Are you an independent-minded worker? Do you dream of taking control of your career and forging your own path? Working from home may be an ideal solution to your career goals. It’s not an easy path to follow if you lack the proper mindset for working from home. These basic notes will help you approach the challenges this sort of work presents.

Build A Wall Between Your Work And Home Life

One of the biggest attractions of working from home is the flexibility it gives you to switch from professional concerns to personal ones whenever you need to. This flexibility can be a double-edged sword! Mix up the balance and you could find yourself harried and exhausted at the end of a day that has included plenty of chores and distractions but no productive work.

When you work at home, you have to take full responsibility for putting in the hours your career demands. The best way to do this is to create habits and conditions that remind you to be professional when you are working. Setting aside a space exclusively dedicated to your job is a great idea, as well as scheduling your working hours in advance. Establish boundaries that protect your personal life, too. Set fixed hours when you are not going to work and not responding to calls and emails and be sure to stick with them.

Don’t Stay In A Shell

When your home is also your office, you lose out on the benefits of having co-workers. This might sound terrific if you found your last job full of distracting and irritating individuals, but the truth is a certain amount of professional stimulation and “buzz” from social interaction is an important part of your working life. You will need to take the initiative in finding that stimulation when you run a home business.

Reach out to other independent workers in your line of work or in your community. Join groups dedicated to the special concerns of those who work at home. This can be done both online and in person, and by pursuing both avenues, you can build up a terrific network of professional contacts to give you the feedback, advice, and sympathy you need to stay motivated and productive.

Keep Yourself Inspired

Another significant challenge of working from the home is keeping your skill set sharp. Once again, you have to exercise responsibility and carve out a dedicated portion of your schedule to nurturing your professional gifts. Keep in mind that motivating yourself is part of this effort!

Take full advantage of the many resources the internet provides for people with an entrepreneurial mindset. You’ll find plenty of motivational material, professional organizations, and skill-building seminars and courses online. Look for real-world opportunities as well and forge contacts with other local members of your industry. You never know where you are going to pick up the next bit of inspiration or the new skill you need to excel in your work.

This is merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to keeping your head in the right place for working from home. The general advice presented here should serve you well no matter what sort of work you’re doing, but you can easily dig further and find more specific help for your profession online. Maintaining a healthy mindset is vital if you wish to grasp all the opportunities available to you when you work out of your home.

Waverly J. Hanson is a licensed professional counselor, licensed marriage coach, military and family life consultant, professional trainer and author of How to Divorce-Proof Your Marriage. She has more than 25 years of experience helping individuals and couples improve their lives. To learn more about her effective methods, visit PersonalDevelopmentGoals.mywebpal.com.

organized-officeIf you currently work from home, then you’re already aware of the many benefits of not having to leave your house to go to work. You can sleep in a little later, work in a comfortable environment and not have to waste gas money to commute to the office. Life is great!

But then something horrible happens. You realize you aren’t productive when working in your home office.

Why could that be? The answer amounts to one word: distractions — and they are abundant at home. The TV might be blaring in the other room. The family might be around, and you might be one click away from wasting half of your day on Facebook. This is common since there is no one over your shoulder watching your every move.

Never fear, though. Distractions can be reduced. Here are five home hacks to increase your productivity:

1. Dress for Success

How many times have you rolled out of bed, made your coffee and “gone to work” without ever changing out of your pajamas?

One of the perks of working from home is you can dress however you like. However, working in your pajamas might make you less productive. Numerous studies have shown that people work more efficiently when they’re dressed professionally. This includes people who work from home.

So before you sit down at that desk, try changing out of your pajamas and into a nice dress shirt and pants!

2. Use a Timer

Listen up, procrastinators!

Use a timer at home to make sure you stay on track with whatever you’re working on. If you’re working in a space that’s close to the kitchen, use the microwave or kitchen timer. If you can’t hear the kitchen timer, then use the timer on your phone or go out and buy an old-fashioned stop watch.

