Overcoming Isolation in Your Home BusinessWritten by Elena Fawkner
Like most people, when you think about what it would be like to work from home, you probably think of obvious benefits such as working your own hours, not having to face a stressful, tedious commute every day, actually seeing what your garden looks like in daylight hours, not having to answer to a boss, being home when your children are, working in a comfortable environment and so on. These are, of course, some of only many wonderful benefits of working from home.
Before long, though, you may begin to think back to your previous life and realize you actually miss those umpteen visitors who were constantly interrupting you when you were trying to work, walk in park at lunchtime with your best work-friend, drinks on Friday night after work, and being able to run an idea past a colleague for instant, valuable feedback.
Now, everything is just, well, quiet. And there's no-one down hall to go visit who's over age four. You find yourself checking your email constantly, wanting to connect to someone. You find yourself wishing phone would ring. You! The person who, when you worked in a job, cursed constant telephone interruptions and thought voice- and e-mail was greatest invention since sliced bread. Welcome to another reality of home-based business ... home alone.
Here are some ways to avoid isolation trap when running a business out of your home:
ESTABLISH A STRUCTURE
Nothing is surer to reinforce feelings of isolation as time that stretches as far as eye can see like a straight, one lane highway through a flat, barren landscape. Don't start each day without a plan of what you intend to do. You need to structure your time so that it is not some endlessly vast terrain you must traverse alone. So write a to-do list, preferably at end of day before, so that when your work day starts you get productive straight away, before isolation blues have a chance to take hold.
When writing your to-do list, make sure you include at least two things every day that require you to interact with another person. Networking is a vital skill, whether you work for someone else or for yourself. So make contacts with people who can add value to your business, as well as connecting you with outside world.
Joining a professional group or club, attending seminars and trade shows relevant to your business are all great ways to meet new people who have similar interests and challenges. Participate in activities organized by these groups and take a good supply of business cards with you.
ESTABLISH JOINT VENTURES
Another way to keep isolation blues at bay is to joint venture with other home-based business owners. Team up with other businesses that offer complementary services to your business. Not only will you send additional business each other's way in form of referrals, you are establishing professional relationships with your joint venture partners.
The 9 to 5-Home Business Tug o' WarWritten by Elena Fawkner
Perhaps scarcest commodity new home-business owner just starting out has is time. This is particularly so if you are also working a traditional, full-time job and building up your business "on side" in your spare time.
This is a situation I am all too familiar with. I still work a full-time 8:30 - 5:00 job while building my own internet-based business in my spare time. So how do you go about burning candle at both ends without burning yourself out in process?
First off, let's think about priorities. Working a full- time job while developing a business requires stamina and endurance if other areas of your life are not to be neglected. This means being fit and healthy. Make time to exercise at least three times a week. Four or five is better. I know how hard it can be to commit an hour to working out when you've got an endless (and I mean ENDLESS!) list of things you need to be doing NOW for your business. But make time. It pays BIG dividends in terms of stamina and endurance. For me, this means getting up at 4:00 am on workout days. If that's what it takes for you, do it!
Second, eat right. Don't just grab a McBurger on way home from work and scoff it down as you're driving. Take time to cook a proper meal and relax for a half hour or an hour before getting down to business. This gives you a break and time to unwind from pressures of day, making you much more productive when you do get down to work. Eating proper meals will keep you in good health and, coupled with a regular exercise routine, will help keep your energy levels high.
OK, so you're physically in shape and taking care of yourself. The next major thing to think about is time management. Every weekend, before working week starts, prepare a business plan for coming week. This is nothing more complicated that writing down various business-related activities you must do over course of coming week and then scheduling them according to how much time you know you are going to have on a particular day. By planning out your time this way, you can schedule your business activities alongside your other activities. Take care of as many of them as you can through course of day. Whether you are able to do this depends on nature of your 9 to 5 job but if you have even a little autonomy you should be able to squeeze out a little time here and there. Not huge chunks, just 10 minutes here and there.
The nature of your job may mean you don't have luxury of that sort of autonomy. If this is you, then there's nothing for it but to free up time before and after work. This may mean getting up an hour earlier every day, for example. Whatever your personal situation, by planning ahead you will at least have peace of mind of knowing that time has been allocated to all important business-related tasks.