There is nothing more alluring than the possibility of being in complete control of your schedule. You decide when to work, what to work on, and even how you want to go about working on it. Take that one step further and you are the one who manages yourself throughout the entire process – you are your own boss!
The idea of being your own boss and working from home is as close to “the dream” as it gets. Although it’s not as perfect as not having to really work at all, it’s as close to the ideal as possible. Not having someone hover over your shoulder and try to micromanage you can be such a huge relief that you may be jumping at the chance to become your own boss as soon as possible. But before you up and quit your job to go and work on your own from home, there are some things that you need to be aware of and understand first.
Here is what you need to know before you decide to quit your job and become your own boss.
Know How You Really Work
Before you let yourself get too far ahead, you need to really get to know a certain somebody who you will be spending all day with on this new business endeavor you are starting on – yourself.
You know “you” better than anybody, and that means that you are aware of what some of your strengths and weaknesses are. Although you may think that you are ready for the challenge, you still should get an outside opinion on your work ethic and how it comes off to your closest coworkers.
If you are on excellent terms with your coworkers and even on very close terms with your boss or “ex-boss”, ask them what areas are your strengths and weaknesses. Are you a procrastinator? Are you an over-thinker? Do you work best on a team or as a lone wolf? Is your peak productivity time first thing in the morning or towards the end of the day?
These are the kinds of questions you will want to know as you go into this new territory of managing a team of just one. Once you have a better idea of how you come off as a worker and employee, you can apply what you learned to what you already know about yourself.
Re-Learn Your Work-Life Balance
When you first start out, it may seem pretty great that you get to stay home all day instead of spending massive amounts of time commuting, having unproductive downtime at the office, and responding to emails that don’t have much of anything to do with you. Cutting out all of the time that isn’t helping you grow may in fact feel pretty liberating!
However, when you go into business for yourself and start working from home, you will find that there really is a pretty big cut from your previous work-life balance. When you worked from an office, you had preset and established office hours. You probably went in from 9AM to 5PM (or some variation of that) and had the surrounding hours all to yourself with the exception of the scheduled meeting or phone call that spilled over. Now that you are working from home, you are more than likely on call with your clients 24 hours a day, especially if your clients are located in different time zones than you are in.
You may think at first that working from home is a blessing and curse. Sure, your office hours are gone, but think about it – your office hours are gone. You are always to be reachable and always to be responsive if you want to have a good relationship with your clients. Now that all may sound strenuous or difficult, but it is only a hardship at first, because over time you get used to the rhythm and become comfortable with the time frames that your overseas clients want from you. In time, you set up brand new office and operating hours. The difference is that your 9-to-5 is spread out as compared to one solid block.
Prepare for Periods of Feast and Famine
If you are working from gig to gig instead of as a full-time remote employee, then you are going to have to get used to cutting back when it comes to expenses. Yes, you have all the freedom to work from anywhere and whenever you want, but with that kind of time and freedom comes a pretty big cut from your income. There will eventually be some gigs and projects that can actually take you to a place that has you making more than you made at your day job before you left to work for yourself, but when you are first starting out, be prepared to take a bit of a financial hit.
It is easy to want to overspend and treat yourself when that one big client calls on you. You may fall into the trap of believing that each of your clients will be exactly like this one – paying out big and leaving you with time to spare to do what you want. It may end up being that way, but until you know for sure, pull back on your expenses so that if that client pulls out or runs out of work for you to do for them, you will have a safety net big enough for you to survive in until that next big client comes along.
A word of advice: when it looks like you should be feasting, you should still be living as if a famine is not too far off.