Set the timer for thirty minutes, and don’t stop working until it goes off. Take a short break after it does go off, and then get right back to work.

3. No Electronics in Your Office

If you work from home, you probably work on your computer, so no electronics is a little bit of a stretch. You can try to limit the number of electronics in your office, however.

There is absolutely no reason why you should have a TV in your office. It will only act as a distraction, and you won’t get anything done. Also make sure your phone isn’t in the office unless you absolutely need it for work or emergencies. Put it on airplane mode or turn it off if it becomes too distracting.

4. Organize Your Home Office

Your home office should be your sanctuary. Make sure it’s organized and conducive to a work environment.

For instance, there should be no clutter in your office. You can get overwhelmed by the amount of random things lying around, and you won’t be as concentrated on your work. Make sure there are cabinets and shelves you can store things in so your desk and floor are as clear as possible.

Your office should also look like an office — your desk should be an office desk and your chair should be comfortable. A quick search on Craigslist and eBay shows you can get these things for relatively cheap.

It’s important that your office feels like a distinct part of your home. You probably won’t get much accomplished if you’re working from your kitchen counter.

5. Prepare the Night Before

Use the night before to prepare for the following day.

The morning is typically the most productive time of the day. However, it’s easy to get distracted in the morning with annoying tasks like figuring out what to wear, what to eat for breakfast and how you’re going to spend your evening.

Use the night before to get ahead on all of these tasks so you can use the morning time to get to work. Pick out and iron your clothes, leave your breakfast out so you can easily make it and plan the rest of your day.

You’ll also sleep better when you aren’t worried about what you’re going to do the next day —and good sleep makes us all more productive.

Work Is Still Work

Working from home can be a great way to be employed, but it can be very easy to get distracted as well. Productivity is important to success, but it’s also important to keep balance at work as well. Just like any piece of equipment, if you overload yourself, you can end up setting yourself back and actually lose productivity if you push yourself beyond your limits.

Keep these tips in mind, though, and remember that work is still work. You’ll be able to increase your productivity — no matter where you’re working from.

Megan Wild honed her productivity skills at a young age and now wants to help people do more with less time. You can check out some of her tips on her blog, Your Wild Home.

coffee-mug-laptop-deskWorking from home can be a rewarding opportunity. That is, if you’ve already found a work-at-home job. If you haven’t, it can be a tricky, but worthwhile endeavor; finding the job can be a job in itself, especially if you don’t know where to look.

Don’t worry though. From setting up your personal office to acquiring a job, here are the basics of working from home, so you can get started toward a lucrative career all without having to commute to work every morning.

Step 1: Preparing For Your Search

Because there are a lot of online scams floating around that are related to working at home, it’s best that you first protect your computer before you set out on your job search. Besides an anti-virus program, I would suggest that you install a VPN. VPN stands for Virtual Private Network, and what it does is anonymize your internet traffic.

When your internet traffic is encrypted with a VPN, it’s highly unlikely that any scammers will get into your personal information. This is because an encryption is a tough code to crack, and it takes both a powerful machine and patience; cracking these codes doesn’t happen overnight. The average hacker isn’t going to bother going through all the trouble when they can just move on to the next person’s PC that’s likely to be unsecured.

Click here to read more about VPNs, as well as find out how to choose one.

Step 2: Find the Job(s)

Now that you have your PC protected, onto the job search! The easiest and most effective way to find an online job is to search freelance websites such as Upwork or Guru. Though there is lots of competition on freelance websites, you are sure to find a job eventually as long as you keep your profile updated and also search and apply to job listings regularly.

Though freelance work typically brings to mind the word “temporary,” some employers on freelance websites are actually interested in hiring long term. The key to being successful on these highly competitive websites is to stay motivated. Most importantly, search for and apply to multiple jobs, and pay attention to how old the job listing is; you have a better chance of being hired if you apply to the job within the first half hour of it being posted.

