Sat in a 9 to 5 job, perched on my IKEA office chair, I would often daydream that most individuals have at some point in their life. You know, the one where you are running your own business from home. Be your own boss, with just the house cats to judge you as you talk to clients in your pink PJs.
This day was different from the rest, however, as I decided to stop daydreaming and take the plunge, and that afternoon I co-founded Cheshire Cat, a marketing agency based in the North West.
Several months down the line I still have no regrets, however, it certainly isn’t as glamorous as my daydreams made it out to be – certainly a bit of false advertising on my brain’s part.
The house is far from spotless, local takeaways now know me on a first-name basis and that novel I was planning to write with my spare time is a sentence long. It’s not all doom and gloom though, as I do get to spend more time with my amazing children. I am hoping that in this short blog, I can pass on some snippets of wisdom that I wish I had when starting my own business and make money from home.
So without further ado, here is my list of top five I wish I had known before starting Cheshire Cat:
Remember to Switch Off
When you worked a normal job in an office you get the “ahh” feeling when 5 pm on Friday hits. That moment when you can finally turn your attention to your family and enjoy the weekend.
When you start your own business that feeling is pretty much gone. When we started Cheshire Cat Marketing we noticed that we were working more than we ever had done before.
Our evenings had gone from watching Game of Thrones or play with the kids, to working away until the early hours of the morning.
Marketing agencies are a 24/7 commitment. If there’s breaking news that is relevant to our clients then we need to be able to jump on the opportunity while it’s hot. We would have to respond to our client’s customers on social media even if it’s 10 pm on a Friday.
It can be hard to find time to switch off. It took us several weeks before we came up with a solution. We decided to only work on urgent tasks after 5 pm. Having time “off work” is essential to staying passionate and refreshing. If you don’t you end up stressed and burnt out, and both your family and business will feel the sting.
Keep Motivation Up
Some days you can get really demotivated especially if your business isn’t growing as fast as you hope, or if you are struggling to manage a large workload. It’s too easy to stay in your PJs, put on daytime TV, and be lazy when you don’t need to travel to the office every morning. In order to stay motivated it’s helpful to have a regular pre-work routine.
Waking up bright and early, eating a healthy breakfast, and doing some light exercise can help to get into the right mindset. Keeping a journal is another way to boost motivation If you dedicate the hour before you go to bed on a Sunday evening to writing in everything that you need to achieve in the week ahead you have a list that can keep your goals in clear sight.
I like to add in one achievement from the previous week and five things that I am grateful for so that on the days that I’m struggling to get going I can look back and remember how far I’ve already moved forward.
Separate Work & Home
If you have a busy household it can become tricky to separate work from life. Kids running through rooms and dogs barking at the postman can be very distracting and are very unprofessional if you happen to be on a call. It’s essential to have your own workspace where you can lock yourself away from distractions and concentrate on your business.
It doesn’t have to be a huge space but it has to be separate from the rest of the house and away from anything distracting – like kids and the television. Making this space into a sacred area just for you can help to detach from home-life and enter into work mode. Ideally, include a little greenery like a desk plant and have some nice natural light to create a positive environment.
Make Work a Priority
A common problem you have to face with starting a home-based business is making sure the people around you understand that it is just as much of a job as an office-based one.
You can’t take extra long lazy lunches with friends or answer several non-work calls, but the people around you might not understand this. People can start to treat you as if you are unemployed.
It can be easy to slip into the habit of unloading the dishwasher during work hours or running a few errands but before you know it these things become expected of you and your time to build up your business can play second fiddle to other things. Set strict working hours and although you can enjoy the perks occasionally remember that your business is your bread and butter and you need to make it the number one priority.
If you don’t keep it top of your list your business can become stale and stuck and other people will not respect your working hours.
Have People Around You
A home-based business doesn’t mean that you have to be alone. If you already have other team members tools like Slack can really simplify communications. Relying on emails and phone calls takes time and if you have a few questions it can suck up your time.
Slack enables you to send them a message which they can easily and quickly respond to. It can even be downloaded on mobiles. We always introduce Slack to our clients to ensure they have a quick and easy way to contact us.
However, when you are starting up you may struggle to afford extra staff and find all the responsibilities falling on you, building a network of people that you can turn to and discuss your worries, challenges, and goals can keep you from getting lonely and disengaged.
Working remotely can be very isolating and depressing so it’s important to keep your human interactions up. Make extra time for the weekend to visit people and don’t keep yourself locked away.
Running a business from home can be amazing, but it does come with challenges. If you stay motivated, positive, and passionate then you can find yourself in a much more comfortable lifestyle than a traditional 9 to 5 position could ever offer. Just don’t let freedom make you lazy or don’t feel downhearted when facing challenges. Remember every business is hard to get off the ground but when it does the benefits can really make up for all the hard work.
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