Is Working From Home Right For You?

So, you are thinking of starting a transcription services business.

Maybe you love the idea of being able to work at home and relish the notion of spending more time with the family, but you’re just not sure this is the right road for you.  That’s natural – you are not alone in your doubts.  Just about every person who has ever launched a successful at-home business has faced these concerns, and sometimes it can take quite a while for them to dissipate.

Sipping coffee in your pyjamas while the rest of the workforce struggles to get into the office may sound tempting, but being the boss of a home-based transcription business is not something that everyone is cut out for.  It requires a lot of dedication, discipline and patience.

Working from home will be one of the biggest changes you make to your life.  Even if you are already at home looking after the children adding a new career into the mix will require some major adjustments. Before you take the leap you must weigh up the pros and cons and review such things as finances, family support and whether you can handle working in isolation.  Some people thrive in this situation, but others wither.

Financial Positioning Matters

If you’re planning on leaving salaried employment to work at home as a typist, having a good handle on your finances is a must.  In most cases it will take some time to generate enough business or freelance work to replace a day job.  Beyond the capital needed to launch the business, you might also need a nest egg to cover the start-up period.

How much money to set aside will be dependent on a number of factors.  These include:

  • Your monthly bills
    What is your contribution to the family’s finances every month?  The money you put by to get started in your home-based transcription services career should cover your living expenses for at least a few months. Three months should be sufficient, but it’s safer to have funds to cover six or even twelve months.  Keep these figures separate from your business expenses.
  • Anticipated extra expenses
    Establishing a business at home often requires some upfront capital.  Beyond what is needed to cover household expenses, you may need to set aside money for equipment, marketing, national insurance/tax and so on.  You might be eligible for a small business loan, but for many at-home operations, you’ll be on your own with start-up costs.
  • Projected “red period”
    To be on the safe side anticipate a period of running in the red, and make sure you have the money to cover it, at least until your clients pay their invoices.
  • Decide how much money you want to earn
    Amazingly this is one aspect of working from home that most people neglect to think about.  You need to work out how much you want to earn and what your hourly rate will be.To arrive at your hourly rate come up with a figure for your desired monthly income.  This is an amount that will pay your bills and taxes, and leave you with sufficient funds to live on.  For the purpose of this calculation we’re going to say that you want to earn £3,000 a month, working eight hours a day five days a week.To calculate your hourly wage you need to divide the £3,000 with the total number of hours worked in the month which is 160 (8 X 5 X 4).£3,000/160 = £18.75

    So you will need to earn £150.00 every day (8 x £18.75) you work to achieve your desired income level.  However, £18.75 may not actually be enough. The reason for this is that you could well spend an hour a day marketing your business or looking for work as well as getting stuck into chores such as writing and checking emails.

    Your working day might then consist of six hours paid work, and two hours unpaid.  Therefore, you will need to revise up your hourly typing rate so you can earn the £150 a day target you’ve set for yourself.

    Your new calculation will be based on working 120 hours a month not 160 (6X5X4).

    So, £3,000/120=£25

    Even if you are being offered set fee projects this calculation can help you decide whether to accept them or not.  And it can help you to decide what rates to set.  For example, if a company offers you a fee of £50 for some typing work and you estimate that it will take you four hours to complete, then the amount does not correspond to your rates.

If you don’t have the ready funds to cover your first few months consider taking out loans, activating a savings plan or just working at your business part-time at first.  There are ways to make your dream happen even if the cash isn’t available as quickly as you’d like it to be.

Family Support Is Crucial

Your new venture needs your family’s full support and understanding.  Many home-based workers experience difficulties because of the distractions they have to deal with every day.  A nagging toddler who demands attention or the music blaring out of a teenager’s bedroom will hamper your ability to get your work done.

At first, my family found it very difficult to appreciate that I was actually running a business from my home.  I had to explain to my relatives that they were phoning me so many times during the day that all the calls combined added up to a significant portion of my working day.  If I was working in an office this would never have been acceptable.