Besides staying on top of the job listings, remember to sync your email account with your smartphone, so you will know when potential employers message you about any jobs you might have applied to. If you set up your profile with information about your skills and experience, you might even find that an employer will send you an invitation to interview, even if you haven’t previously applied for their job listing; freelance websites make it easy for employers to search for candidates based on their skills, making it a worthwhile experience for those who are seeking work-at-home opportunities.

As with any work-at-home job listings, be on the lookout for scams. Not every job or site is legitimate; so keep that in mind when you’re on your job hunt, and never reveal your banking information to those you meet online.

If freelance sites aren’t your thing, this Forbes article should lead you in the right direction. Of course, there’s also the option of starting up a business of your own too!

Step 3: Setting Up a Home Office

cat-on-deskHave you ever tried to work from home with a cat around? If so, you know the importance of setting up a home office. Not only will it lessen any background noise, but it’ll also keep Fluffy from taking a paw to your keyboard.

Depending on the type of work you’ll be doing, I would recommend that you invest in an L-shaped desk. When you’re using an L-shaped desk, it’s easier to have all of your tools and devices in one place so you won’t have to wander around the room in order to complete different tasks. Since you’re most likely going to need a printer/scanner combo, computer, and possibly even a landline phone, you’ll find that the L-shaped desk is the best way to go.

Another important piece of furniture for your home office is the chair you’ll be sitting in. There are many different types of office chairs to choose from, and depending on your stature, you might prefer one type over the other. Whichever type of office chair you choose, check for the seal of approval from the American Chiropractic Association.

Some stores will have this information in clear view when you’re shopping for your office chair, and if they don’t, an employee should be able to tell you or check the box for you. It’s important that you purchase a chair that is approved by the ACA because it’s likely that you’ll be spending a lot of time in it if you plan to work from home.

Step 4: Take a Look at Your PC

You are going to want to check your computer to ensure that all of your software is up to date. This will prevent your device from being vulnerable to hackers because the older the software you are the using, the more likely it is that hackers have figured out a way to gain access to it and spread viruses to its users. Besides keeping your software updated, it’s also important that you keep your hardware updated as well.

You’re going to need a machine that will be able to keep up with your digital tasks. While it’s not always necessary to be running the latest operating system, it would be a good idea to have a computer that is no more than 5 years old, if possible. The main thing you want to ensure is that your computer can run at a speed that is necessary in order to complete your job(s).

For more help on this, check with your local computer repairman; any store that sells computers should be able to help as well, though this isn’t a guarantee! Stores that specialize in electronics, such as Best Buy, would be a good place to start if you cannot locate a dedicated computer store.

Another tip as far as computers go is to backup all of your data onto a flash drive or external hard drive. Even with them backed up on one of these devices, you should always keep a copy of your files on an extra computer as well. The reason for this is because external hard drives can sometimes become corrupted and fail, so make sure you have more than one copy of your files saved on multiple devices; if your computer ever crashes (though it shouldn’t if you stick to using a VPN), you’ll be happy that you do!

Step 5: Get To Work!

Now for the fun part: getting to work! If you haven’t picked up a job yet, finding a job will be your job for now. Stay motivated, and don’t get discouraged if you don’t get hired immediately. Working at home takes determination on your part in order to become successful.

Nothing gets a morning sickness-riddled tummy churning like a hot bus crowded with people–particularly the guy who’s breathing in your direction with garlic on his breath. As you fight back the urge to vomit, you can’t help but wonder what the heck he ate for breakfast.

The thought of enduring nine months of beastly bus rides is enough to dampen even the most soaring of spirits. But, you need the income and have no choice. Or do you? What if you could stay home and make money doing it?

pregnant-at-homeYes, you could kiss that cursed commute goodbye and launch your very own home-based business.

