Running a business from home is not an easy option. There is no support team. Everything you do, you do alone. When the amount of work you have is overwhelming, you do it alone and long into the night. When the amount of work you have is lower, you worry that you’ll never work again – and the only person who can change the amount of work you have is you. When things go wrong, there is nobody to ask for advice except your long-suffering spouse, who you’d rather treat as a friend and lover than a colleague. (And when you move house, you can’t escape to the office but have to somehow carry on working with no desk amongst the endless phone calls and myriad boxes of belongings.)*
Putting family first, and always being there for school runs and school plays and home-from-school-sick-days and holidays, does not mean that your work is unimportant or non-existent. It means you have chosen, and are living according to, your priorities in life. Other people will not understand this and will assume you live a life of ease and luxury.
Working part time, or working around your family, does not mean that you will never earn very much. It means that you are likely to be much more productive in the time that you work, and able to earn proportionally more than you might have in a full time job. This means you will work hard, but it will be worth it. Anybody who does not live in the same house as you will not see this.
Having a partner with a job of his (her) own does not mean that (s)he will pay all the bills. You will be a partnership in the same way as two employed people are a partnership, each making a valuable contribution. You will be forever worried that your contribution might dry up, and will work ever harder to ensure that it doesn’t. Other people will not understand this either.
Living and working at home needs a lot of different skills and personality traits. Chief among them are:
Determination and bloody-minded persistence. This is possibly what other people refer to as ‘motivation’ when they ask how you manage to stay motivated. (They ask this at the same time as they are assuming that you spend all day lying around eating chocolate and watching daytime TV.)
Resilience. To bounce back from all the times a job doesn’t work out, or takes twice as long as you’d planned, or someone assumes that because they saw you out in the daytime you are a person of leisure.
Self-reliance. Because you’ll spend an awful lot of time in your own company so you might as well get on with yourself and trust your own instincts.
If you have those three traits, you’ll find that living and working at home can be great:
– You get to make all the decisions and follow your gut without having to explain yourself to anyone.
– You never have to sit at your desk till 5pm ‘looking busy’ until someone else determines that the day is over.
– You get to structure your own day, around the things, and people, that are important to you.
– You can take all the credit, because you did all the work.
– You get to make a living while still having a life.
Living and working at home isn’t easy. But it is worth it. What makes it hard for you? What makes it worth it? And what traits do you think you need to make it work?
*Ask me how I know! The new house and garden are lovely, thank you. The boxes are still in evidence and may be for some time.