As I have learned in the last seven years, there are three distinct stages of a work from home business.
Stage 1: Filling Your Schedule So You Don’t Need a Traditional Job
I worked two jobs while filling my schedule with clients. By doing this, I was able to offer my services as a freelance writer a little bit cheaper than others. That doesn’t mean that I did so at a severe detriment. My goal was to get the feedback I needed on Upwork (then known as oDesk) to make other clients more comfortable to even talk to me. I also wanted to gain experience and…fill my schedule. As my schedule would fill, I would raise my rate.
Stage 2: Finding the Slow Spots in the Year and Know How to Fix Those
I learned in the first year or so after ditching my day jobs that my particular areas that I worked in tended to slow waaaayyyyy down around the holidays. And it freaked me out. Of course, there are options:
- Get a part-time job (not really an option for me with a disabled child who cannot speak. I don’t like daycare. We decided a long time ago he was NEVER going to daycare. His older brothers never went, either).
- Get a seasonal job (rinse and repeat the above).
- Save money (we did – yet when you also have three kids, one of which has special needs and you own a home, it seems like something always goes wrong. We still save).
- Plan ahead now that I know there is a slow period in my year.
I chose the last option when I noticed a pattern. I started looking for additional work in late summer. As someone who is known as a lifestyle freelancer, my goal, initially, wasn’t six-figures each year. It was to be available for my family and to be able to support them (check and check…and I do better financially than I did teaching college and working as a paralegal; that should tell you all you need to know about teaching). Of course, I had other reasons why I needed to make this work, but that’s not the point of this post.
So, once you examine when your year and when things tend to slow down for you, start looking early for extra work. It can be flat rate work. It can be additional hourly contracts. It doesn’t have to mean that you shut down your other contracts, either. It never hurts to have more work when you know there’s going to be a lull.
Stage 3: Too Much Work & No Good Contractors Around
I’ve been in this stage for what seems like forever. People have all the excuses (they call them reasons – and they are rarely reasons…) in the world for why they can’t or won’t do something. Or they just flat out “ghost” you and then come back later saying how much they still want to work with you (super annoying, by the way). If you stay on top of your game, you get to the point where you have so much work via referral or hustle that you have to scale and bring on people (either you start an Upwork agency or you have private clients…if you do not have an Upwork agency, it is against Upwork Terms of Service to outsource your Upwork projects to other contractors. Do not do that. I am strictly speaking of hiring other contractors for non-Upwork clients.
And then potential work from home business owners wonder why clients fire them or don’t want to hire them…if you cannot complete a project on time, complete it as the client wants it, stop returning messages, etc., no one will want to work with you. You must be dependable. End of story. If you are someone who wants to start a work from home business and someone like me gives you an opportunity, you should treat me like your client because that’s what I am.
Hiring contractors is what helps me scale to take my business to the next level to keep helping clients and other contractors (including new ones who are stay at home parents of special needs children, for example…or survivors of domestic violence looking for a way to have job security which is another reason why I started my business…in my state, it is legal to be fired from your job if you are a victim of DV). Yet, with no dependable contractors (and it has nothing to do with unemployment – this has been an issue for years), I just have to find ways to squeeze new clients into my schedule. I have four unanswered emails right now from yesterday (August 16, 2021) that came in late afternoon.
But, anyway, aside from my inserting my mini-rants, those are the three stages of a work from home business. I’m in stage 3…looking to scale and can’t because contractors simply aren’t dependable. The last ones I had…abused company tools. No bueno. Ever.