Find Your Fit

The first thing you will need to do is determine what type of home-based business fits your skill sets, your interests, and the amount of time that you wish to work each day. Do you want to continue in your current field or are you hoping to try something new? Once you have determined what skills, interests, or passions you’d like to use in your at-home career, you are ready to move on to the next step–finding an at-home business that will allow you to do exactly that.

Thankfully, there seems to be a home-based business idea to match practically every skill set or interest one could possibly imagine. Just a few of these potential paths include bookkeeping, daycare, medical billing, tech support, writing, direct sales, esthetics, teaching music, graphic or web design, data entry, or serving as a virtual assistant. You could even choose to start your own online business.

Set Your Schedule

The nice thing about working for yourself is that you have greater control over when you work, how long you work, and how much you work. Is morning sickness still causing you to spend most of your mornings praying to the gods of porcelain? No worries. You can conduct your business later in the day. As an added bonus, after your child is born, you can work around nap times and feedings, enabling you to better balance motherhood and your career.

Added Savings

If switching to a home-based business requires you to take a salary-cut, there are savings that you must bear in mind. Working from the comfort of your humble abode means you will no longer have to spend money on dressy clothing, commuting to and fro, and buying lunches out. Plus, you will likely also be eligible for tax deductions related to your home-based enterprise. And, as “Work At Home Opportunities When You’re Pregnant or a New Mom” offers, all you will require for most home businesses is a “halfway-decent computer, a smartphone, and a business-specific voicemail account.”

A Viable Solution

If you are a single mom who can’t afford daycare or you are struggling with your ability to financially provide for your child, working from home may prove a viable solution. As “Should I Keep My Baby?,” warns, financial difficulties are frequently temporary and if you are thinking of putting your baby up for adoption simply because of money issues right now, adoption may not be right for you. A work-at-home career may solve both your childcare and financial needs.

Watch Out for Scams

When looking for an at-home or telecommuting job, keep an eye out for scams. According to Forbes‘ “Become a Work-At-Home Mom,” avoid listings that promise easy money for easy work, don’t have the hiring company’s name identified, use public email domains such as hotmail, gmail, or anonymous Craig’s List accounts, or overuse exclamation marks or dollar signs. Don’t fall for any ad that promises you wads of cash or asks you to fork over money in exchange for a starter kit or marketing materials. And, if they don’t pay you on time, cut your losses and discontinue providing services for them.

200319596-001Yes, you can put an end to commutes from hell and remain in the comfort of your own home–while making money. By starting your own home-based business, you can take back control of your life and make Mr. Chronic Halitosis someone else’s problem.

Having difficulties deciding what at-home business best suits your personality type? Check out “How to Find the Best Opportunity for Your Personality” and begin a journey of self-exploration.

Kimberley Laws is a freelance writer, avid blogger and Certified Career Counselor who loves being her own boss as she is very easy to work for. You can follow her at The Embiggens Project.

Images courtesy of Thinkstock.com.

Sleeping late, wearing pajamas to work, being the head honcho — it all sounds like a dream come true! But is it really for you? Here are a few things to consider before taking the leap from having a boss to being the boss.

Freelance

Can You Afford It?

This should be top on your list of considerations. Freelance work does not deliver a fixed salary. Some months may provide exceptional income, whereas others may be slim. Be sure to have enough money set aside for the dry spells.

Also consider vacations and sick leave — these will now be unpaid.

Are You Disciplined?

While the idea of being the boss and working from home can be enticing, it is definitely not for everyone. To be successful, you must be able to manage your time well. Your clients will be keeping normal business hours, and you should do the same. No all-nighters (unless you plan on still being up for regular business hours), and no sleeping till noon.

Are You Organized?

If you plan to juggle multiple clients and projects, you need a method to keep them organized. A project management system will help you track your time and expenses. This information is helpful when invoicing your clients and also when providing quotes for potential clients.

Can You Communicate Clearly?

You’ll need to communicate with your potential clients in a way that is clear and concise. Don’t leave room for interpretation in your discussions. Communicate with clients via their preferred method – email, phone, or in person.

