I want to work from home!
Want to work from home, owning your own business? That’s awesome. Working for yourself can be very rewarding. But it’s also challenging! Never fear, I’m here to help you avoid the pitfalls and really consider whether self-employment is for you.
“I want to work for myself, But I don’t want to sell anything.” I hear this A LOT. If this is you, you’ll be better off working for The Man. Running your own business takes selling things. If you’re not selling a product, you’re selling a service. Regardless, you’re selling YOU. If that makes you uncomfortable, then be an employee. I’m not trying to be harsh, but I’ve also seen a lot of businesses fail (and money lost) because the business owners didn’t want to sell. If you work for yourself, you work in sales. (Frankly, if you work for someone else, you should also consider that you work in sales, as well. People who can sell themselves are the ones who get promoted.)
Obey the law. Let’s start with the easy ones. Taxes, particularly sales taxes. The people at the Dept of Revenue, if you call after May, are very friendly and helpful. Learn the law, charge sales tax as required. Zoning. The people at the zoning department are also pretty helpful. If you can’t figure out how you’re zoned and what’s allowed/not allowed, give them a call. Now the not so easy. Product laws. Find the appropriate Federal department and dive in. Depending on what you sell, you could be covered by the USDA, the CPSC, the EPA, etc. Not sure what laws apply to you? You’re not ready to open a business. Find others who do something similar to what you want to do and ask them. (And, um, keep asking different people until you find one who knows what they’re talking about. WAHMs especially are really really bad about realizing that laws apply to them, too.)
Team up with others in your industry. Help each other out. The dynamics of various groups can be interesting and frustrating. Some groups I’m in share sources like it’s no big deal. Other groups I’m in act like you just asked them their bra size if you ask where they get X supply. You can get away with quite a bit of “sorry, I’m new” apologizing at the beginning, so don’t be afraid to dive in.
Be realistic. You’re not going to replace a full time job’s income starting tomorrow. I’ve gotten SO MANY emails over the years from moms who were planning to return to work, but changed their minds. They want to stay home, but they really need the full time income, so they want to know what advice I have to help them make a lot of money right away working from home. In reality, that’s not going to happen. It’ll take a few years to replace a full time income, if you ever make that much. And it will require more hours than you’d put in at a full time job. And you have no sick days, and no vacation days.
Be realistic. You’re not going to be an overnight sensation. You’re not.
Be realistic. Operating a business takes a lot of time. A lot of time. Time, time, time, time. I’ve heard many a person say that they’ve thought about starting their own business so that they can have more time to themselves, or more time with their children, or whatever. That’s not a good plan.
Don’t be a copycat. Come up with your own ideas. Come up with your own patterns. Come up with your own recipes. Finding a recipe for something online, making it following that recipe, and then selling it under your name is completely dishonest. Make it yours – if you think you’re skilled enough to do it for a living, you should certainly be skilled enough to come up with your own products. Don’t steal from others.