Are you fed up with competing in the never-ending corporate rat race? Suppose the rigmarole of toxic leadership, poor work-life balance, and unrealistically high expectations has run you ragged and left you gasping for a much-needed personal day. In that case, the sound of a home-based business may be your music to your overworked ears.
Should you find yourself lassoed in by the prospect of personal freedom, increased opportunity, and a higher earning potential, you’ll need to slash your way through the jungle of home-based business misconceptions. Without a look-before-you-leap approach, the feral beast of toxic “grind culture” could sneak up on you when you’re least expecting it.
Because the success of your business rests on your shoulders, logging 60+hour weeks and compulsively checking emails may be the key to surviving the survival-of-the-fittest business landscape and mitigating financial stress.
To make matters even less glamorous, home-based business owners will have to toe the microscopic line between work and play as they log late-night overtime under plush duvets and answer emails from the comfort of home theatres.
So, before you slip on your gear of rose-colored glasses and a grass-is-always-greener mentality, take an honest look at the realities of running a home-based business.
Once you’ve come to terms with the hard truths below, you can assess whether you’re up for the business-owner aerobics routine of rise, grind, hustle, and repeat. Should you decide you’re up for the high-intensity lifestyle of business ownership, prepare to reap the benefits of a 10-second commute and a schedule that back-bends over your personal obligations.
It’s far from a risk-free venture
With nonexistent rent costs and minimal overhead, launching a home-based business may appear to be a less financially risky venture than opening up your own brick-and-mortar business. However, don’t let thoughts of “home-sweet-home” obstruct your vision and keep significant risks out of sight and out of mind.
From data breaches to property damage to lawsuits, your home-based business can house a host of big-ticket risks. Should a vendor or customer agree to meet at your home address, a simple slip-and-fall can swing open the door to a potential lawsuit–whether an icy driveway or a poorly-placed lawn ornament is to blame.
Additionally, home-based business owners run the risk of watching a severe storm, flood, or mudslide wash their business model down the drain. With all of your business’s assets, such as printers, computer equipment, digital files, and paper files, stored away in your home office, a natural disaster can do more than displace your family.
This severe weather can set back your progress, close your doors for prolonged periods, and lead to damaged business assets and devastating data losses. With the risk of unrecoverable data slipping through your fingers, avoid storing business equipment in flood-prone areas.
If you manage to dodge the forces of personal injury lawsuits and natural disasters, home-based business owners like yourself are still susceptible to data breaches and privacy violations.
For example, should you choose to post your home address as the location of your home-based business, you could potentially expose your loved ones to safety threats such as break-ins. To avoid leaking sensitive information to the public, opt for a virtual business address from iPostal1. By setting up a virtual business address, you can establish credibility in the community, all while safeguarding your privacy.
Work-from-home setups aren’t stress-free sanctuaries
While your WFH uniform may consist of bunny slippers and fuzzy robes, remote work is far from a one-person pajama party. Whether you’re dressed in head-to-toe business professional or sporting yesterday’s sweatpants, the same stresses will await you at 9 am sharp. Sure, you may be able to sneak a load of laundry in between client calls, but the responsibilities of running a business are the same.
In select cases, the stresses of running a business from home might be even more intense than a traditional workplace. With distractions on all four sides of your home office (i.e., stir-crazy little ones, barking dogs, spouses working from home, etc.), a productive eight-hour day may feel like a pipe dream. When distractions run amok, logging a 10+-hour day to account for lulls in productivity might be unavoidable.
Rest assured, these WFH-exclusive stresses all have easy-to-adopt solutions. From holding yourself to a strict schedule to allocating a designated workspace for ritualistically making to-do lists, it’s possible to manage remote work stressors.
Not everyone can acclimate to WFH setups successfully
Though the convenience of rolling out of bed for your morning all-hands meeting is a crowd-pleaser amongst remote workers, the perks of added flexibility and nonexistent commutes aren’t always enough to win over the social butterflies and people-persons of the workforce. Besides negatively impacting job dissatisfaction, WFH structures may put extroverted business owners at a disadvantage.
When leading a team, it’s critical to establish healthy and productive relationships between employers and employees. Unfortunately, with cameras-off meetings running rampant and lunch-and-learns taking a backseat to mid-afternoon cat naps, creating team synergies can prove challenging. Without body language cues and facial expressions in clear view, some business owners flounder in the era of Zoom calls and Slack instant messaging.
However, if you thrive on opportunities to work alone, communicate effectively via email, and navigate distractions with ease, running a home-based business may be a dream come true for a self-proclaimed introvert like yourself.
The separation between work life and home life is virtually non-existent
On the surface, work-from-home life may seem like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spend more quality time with loved ones in between meetings and low-priority projects. But once you wade deeper into remote work living, you may notice your work-life balance slowly deteriorating–which may come as a shock to former WFH proponents.
Because your home office is mere footsteps away from living spaces and sleeping spaces alike, switching off work mode may induce feelings of guilt. With limited opportunities to distance yourself from the general vicinity of your home office, you may find yourself sneaking in an email after dinner, responding to emails during movie night, or chugging away at a high-priority project moments before your head hits the pillow.
While some working professionals may have the willpower to set healthy boundaries and save after-hours emails for tomorrow, others fight tooth and nail to separate work and play. Whether the push backs comes from overzealous colleagues who pelt you with late-night messages or little ones anxious for mid-day homework help, you’ll need to set boundaries with those individuals behind the screens and behind the scenes.
Managing remote employees isn’t a walk in the park
Before you dove headfirst into life as a business owner, some part of you likely craved the collaborative environment of team building. While the ability to invest in others’ successes and watch budding business professionals bloom makes the dirty work of management worthwhile, any business owner is likely well-versed in the challenges of managing a team.
From handling breakdowns in communication to addressing worrying productivity levels head-on to navigating poor time management, managing a team made up of professionals with varying strengths and weaknesses can be trying.
With remote work tossing new challenges into the mix, managers’ heads can start to spin. As a home-based business owner, you’re held responsible for resolving internal communication problems (i.e., differing time zones, unreliable Wi-fi connections, language barriers, etc.), scheduling issues, and time tracking/performance-measuring complications.
To make matters all the more complicated for home-based business owners, remote work imposes barriers to trust-building. Because this trust between employee and employer is vital in effective problem solving, these screen-to-screen relationships can prolong the troubleshooting process.
Fortunately, home-based business owners can flourish with a focus on two-way dialogue and a concerted effort to equip employees with the communication tools they need.
If you find yourself starved of success in your current position, don’t forget to eat the entrepreneurial elephant one bite at a time. With myths about home-based business ownership debunked, you can maneuver through the obstacles and come out on top.