Do You Need Medical Insurance?

Moving from a full-time job to a freelance job often means the loss of medical insurance. For some, this is a minor issue. But for those with health problems or those with children, it could have a major impact. If you are healthy, consider a high-deductible health plan, which provides coverage for catastrophic situations. Paying high monthly premiums for routine check-ups may not be a wise decision.

Do You Have Initiative?

Let’s face it — potential clients are probably not going to show up on your doorstep. You must be willing to do what it takes to find the work. Whether it is online, on the phone, or physically talking with people, you must be able to sell yourself and your services. Along with this, you must be able to handle rejection.

Will You Be Lonely?

Some people require a certain amount of social interaction. As a freelance writer, the bulk of your time will be spent alone. Know ahead of time if this is going to be a problem for you. If you ever feel the need to be around other people, pack up your laptop and find a library or coffee shop with Wi-Fi and work there for a couple of hours. Or join a professional organization and attend their luncheons and meetings.

Can You Negotiate?

Being a freelance writer means you will have to negotiate, probably more often than you’d think. You’ll need to negotiate your contract, obviously. And when you’re knee-deep in a project and the client asks for something outside the scope of your contract, you’ll need to negotiate for compensation. If you are involved with any third-party vendors, you’ll need to negotiate with them as well.

Couch-LaptopDo You Have an Office Area at Home?

Be sure to have a designated work space that is separate from your other living areas. You must stay focused while “at work.” If you are easily distracted, consider keeping a regular routine. Set an alarm clock, get dressed for the day, grab a cup of coffee, and head to your office.

 

Are You Willing to File the Necessary Tax Documents?

Your taxes will no longer be automatically deducted from your paycheck. You will need to calculate and file them, probably quarterly. In addition, have a system for tracking expenses such as mileage, office supplies, and lunch meetings.

Just Say No

Don’t take on more work than you can feasibly complete. It’s okay to say no to a client. Turning down one project doesn’t mean you won’t be considered for any future work. Be honest with the client, and explain (if possible) why you can’t take the project. The client will more than likely appreciate your honesty.

Freelance writing can be the perfect solution for some, while for others it would not be a wise choice. Spend time researching and planning before making this decision.

Image credit: Photos.com

Amy Kirkegaard is a freelance writer who writes on a variety of current topics, including money-saving ideas and the best way of obtaining inexpensive California car insurance.

 

Working at home has overtaken conventional methods of self-employment and has revolutionized the employment sector on the whole. The success of individual online entrepreneurs and minimal organizations has shed some important light on how the advent of the Internet and social media has allowed savvy self-promoters to reach out and make the world hear them.

The cult of workaholics who seldom got a chance to concentrate on their social life because of relentless job deadlines and work pressures has now begun to embrace the work-at-home model to work smart rather than blindly working hard.

Shifting to a job that involves working from home can seem strange at first, but it happens to be remarkably liberating once you get used to it. Many people under this category have come over to this side after getting tired of their frugal corporate jobs and stagnant careers.

Profiling Home-Based Working Professionals

But before we begin stating the perks about working from home, let us categorize the main types of workers that embrace the work-at-home job lifestyle:

  • Freelancers who form the major part of this category of workers
  • Working women on a sabbatical
  • Women bounded by family priorities
  • Individuals taking up the extra job for additional income
  • Those not currently employed by an organization
  • Those currently looking for something but covering up by working part time

Let us take a look at the diverse variety of job profiles that are most commonly associated with people who work at home:

  • Graphic designing
  • Website development
  • Blogging/content writing
  • Photography
  • Coding
  • Music making
  • Composing
  • Video making
  • Online advisory services

Here are a few of the common myths held by the corporate world about the nature of work-at-home jobs:

Myth: Working from home pays much less than a regular job.

Fact:  The remittance offered to freelancers or professionals who work from home for their work can be equivalent, or in many cases, even higher than the income of corporate employees who do the same work.

