There are a couple of things that are not as glamorous when you start working from home – many challenges you have to deal with on a daily basis.
And although not everybody will face the same challenges, here are some of the more common ones…
1) Self-discipline / Self-management.
Do you also find it is much harder to stay on task in a home office when there is no one watching over your shoulder?
It is easy to get distracted – even with the best intentions. A friend can show up unexpectedly; or you need to run to the shop for bread and milk; or there is a party coming and you need a new outfit; or the washing is piling up and you need to attend to it; or you lose yourself on the Internet and in social media.
There are so many things that can test your self-discipline at home.
If you also struggle with this type of self-discipline / self-management, possible solutions can include to….
Plan your day and set some rules – mostly for yourself.
Show up at your “office” at the same time each morning. Block out the times you will work and then stay focused on the tasks at hand. When you are in your office, you work.
When you know you get lost on the Internet, set a timer and limit yourself to the set time frame to search the Internet or to work on your social media.
Schedule specific breaks for times when you need to do the washing or other household tasks, and limit trips to town for weekends and after hours when your “work day” is over.
Another big challenge of working from home is that…
2) You’re “always” at work.
This is the one challenge that I struggle with the most. I often allow the temptation to work too much sneak into the picture. It is easy to quickly check some email while cooking dinner or run to the computer when you have a few minutes, or take work with you everywhere you go…
Technology even allows me to take my work on vacation (much to the frustration of my family).
Possible solutions when you feel “always” at work:
The easiest way to separate work from family life is to set rules and to have SPECIFIC working hours as the first wave of defense. But do it in such a way that it fits your lifestyle, because that is the only way you will really stick to those rules and working hours.
A schedule that works for me is to mainly work in the mornings. The afternoons are usually occupied by my daughter, and playing “mom’s taxi”. I rarely get to do any work during the afternoons and early evenings when the whole family is together. But, at night when everybody goes to bed and the house is quiet, I can return to my office and put in another 2-4 hours of working time.
If you are like me, one of the reasons we started a home business is to be more available to the family, right?
So we need to create some balance – even when it is difficult. Apart from setting work hours and rules for yourself regarding your business, also create a rule to “be in the moment” with your family.
Train yourself that when you are in the office, you work. But when you are with your family, you are fully present with them – not thinking and worrying about uncompleted work still waiting for you. Simply have fun as a family and create time to talk to each other.
The third big challenge I see all around me is…
3) Staying professional.
Working from home inherently lends itself to feeling less professional than when you have to dress up and go to a more formal office environment. And to add to this, many of our clients – especially when we work with corporate clients – sometimes also struggle with the idea that we can still be professional working from home.
Things that can diminish the professional image you want to portray are the way you answer your phone, or your appearance when we have a video Skype session with a client. Also a lot of background noise when you speak to a client on the phone or via Skype – noises like children playing and shouting in the background, the dog barking outside the window, the TV or radio playing.
Possible solutions to remain professional can include…
To have a dedicated workspace, preferably in a room with a door you can close to block out background noises.
If space is a problem, be creative to find somewhere you can put a desk away from the noisiest areas of the house, and or schedule client appointments at times that you know the house will be relatively quiet.
When you answer your phone, do it in a way that instills trust. Don’t just say Hi or Hallo. Always include your name as well, so that the caller knows he’s talking to the right person.
And when you have a meeting with a client – even if it is via Skype, dress up and apply some make-up. When you feel good about yourself, it boosts your confidence levels, shows you take your business and clients seriously and might even help to clinch the deal with a new client.
Lastly, one of the biggest challenges with your own business is you have…
4) No fixed income.
Many women start their new business to be in control of their financial destiny. This financial destiny can be very rosy, but it can also be disastrous for some.
Working from home inevitably means that you do not have a fixed pay-cheque every month. Your income varies from month to month and especially in the beginning, it is difficult to earn the same you’ve earned while working in corporate.
A possible solution can be to…
Evaluate your situation before you start your VA business. Are you the sole provider for your family? Do you have a savings fund that is big enough to pull you through six months without any income from your business? Do you have a spouse that can take care of your day-to-day living costs for an indefinite period until your business is sustainable and profitable?
If not, consider not quitting your job immediately. Rather start your VA business part-time because you need to live first. It’s quite stressful living off your savings and seeing it reach a point where you are forced to take up employment again.
When you are already in business and feel that your financial situation is not what you expect it to be, try to improve on your marketing, and take a different approach if your current marketing is not working. The only thing that will turn your financial situation around is to get more paying clients.
I’m curious. What are some of the challenges you are facing when working from home and how do you deal with it? Share them with us in the comments below.
To Your success
PS: If the challenge of “ no fixed income” is something your struggle with, then here is a free resource and a very effective “get-more-clients-strategy” that might help you with getting new clients. Check it out, here.