Contrary to popular belief, working from home is not easy.
Most people underestimate how much you have to do and try to vie for your time, such as your family. There are also things that are enticing and difficult to ignore some days, such as a good show on TV, a welcoming bed, or a nap.
It can be even harder to run your own business from home. Working at home is probably ideal for most entrepreneurs in the beginning, as you lose no time commuting. While you often assume that it will add time back into your day for more work, it may also cause distractions. Although it can be a lot to balance, it is possible.
Here are some tips on how to become a better work-from-home entrepreneur.
1. Don’t overload yourself
Although it may seem like a very lax way of working, work-from-home entrepreneurs often find themselves working way more hours than they would in a traditional workplace. A simple fix for this is to determine your business hours, a set schedule, and force yourself to stick to them.
By doing this, you’re regulating the amount of time you work in a week, adjusting to that schedule, and then using that time and energy to get work done.
2. Structure your time
As you develop a workflow and a process, you’ll realize what works for you and what doesn’t. Take note of these patterns and develop a schedule that structures your time to play on your strengths. If you realize there’s a time of day that is difficult to be productive, then don’t force it. There’s no right or wrong way of structuring your day as long as it’s conducive to being productive and not neglecting other areas of your life.
3. Don’t be afraid to switch up your scenery
Just because you’ve decided to work from home doesn’t mean you need to work in the same spot every single day. Opting for a change of scenery every once in awhile can actually help boost productivity and creativity. It can also prevent distractions.
You won’t feel like you’re missing out on a beautiful day if you work from your porch or backyard. You might wander to the window to check out the snowfall multiple times, when you can just sit near a window and peer from time to time.
4. Realize you’re running the whole show
When you’re a part of a team, there’s a certain amount of slacking off that you can rationalize. When you’re running the show yourself, you’re responsible for all your successes and failures. Reminding yourself of this through every step of the process will help you to stay motivated and productive during the times you need it most.
5. Don’t talk yourself out of taking breaks
If you were working in a typical work environment, you might take a walk to the bathroom or the printer, stop to chat with a coworker, or go grab a cup of coffee.
Don’t deprive yourself of these small breaks just because you work from home. You can take a short phone call that isn’t work related or run to the store for lunch, as long as you stick to your schedule and don’t let the day get away from you.
6. Figure out what will make you stand out in your industry, then make it your own
Being an entrepreneur gives you flexibility. Even if you carve out just a few hours in your workweek to examine your industry and contextualize yourself in the big picture, it’ll make a difference. This is a step you aren’t necessarily responsible for when you’re a member of a team.
However, it will make or break you if you’re out on your own.
Once you see where you are and understand what’s happening in your industry, you’ll be able to figure out what sets you apart from your competitors, and how you can capitalize on it.
7. Learn how to sell your vision wherever you go
Remember that you are your marketing team! Don't be afraid to bring your business up around others to spread the word. Look into resources that help you naturally explain your business without sounding like you're trying to make a hard sell.
Practice will make perfect in this respect, so work on spreading the word.
8. Pay it forward
One of the best parts of being an entrepreneur is the give and take of the process. You're constantly learning and by talking with others, you're imparting wisdom on them as well. Giving back is one of the great keys to success.
Whether you're donating time or money to a charity, or simply sharing tips with someone new to the game, doing your part will benefit you in the long run.
9. Look for opportunities to challenge yourself
Entrepreneurship will undoubtedly push you out of your comfort zone. That's a great thing; it means you're growing. You have to look for opportunities that will challenge you so that you learn and grow. Do this often enough and you'll find your comfort zone isn't as small as you thought.
10. Shape your toolbox and make good use of it!
There are a lot of excellent tools out there to help with remote project management and communication. Here are a few tools to get you started:
- Trello for organizing projects
- Toggl for tracking time
- Google Docs for document editing and sharing
- Zoom for virtual meetings
Find which ones work best with your business model and work style and use them! You’ll often find it easier than building out and implementing your own systems. It also puts you on even-footing with those out there already using these tools, making working with different people across different projects easier than ever.
Taking these steps may be daunting, but they’ll make you a better entrepreneur. They’ll also make you more comfortable working from home and ideally, more productive.
Bonus: Here is an interview with three “mompreneurs” who share some extra tips on balancing life and business as a mom.
Got any other tips that help you? We’d love to hear from all the other awesome work from home entrepreneurs out there too!