Myth: Work hours are less.

Fact: Again this isn’t always true as the work hours could range from 9-10 hours just like a regular job and sometimes crosses that benchmark too depending on the client’s requirement and workload.

Myth: Working at home isn’t as tedious as a regular job.

Fact: Working at home can have its share of intensive work load and tough deadlines too depending on the number of clients you are servicing simultaneously.

Why Working at Home Can Be the Best Thing to Happen to You

Evidently, home-based jobs give you more time to concentrate on household chores and your social life that otherwise get ignored by you. The problem of commuting is reduced and that saves a massive load of time and enhances productivity. You can market everything from gps grade control systems to Pokemon cards right from the comfort of your home.

The flexibility in working hours is high and the tension of being confronted by the boss at all times is evaded. You are your own master and what you do will affect only you and not a massive organization holistically.

The revenue generated is all yours and no one else has an authority over it. You familiarize yourself with the online mechanism of operations to facilitate transfer of key resources, information and physical requirements such as photos or content codes, etc. It gives you the liberty to pick from multiple jobs and responsibilities that complement your skill set perfectly.

Are there really a lot of cons to this working lifestyle? Not really. Working from home is a time-saving and revenue-generating lifestyle that gives you the same set of responsibilities as corporate jobs without requiring you to compromise on your freedom.

Working from home can be incredibly beneficial to your needs. But working away from the office isn’t for everybody. There is a lot that can go wrong and many things that can inhibit your work abilities. If you can overcome a few obstacles though, your work can be just as efficient as if you were working from the office. Here are some tips on how to best utilize your internet time when you are working from home.

Extensions and Apps

Productivity applications can be surprisingly helpful. I’m always amazed at how much I rely on an app once I find one that I really love. To-do list apps are helpful to keep you on track and remembering all of the things that you need to get done. There are also some wonderful collaboration extensions that you can use on Chrome. These will allow you to interact with coworkers and work on projects simultaneously. One of my favorite types of apps are the ones that set productivity timers. They are fulfilling and help me to set goals for what I can get done in a set amount of time.

Distractions

Online distractions can be a big problem for anyone, regardless of your work situation. Working from home can pose a greater temptation to visit sites that irrelevant to your current task. Luckily, someone was smart enough to create an extension for Chrome called “Strict Workflow.” This extension works by blocking websites that you request. You start a timer that you can adjust for your own needs and it blocks the sites for the time allotted. Then it starts another timer for your break time.

It’s funny what you can find to distract you when you really don’t want to be working. Even the simplest thing can make your mind wander. Keeping your physical work area clean can help you be more efficient with your online workspace. Keep your room free of things like distracting art work, décor, toys, views, or anything else. Be careful to not make your workspace so boring that you dread being there. But be cautious with what you allow into your sacred space.

Communications

Obviously, trying to contact people by snail mail isn’t the best way anymore. But if you aren’t easily accessible, it can be just as much of a waste of time. Keep your lines of communication as open as you can. Don’t waste time on the phone with meaningless calls or texts. Keep your email open in case someone sends you an important message. Just ensure yourself and your coworkers that if something comes up, they will be able to contact you with any questions or comments.

Internet Connection

A poor internet connection can be a major downfall if you are working from home. Make sure that you have internet that is fast enough to keep up with all the things you need to do. Also, make sure that it is reliable enough to keep you connected. You don’t want to be cutting in and out if you are on a Skype call with a client or your boss. Additionally, make sure that your internet connection is safe and secure.

Be smart about how you are spending your time at work, whether it be in the office or at home. By utilizing your time online and working more efficiently, you will feel more fulfilled in your work and your employer is sure to notice!

Jake Magleby graduated from NYU with a degree in Business Management, and now he helps small business owners increase their revenue and online traffic. Jake enjoys writing about finance, sales, marketing, and Toronto SEO services. You can find more of his work at his blog, Franchise a Business.

