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Should you Start a Home business? Nine Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Take
the Plunge

By Marcia Passos Duffy

If you have a 9 to 5 job, you no doubt
have had some very pleasant daydreams
about working from home.  You know
the kind: you wake up any time you like,
put your feet up on your desk (complete
with your fuzzy slippers), blithely start
a load of laundry between phone calls,
happily plant flowers during your lunch
break, grab your laptop and head
to the park with your kids.

Working from home is the dream of millions of corporate workers who would love the
freedom of being their own boss. While there is a definite upside to working at home
(yes, you can wear your fuzzy slippers whenever you like!), do you really to know
what it takes to work day-in, day-out from your home?  

There are certain characteristics of a successful home business owner that have little to
do with the love of unfettered freedom (although that certainly does help).  Before you
take the leap and join the ranks of the 20 million Americans working from home, ask
yourself the following questions:

1.  Do you have an entrepreneurial spirit?  You need to be self-assured and have an “I
can do it myself” attitude.  Period.  Okay, you can have your weak moments, but
overall, you do need to have confidence in yourself and your abilities – and the ability
to communicate that to other people, namely, your potential clients.

2. Do you have a working knowledge of finance, marketing, record-keeping and
secretarial skills?
 Don’t be fooled into thinking that because you’re the “boss” that
you are exempt from grunt work – including dusting your own office furniture and
backing up your own computer files.  While there may come a time when you can hire
someone to do this for you, you will drive yourself into bankruptcy if you have a
prima-dona attitude.

3.  Are you an expert at something?  You need to have a solid idea of what kind of
business you will have at home.  Having several years of experience in your line of
work in the corporate arena will be invaluable in helping you get clients – which will
be the lifeblood of your business.

4.  Do you have a cushion?  Not for your chair, but in your bank account.  You will
either need a spouse working full-time with benefits and/or three to six months of
living expenses tucked away in a savings account.  

5.  Can you work alone? Can you live without the water-cooler gossip, meetings,
lunch with colleagues every day?  Running a home business can be a lonely
proposition.  However, this can be remedied by joining a network of other work-at-
home professionals or your local Chamber of Commerce.  Once you’ve made those
connections that sense of being trapped on a desert island will begin to disappear.

6.  Do you have a strong work ethic?  If you work from home, it is all too easy to get
distracted by things that have nothing to do with work – like Internet chat rooms, the
TV, the neighbors, you name it -- and can easily sap your time which IS money.  

7. Do you have the support of your family?  Working from home can seem like you
are not working at all…after all, who is looking over your shoulder?  It is easy for
family members not to take what you do seriously, particularly if you don’t take
yourself or your business seriously.  Make sure you set yourself up with an office that
is not used for anything else – this is particularly important for tax purposes if you
want to deduct the space of your home office.   You also need to explain your work
arrangements with your friends, former coworkers and family and set definitely office
hours so you will not be endlessly interrupted by family members or friends who
discover you’re now “at home” and available to run errands.

8.  Do you have passion, a vision, and a desire to succeed?  You need to love what
you do. A threadbare cliché? Perhaps, but at the end of the day, what’s the point of
having a home business if you are not nuts about it?  That zeal is what will get you
through the rough spots and keep you plugging away when you start to think that
maybe you’re crazy for starting a home business.  

9.  Do you know how to keep it all in balance?  Ironically, running a home business
can leave you little time to be with your family because you’re always working.  It is
important to be able to put up a strong barrier between your family life and work life.  
Not doing this will lead to burn-out and very strained family relationships.  And, isn’t
that why you wanted to leave corporate life in the first place?

bout the writer:  Marcia Passos Duffy has worked happily from home for over 10
 She is a freelance writer and the publisher of Home Office Weekly, a free
online publication to help
the novice and seasoned home business
owner successfully work and live under
the same roof.
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Marcia Passos Duffy, Publisher & Editor
Author of
Be Your Own Boss

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