3 – You Don’t Have Time
Hello. My name is Robin. Not only am I a bit neurotic, I’m also slightly obsessed with time management. Last week was spring break. Two of my sons were home (the other is 19). So, I had to balance my business responsibilities while doing things with them. We went to the zoo. We went fishing. We went to the park. We made big family dinners. We went to the gym to work out together. I got up by 7 am every day. I completed my personal morning routine. I got dressed. I planned my list (which, by the way, included finishing the editing of a textbook). I worked until about noon or so. We would go out as a family and do our thing. Then, come home and have dinner. Then, a lot of the time it was right back to work for me.
On non-school holidays, I get up between 6 and 7 am (unfortunately, I deal with a lot of chronic fatigue because of a heart condition. It is what it is.). I do my routine. I get dressed. I plan my day. I work until 11:40 am. I take a private yoga class and eat lunch. I take a 15 minute walk. I work until 4:30 or 5. I make dinner. I do whatever I need to do around the house.
What did you notice about my schedule? Did you notice that there’s no exact time for things aside from when I try to get up and when I do yoga? Time management is less about finding exact times to do something (unless you like doing that) and more about just making sure you do everything you need to do. No excuses.
I know, I know. Some of you right now: “Cool story, bro, but I work a full time job AND I have kids.”
You’re right – your excuse IS a cool story, bro. Once a upon a time, about five years ago…I was the office manager of a heat and air business. When I was offered an adjunct position as a paralegal studies instructor, I took it. I planned all my classes, I taught, I graded, I ran the externship program, and I tutored students. Eventually I started teaching nights, too. So, I’d be at the college from about 7:15 am and I’d go home usually around 11:15 pm. After my night contract ended, I started working part time at a law firm in addition to teaching. Oh, and since my children are now 19, 17, and 8 and this happened five years ago…you know they were still in existence.
Guess what? I still built my writing business. It was a lot of very early mornings, very late nights, and weekends. I did not take time away from the kids to do it. When they were awake at home, my attention focused on them. Know what I did? I turned off the TV. I put down the cell phone. I stayed off of Facebook.
Fix: Prioritization of activities is your friend.
Time management and proper planning are the keys to building a successful business.
Anyway, I have shit to do so that’s all I have for you today.