Mother in living room with baby smilingAt the 2012 SheCon New Media conference, someone asked a panel of niche writing experts whether or not writing skills were important for bloggers. “Do you need to be able to write to have a blog?” The question drew a laugh from the audience, but it did open up a discussion about working from home and successfully making a living. Being a work-from-home mom is not for the faint of heart, but there are ways you can start earning an income from home and still make time for your children.

Own Your Ability

This is the holy grail of work-from-home employment. Work-from-home parents have created a business out of their house. The phrase “work-from-home mom” is pejorative. Let’s call it what it is — a female-owned small business. Taking it from this point of view, all the rules of business ownership apply. As a small business owner, you are your greatest asset. Develop a written business plan with your ability at the center.

Your plan should include an executive summary and general company description. Describe what products or services your company will offer and what you will do with your startup expenses. You should also include a marketing plan, advertising plan and financial plan. Top Ten Reviews has a list of business planning software, most of which are available for under $100.

Train Your Children

Being a work-from-home mom means being able to write the business plan while feeding children, handling homework and any other combination of the millions of things a mom does in the course of a day.

Knowing this, and understanding that being a parent is already a hefty job, lay out the day so work actually gets done. If your children are school age, there are about six hours of uninterrupted work time to be had. Successful work-from-home parents have rules about work time and mommy time that are just as important for the parent as they are for the child. Some rules to live by when you’re a work-from-home mom include:

  • Have a set work space
  • Plan out your whole day
  • Avoid home distractions
  • Maintain communication with your children
  • Set “office hours”
  • Stay focused, don’t try to multitask work with personal matters
  • Stay active and healthy with your children
  • Schedule face time with colleagues and clients

Get Practical, and Remember Your Goal

On one hand, you want to make money. On the other, you want to be a good mom. Doing both well is the goal. Technology can really help with this. There is a whole new line of tablets that have enough functionality to use to run a business, while being simple enough to have kids games that are educational. The smart work-from-home mom will be able to work from any location, multitasking between swing sets and spreadsheets.

So you love kids, have free time, and are looking for a way to make some extra money and to provide a valuable service to the parents in your community. Setting up a home daycare center is perfect — right? Maybe.

daycareWhile it can be infinitely rewarding, it can be equally challenging and can also bring a litany of legal issues and complicate your home life. It’s a huge leap, and it isn’t just babysitting. Consider the pros and cons before you take the plunge into running a daycare center out of your home.

Running a daycare center out of your home can be extremely rewarding — and challenging.

Think of Your Own Kids

On the bright side, running a daycare from home can be awesome if you have children of your own. It instantly makes them new friends on their own turf, and it gives you an excuse to buy them new toys or activities that can also serve as a tax write-off.

It can, however, also stress them out. Many kids aren’t great about sharing toys, space — or mom or dad — all day long with a bunch of other kids. Know your child and his or her personality, and try to make a realistic assessment of whether or not it will really work.

Legal Issues

Opening a home daycare comes with a slew of legal hurdles — and for good reason. Every responsible parent would agree that there should be tight regulations determining what can and cannot happen at a childcare center, and that the rules shouldn’t change just because you call it home.

Regulations vary state by state. It’s imperative that you find out every legal detail, from operating hours to nutritional requirements to permitted activities and supervision demands.

Overbearing Parents

When a parent drops off their kid at your house, they’re trusting you with their entire world. This isn’t a normal work-at-home gig. You’re not making jewelry or bedazzling purses. Even the most easygoing parents are going to want to be involved, have questions, and raise concerns. You can never blow them off or dismiss their concerns — no matter how trivial.

Some parents who are overprotective or naturally anxious anyway can be a nightmare when it comes to leaving their kids in your custody. The good news is, you don’t have to work with anyone you don’t want to work with — kids or parents.