To make sure your family is on board, ask yourself these things:

  • Have I discussed the idea thoroughly with all family members?
    If you haven’t, you need to do so. Tactfully explain that your working hours are just as important as if you were sitting in an office, and that interruptions will disrupt your routine.  You need to draw boundaries between your personal and professional life.
  • Will older family members provide backup during emergencies?
    Work at home mums and dads still need to attend meetings, hit deadlines and get out and about to network.  In these situations it’s a good idea to have someone on standby who can step in and take care of the children and/or household duties.
  • Will family members pitch in?
    Working at home doesn’t mean you can or should handle everything.  It will be of immense help to you if family members can pitch in with chores and do their part to ensure the household is running smoothly.

There’s no doubt about it, starting a transcription services business and working at home after being based in an office can be a challenging adjustment for the entire family to make.  If you are a stay at home mum or dad, those challenges will be even greater.  After all, everyone is used to having you around 24/7.  But now there will be times when you are not available because of your work duties.

If your family is truly on board, you will have an edge in whatever endeavour you pursue.

Self-Discipline Gets The Job Done

It will not matter how much money you’ve put aside to get started or how supportive your family is if you aren’t self-disciplined.  Working from home is still a professional job and one of the attractions is not having a boss.  With nobody to answer to, it’s up to you to make sure that your day isn’t spent lounging on sofas or entertaining friends over long lunches.  Being your own boss is not a piece of cake, and self-discipline is one of the most important characteristics you must possess. This goes for telecommuters who work full-time for companies as much as it does for would-be entrepreneurs.

To see if you’ve got what it takes answer the following questions frankly and honestly:

  • Am I motivated?
    If you don’t have the motivation and drive to get up in the morning and get to work, an at-home business will be on shaky grounds from the start.  While half the reward of working at home is to enjoy a better work-life balance, you still need to focus on your career goals with steely determination.  Just like raising your children, an at-home career requires time, attention and some serious nurturing.
  • Can I set hours and stick with them?
    When you own the operation or work as a freelancer, you can set your own hours.  Of course you can knock off early to play with the kids once in a while, but you will need to set out your working hours and stick to them.
  • Can I resist temptations?
    Some of the biggest challenges you will face are avoiding distractions.  With no one else around to monitor your progress and effort it can be all too easy to give into the gravitational pull of the television, video game console and even housework.  Other distractions include pets, children, Internet surfing and continually checking emails.  Give into temptation too often and your venture might not fly.

Handling Isolation

Depending on the type of business you are planning on pursuing, you might find yourself cut-off from other people.  There are no other workers around, no office banter, and no IT department to help you if your computer has a breakdown.  While this isn’t a problem for many, such social isolation can drive some people crazy.  Make sure you know where you stand on the issue before you move forward.

If you are concerned about this, here are a few ways to help you deal with the isolation:

  • Joining networking groups
    This is an excellent way to get out of the house on a weekly or monthly basis.  Plus, it can help you get the name of your business out there.  A quick search on Google for “local business networking events” will deliver pages of results.The BNI is without a doubt the most famous -http://www.bni.eu/uk/
  • Accepting local clients
    Even if your typing business happens to be an Internet-based typing company you can still look for and accept local clients.  This can get you out of the “office” once in a while and help you grow your business too.
  • Planning off-time activities
    Plan off-time activities that do not involve staying in the house. Even a trip to the park with the children every few days can keep your sanity in check.  Grocery runs do not count!
  • Further educationConsider taking up a part-time or night school FE course. Not only will this get you out and about mingling with likeminded people, but you may also pick up some valuable contacts.

Making the choice to work at home can be one of the best decisions you ever make.  To make sure the move is right for you, however, do take the time to examine the pros and cons carefully, and answer questions about yourself and your situation honestly.

Create a Business Plan

A business plan is the blueprint for your transcription service business and the foundation for your success.  A builder wouldn’t construct a home without first consulting the plans.  The same should be true of your new enterprise. As they say, failure to plan is planning to fail.

Your business plan will include such things as financial and sales projections, analysis of the competition, a marketing plan and an overview of the industry you will be a part of.

A business plan will help you to decide on your goals and to secure funding, such as bank loans.

For some advice, guidance and video tutorials about business plans visit http://www.smallbusiness.co.uk/starting-a-business/ideas-and-business-planning/

This should get you thinking about starting a transcription services company and the next articles will help you set one up.

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