Wouldn’t it be lovely if everything in life was a cakewalk, including starting an online business? As with everything else that requires time, effort and investment, business start-ups have their ups and downs, or pros and cons. As Peter Parker’s dad in “Spider-Man” so wisely put it, “With great power comes great responsibility.” The same applies here, of course, although you probably won’t be slinging webs any time soon: More like filing papers, adhering to a schedule and staying on top of those taxes. Following is a work-from-home road map, if you will. Brace yourself for the wonderful joys and wretched woes of the home business lifestyle.
Pro: Flexible Earnings Potential
The thing that attracts many to the concept of working from home in the first place is the potential to earn more money, and on one’s own terms. There’s more to offer an online community and more potential customers to reach out to, which quickly translates to higher sales. Additionally, once you present trusted skills to an online client base and create an acceptable name for yourself, you’re in the driver’s seat where setting rates are concerned.
Con: Time Is Money
Don’t be fooled by the glitz and glam factor: Working for your self is tough, and they don’t call entrepreneurs “pioneers” for nothing. You will quickly learn that time is money, and lack of a schedule means you’re responsible for calculating your earnings potential within a given time frame then working within it to meet financial goals. There’s no riding the clock on this one, and what happens next is usually one of two things. Either you’ll learn to prioritize your time and use it wisely, or instead, you’ll end up browsing social media sites like Facebook and Twitter all day instead of buckling down until your business tanks. Also, don’t forget about taxes: You’ll need to make sure you subtract these from your earnings, as the IRS doesn’t take too kindly to those who forget about them.
Pro: Ultra-Lax Schedule
It is almost safe to say that once you start a home business, you will never miss another doctor’s appointment, parent/teacher meeting or mandatory social function again. Working from home means setting your own hours and playing by your own rules. Prefer to burn the midnight oil while the household is quiet? Go for it. Need structure, adhering to the old adage, “the early bird catches the worm?” No problem. Working from home is a blank novel: You write the chapters.
Con: The Laws of Physics Still Apply
Things in stasis tend to stay that way, whereas objects in motion generally pick up momentum. So naturally, sitting on your can all day twiddling your thumbs is a big no-no and excellent way to sink further into laziness, not to mention pack on the pounds. You must work diligently to avoid this at all costs, because once you fall into this very wide pit, it’s not as easy to claw your way out. The advantages of self-scheduling are endless, but make sure actual work is on the itinerary. You may have to monitor your own progress periodically to keep up productivity considering no manager is going to glance over your shoulder.
Pro: Be Your Own Boss
There are those in life that graze with the herd, and then there are those that shoot off towards hazardous terrain in search of better grass. Even if this new grass proves identical to that of the herd’s, it still tastes sweeter because it was earned independently while challenges were met. These “free-grazers” are the freelancers and entrepreneurs of society, and working at home has similar appeal. Ambitious, single-minded achievers have the drive and confidence to take an immediate leap while others prefer to test the waters. Whichever way you go about it, it’s eventually hard to resist the freedom and satisfaction that comes from controlling your own daily routine, finances and destiny.
Con: Deadbeat Clients
Things are going great. No nagging boss is breathing down your neck, you’re finding freelance work left and right, and all of your goals are being met right on schedule. Here’s the clincher: Last month’s client has yet to pay up and you’re ready to splurge on that vacation. The thing about clients is that working with them can be a tossup. Most clients are more than willing to articulate guidelines, work with you to meet a common goal and provide constructive feedback. Occasionally, however, you’ll run across some clients that are just a bundle of joy to deal with. There are the ridiculous demanders, the ones that go missing in action and provide little to no feedback, and the worst clients of all; the ones that don’t pay up. Establish firm deadlines from the get go, and make sure you get each and every client to sign a written contract. Legally binding documents are scary and have a tendency to motivate compliance.
Pro: Larger Customer/Client Pool
There’s this mind-blowing, progressive thing that all the cool kids are doing and it just so happens to be called “the Internet”. Jumping on that bandwagon has massive benefits, especially where career is concerned. Anyone who plans to start their own business would be half batty not to utilize a tool capable of raking in potentially massive earnings. The Internet is like an instant gateway to the rest of the world, and with roughly two billion people and counting populating planet Earth, the only excuse for a home business to dwindle is a pitiful marketing campaign.
Con: Increased Competition
Being on a global playing field is sometimes a great way to lose the work-from-home game. You’ll need to watch out for unfair wages, as well as pesky competitors who have the right idea that happens to be the same idea as yours. Differentiation is key, which can be somewhat difficult to achieve. You’ll have loads of thinking outside the box to do so that your website, products or skills stand a cut above the rest. There’s another little problem with the online workforce that can put a kink in your plans to live like a Rockefeller, and that’s unfair market value. This applies especially to those that provide contract work by providing a trade, such as programmers, graphic designers and writers. Overseas workers willing to complete the same projects for less quickly devalue the industry and drive prices down. Just don’t waver on your rates and you’ll attract clients that value quality over quantity.
Pro: No Commute
You probably won’t miss the exhaust fumes that penetrated your lungs during the annoying traffic standstill you engaged in daily to get to and from work. Lounging in pajamas is optional, as is getting really comfy and cozy on the couch if it feels right at the moment. This aspect of working from home can feel like a luxurious godsend.
Con: Desert Island Syndrome
Don’t go catatonic in front of your computer, because there’s that risk. Lack of social interaction is inevitable if you don’t work a nine to five but it’s also a health hazard. Take breaks and visit the outside world periodically to save your sanity. Increased social outings with friends and family can do you good.