Working from home offers many benefits - financial and lifestyle. But there are pitfalls to avoid!
Working from home offers many benefits – financial and lifestyle. But there are pitfalls to avoid!

Tired of the commute? Want – or need –  to spend more time with your children? Work better at night or early morning than you do during the 9 to 5 stint? Maybe it’s time to work from home.

Today’s technology means that you can interact with others efficiently and effectively from anywhere in the world.

Email, fast internet, Skype, WorkSnaps and a plethora of other tools mean that you’re ‘right across the hall’ from anyone.  And that applies whether you continue as an employee or join the world of small business.

Lots of people have had great success working from home. But for many looking at that decision, it may seem daunting. The nagging question for most is, “Will I be able to focus, or will I be constantly distracted”.   If you’re in that group, or you’ve made the jump but are still facing too many hurdles, here’s the good news… success is just seven simple steps away.

Yes, you read that right – seven simple steps.

I did it; they did it. So can you.

These seven simple steps are based on my hard-earned experience. I made mistakes, lost a bit of skin (and money) but came out smiling. These seven tips worked for me and I’m sure they’ll work for you, too.

Step 1:   Allot space

Assign one part of your house as your work station. Make sure that it is comfortable and spacious enough for you to think and move in. You need a space that can accommodate all your work and not feel cramped.

This might work for some, but most of us need a devoted home-office work space to be efficient.
This might work for some, but most of us need a devoted home-office work space to be efficient.

It should also be free of distractions to keep you focused. If you live with a lot of people, opt for a room with a door that you can close. If there’s none, ask them to go somewhere else so you can work.

Your bedroom, living room or garage are all possible working spaces. Make sure they’re exciting enough to work in so you won’t feel any burnout. Remember that one of the advantages of working at home is you are your own boss. You control your own time unless you have a deadline.

Step 2:   Take advantage of technology

You will be working with technology, regardless of your business. You’ll need an internet connection to send your articles to a magazine, a smartphone or camera to take photos of your cake, and a fast notebook or desktop computer to let you see and create neon signages.

A good quality, high-resolution screen will help your work-flow. Being able to have multiple windows up simultaneously is a great advantage.

Like all tech, monitors get better and cheaper month by month. With a 3840x2160 pixel resolution, this 4K monitor will display all your apps simultaneously for less than $800!
Like all tech, monitors get better and cheaper month by month. With a 3840×2160 pixel resolution, this 4K monitor will display all your apps simultaneously for less than $800!

If you’re still not computer savvy, ask someone to teach you. You’ll get better at it through constant use. Hint: Ask your kids!

Technology will make you relevant if you’re into sales because you can use it to advertise and market yourself and products. You can get more assignments/sales if you can connect with others in an instant. Today’s technology promotes greater and wider reach in ways that were almost impossible just a decade ago.

Step 3:   Know your market

Having technology will help you analyze your intended target market. You have all the information that you need on the internet, from scholarly research to blogs or vlogs. Commit time every day to self-education. It will make you better in what you do because you know what the people want.

You should stand out from the rest in order to be noticed. If not, people might lose interest in what you have to offer and opt for others instead.

The presentation is important, too, because you need to convey your work online. How you present your work using text, photos, and videos is up to your creative judgment. As long as it’s able to convey your message, it’s fine. Use tools like Slidebean to stand out without having to make heavy financial commitments.

Step 4:   Process all the paperwork

Technology helps you to work faster. But you need proper documentation to work from home, especially if it’s your business. Depending on where you live and the scope of your activies, these are some of the documents that you need to obtain:

  • License to operate
  • Health permit
  • Tax identification numbers
  • Professional indemnity insurance; and
  • Public liability insurance

Even if you’re a freelancer, you probably still need to provide these documents to clients and government departments. They help prove that you are running something legitimate and not just a tax scam.

If you can’t process these documents yourself, have someone do it. Process them online if possible and budget for initial processing fees and annual renewals. Paperwork is important to avoid paying hefty fines.

There are excellent invoicing and accounting apps. Some, like WaveApps are free. You read that right – zip, zero, zilch expense.

Your office doesn't need to be big. It needs to be functional, inviting and comfortable!
Your office doesn’t need to be big. It needs to be functional, inviting and comfortable!

Step 5:   Learn new skills

You can expose yourself to new things with the help of technology. The internet, in particular, is a useful tutorial tool. Use it to learn new things and be an expert in the things you already know. You’ll be surprised at what you will accomplish.

Knowledge increases people’s trust in you because they know you’re capable. Trust is important when you’re working at home because you don’t have a superior who tells you what to do; just yourself and your abilities.

Use YouTube as your mentor. I am continually astounded at the quality of many presentations.

Step 6:   Know your strengths and weaknesses

Work with Steps 4 and 5 in mind. They’ll keep you grounded in what you do. Focusing on them will make you aware that there are things that you need to improve on. And when applied to your work, your clients will feel satisfied.

Use your strengths and weaknesses to your advantage. If it’s a weakness, it will make you adjust and reassess your performance. If it’s a strength, it will make you better in what you are already good at.

Step 7:   Hire help

Working from home is very satisfying because you are the boss – that is until the workload becomes too heavy for one person. When the stress starts to build, it’s probably time to open yourself to the possibility of hiring others to lessen your burden.

Of course, cash-flow is king and you need to be able to pay for your new overhead. But it may be a lot more affordable than you realise. Sites like Fiverr and Upwork will help you source quality remote assistants at very reasonable cost. You’ll even find highly qualified specialists able to help you to win that big client!

The important thing to understand is that it is counter-productive to commit time to $20 per hour tasks when you could be earning $60 per hour by focusing on what’s important.

The bottom line…

OK! I just gave you seven simple steps to success that I paid – either in hard yards or money, to learn. The ball’s now in your court, so to speak. What are you going to do about it?

When you have made up your mind and you’ve finally decided to take the big leap, learn how to make your home office productive by reading this article here.

And, if you have experience and ideas which you think can help others, share them with us via the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you.

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