Kids Are a Lot to Handle

daycare2Even for those of us who love kids, they can be a handful. A house full of them can be a bit much, not only for you but for your spouse, older children, and pets. Are you really cut out for this? A dozen or more children in the only private space you have in the entire world, your home, every day, all under the sometimes scary group mentality that kids in a crowd are prone to exhibiting. It’s a big dish to handle day in and day out. Be honest about your capabilities.
Running a daycare from home is not for everyone, but it can be an exciting and profitable venture.

Uncertainties

Working from home as your own boss is both amazing and frightening. Amazing because you don’t have a boss telling you what you can and cannot do, and frightening because you don’t have a steady job with set hours and pay. When kids get sick or a family goes on vacation or someone’s dad has to move to Toledo for work, your income is going to fluctuate. Getting and keeping parents to provide your business with children is difficult. Guessing their patterns or consistency in the future is impossible.

Where to Start

If you think you’re ready and you’re sure that this is for you, consider working for a while as an aid — or even a volunteer — in a local daycare. It will give you a much better gauge of what to expect and how to handle the inevitable crises. Do your research. Check out self-help lists that are filled with tricks of the trade from those who came before you. Most importantly, stay positive and get ready to make your home the favorite destination of every kid in town.

Andrew Lisa is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. He frequently writes about childcare and merchandise like strollers and car seats.

Working from home is the ultimate dream for many people. You can start (and stop) work when you like, go to the gym for that class you can never make and even take care of the kids without springing for 40-hour per week childcare.

As someone who works from home, I can attest all the good things you’ve heard about it are true, but working from home is only for a certain kind of person. The good news is you can become a work from home type with a little dedication.

Type-A personalities that are really driven and who are also morning people are the ideal telecommuters. There’s no room for procrastination or getting distracted by looking for the best deer deterrent online, which can be very easy when you’re in comfortable surroundings. I personally work 10+ hours per day on a couch, but other people need more separation than that. Here’s a look at some traditional ways to work from home that might be up your alley, as well as some real alternatives.

The Old School Approach

The basic tips for working from home are designed for people who really shouldn’t be telecommuting in the first place. For example, getting ready for work just like you’re going into the office: isn’t this one of the biggest perks of telecommuting? However, if you need to put on slacks and do your hair in order to start writing those reports from your guest room, then do it. Whatever it takes to succeed should be done.

Other basic advice is having a clear work area (preferably a home office), keeping to a schedule every day, like starting work at 8am and having lunch at noon and never trying to juggle professional and personal duties. These stringent rules can help someone immensely who struggles with time management. However, I think if these rules are necessary to be a telecommuter, you might as well go into the office where structure is a little easier to come by.

The Flex Approach

You’ve spent years building your career so you’d have the freedom to work from home, so don’t give it up now. Instead, consider exactly what needs to be done each day in order to make the income you’d like. For freelancers who have complete control of their income, knowing for every $100 you make per work day is equal to $25,000 per year can help you track your daily income. If you’re on salary, what do you need to do every day to stay on top?

If you’re a morning person, take advantage of that and buckle down in the early hours. Know your prime time for working and use it to your advantage. If you work better in the afternoons, use the mornings for easy tasks, prep work and taking care of any personal items. You’re somewhat your own boss, and you need to make sure your employee is on task.

Red Flags to Watch

The first time a person works from home, it’s kind of like the first time a kid walks to school alone. There are seemingly endless possibilities and distractions. On the other hand, you might want to work extra hard and find yourself with a lot of down time by the time noon rolls around. Pace yourself, don’t let quality slip and if you’re working for a corporation, remember communication with managers and colleagues is key to showcasing you’re still a full team member.

Remember that people who work from home often work more than those in an office. However, it may not seem that way since there’s no down time. Having a list of tasks to do each day helps tremendously, and if you find yourself getting distracted, get rid of the problem immediately.

Adrienne is a freelance writer/stay-at-home-blogger/marketer who wears many hats. You can see more of her work on Twitter at @adrienneerin.