6 Things a Work-From-Home Entrepreneur Can Tell You You are on your own when you decide to go solo – so inevitably you should be your biggest advocate
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About this time last year, I had happily quit a job that had increasingly become a noose around my neck. Don't get me wrong - I loved my job and it built me to every ounce of what I am today. But you get my drift, right? Eventually I felt that I needed something more out of life, with independence and solitary responsibility to my actions and blah blah blah.
So here I was on my way to "explore life on my own terms" and work for myself, rather than fulfilling somebody's else dream. Lofty ideas and clich?s aside, I finally figured what I essentially wanted was not just more money but also a sense of personal responsibility and freedom in the work I did. I am a PR Consultant with experience across sectors like FMCG, Retail, Healthcare, Education, AdTech, FinTech and the list goes on. However, till about mid last year, I did not quite understand the intensity of what I felt in the time to come:
It's Tougher Than It Looks
We all have that one friend-of-friend who seems to have the god-bestowed life because he/she works from home and we envy their pyjama-wearing-work-meeting liberties in life. Trust me, you will not understand this side of the deep-end till you actually drown into it at least once. I remember taking a two-week break after my job to figure out my finances, opportunities and the roadmap ahead. It seemed uncannily perfect till the day I actually switched on my laptop and saw a blank screen with no direction or leftover to-dos from the day before.
Working from Home is not only tough but also excruciating to say the least. There will be days when your bed will seduce you more than your work, days where the latest episode of Orange is the New Black might feel more important than that the press release you promised your client or days where you might not see another human until you consciously make an effort to meet with friends.
Goal-Setting is the Key
While I worked on my time management and distraction-ending skills, I realized that working-from-home meant putting a larger focus on your schedule and to-dos compared to when you had a job. See, in a conventional job, you will most likely have peers or a boss who will keep the machinery running and you will be a part of it. Here, you are the entire machinery and its constitutive parts. That meant, creating an annual or half-yearly roadmap to your goals, based on which you can segregate smaller goals to fit into your monthly, weekly and then your daily schedules.
Brave Your Senses to Be Disruptive
As a PR professional, one of the biggest performance metrics is based on the way we can interact with the media. Taking this as an instance - one of the first and most important changes in the last year was the way I interacted with journalists. Stemming away from the standardized formats of communication, I found exponentially higher success in converting my pitches into real stories in the media because I constantly experimented with the language, content, ideas of my e-mails and increased my engagement with them on platforms like Twitter. I researched longer on topics to create a well-read and sound voice. Small changes like these in your own business can help you break into innovative solutions every day.
Be a Good Salesperson
You are on your own when you decide to go solo - so inevitably you should be your biggest advocate. Showcase your work capabilities along with your enthusiasm to work. I learnt that spending a dedicated amount of time in the lookout for opportunities, projects, new connections on platforms like LinkedIn and peer networking groups go a long way in not just finding work but also creating acquaintances who will refer you to more business in future. Remember those vendors you didn't bother to speak in the last one year? It's time you picked up the phone or sent them a season's gift to keep you in their mind.
To De-Stress is to Grow
Believe it or not, you should take as many (healthy) breaks as possible - whether it is those 40-minute breaks to catch a new episode of your favourite show, allotting an hour to read/watch something of your choice or locking your phone away for a week in Vietnam. This will not only help you re-boot your entire system and schedule but a lot of times it has helped me to step away from the daily conundrums and give a fresh perspective to a lot of client strategies and roadmaps when I get back. Now of course, you cannot quite vacation pretending you're Richard Branson (unless you are) which brings me to my last but most pertinent point.
Take a Stock of Your Finances
This comes at the last because it is one of the most hard-hitting habits that comes to any of us. Remember that part in the first half of this article where I wrote I took a two week break to figure out my finances? Guess what - When I did try to dabble my hands into savings and financial goals, I ended up dropping at least two days coming to terms of reality; and consequently, researching on how I could become a smart financial planner for the year ahead. Taking a stock of your finances and re-grouping the plan should come in every quarter where you lay out smart investment avenues to grow your money. Assuming that a large part of time the money doesn't come in as regularly as a salaried person, you ought to understand your specific spending areas and overall patterns, highlighting the red flags and straighten a plan towards practical saving options. Without that, there is no daiquiri on the sunset yacht or the dream row house along the beach.