Our features writer, Claire Burdett, is a qualified NLP coach and experienced businesswoman. Claire has hands on experience in all aspects of setting up a business and marketing it successfully and has agreed to share her expertise with Wikizine's readers.
You need the extra money and want to work, but you can't find a 'proper' job and anyway, you really want to be at home for the kids, especially since the divorce. You have the skills and the contacts. You even have the technical know how to set up a website and do your own marketing and sales.
But is working from home really workable? The answer is yes, as the huge amounts of home businesses in the UK at the moment testify. Yet many people still worry that they won’t be able to work at the same time as raising or caring for the children. And to be sure, some people can’t manage it, and much prefer to leave the house and escape to the relative calmness and structure of a 9-5 office.
For others, however, being the Director of Everything is perfect. And it is especially perfect for the ones who love taking responsibility and being in charge, whose families are all on side, who are dab hands at drawing boundaries, being flexible, going with the flow, and that dreaded word, multitasking.
If you want to start work at 9, have an hour for lunch at 12.30 and finish at 5.30, this is not the job for you. Working from home means you need to be prepared to catch the moment and do a shedload of work when you get a chance and then be able to back pedal and take some time out when the family needs you or there are other demands.
Be assertive and firm about applying the boundaries – see our companion article Your Family and Other Animals for more on this.
Being on top of the home and work admin is a real bonus when you work from home – it can be like having an extra pair of hands for the amount of time and energy it saves when you need to find something.
Key points here are to keep it simple, file promptly and be consistent. No point looking for the dog insurance renewal in the pet file if you’ve gone and filed it in the insurance file, for example.
Back up all your contact numbers and business files, especially invoices. Keep a big family calendar where everyone can see it and be religious about filling it in – back it up with a portable diary that has time slots marked in it. This is especially important as the children hit those pre-teen years and start to get a social life that involves you being the taxi service, which is bound to clash with that phone call you have to make or take, and is especially annoying when there isn’t another parent to step in and help!
Keep on top of the admin, especially your accounts, and if you need extra support, then look at hiring a part time virtual assistant – see the article on Virtual Assistants.
Once upon a time it was just you and your partner, a job and perhaps your own flat or a shared house. Now it’s you, the entourage (kids, pets, maybe a new partner, maybe additional kids on a fulltime or part time basis, plus exes…), the house, the car, the job and/or the business (some people have both), school (almost as demanding as a second job sometimes)… the list of life laundry can be exhausting and seemingly endless. So being realistic about what you can achieve and by when is crucial. Case in point – it took me five months longer than I originally planned to relaunch the revamped Funky Angel site in 2008 because of illness, house repairs, school holidays, and work commitments. I used to beat myself up about things like this; now I just accept it takes as long as it takes. That doesn’t mean I don’t set myself goals, it’s just they are now realistic goals!
Going with the flow
If you have children your hours are likely to follow their schedule – around naps in the early years, then playgroup and then school times. Evenings become work time instead of afternoons, and Sunday morning is often the favourite time for home business networking – online of course! – especially if the kids are with the other parent.
Have good support
Family support is essential in the success of your work-at-home venture and you need to get them onside and keep them there. See our companion articles, Your Family and Other Animals and Are you Business Fit? for further information.
© Claire Burdett
Claire Burdett is a qualified and experienced business coach, a home business expert and a serial entrepreneur. She runs www.businessmidwife.co.uk and www.thefunkyagency.com and is the founder of www.funkyangel.co.uk, which is the site for people combining home and business and where this article first appeared. She is also divorced and a solo mum.