Is a Home-Based Business Right for You? Ask Yourself These 5 Questions First The lifestyle that comes with a home-based franchise may seem carefree, but it's not for everyone. Here are five questions to ask yourself to see if this type of business is for you.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
The lifestyle that comes with owning a home-based business may seem carefree. Without the set hours of a brick-and-mortar business and no daily commute, you can enjoy a flexible schedule and have more time for yourself, right?
Yes, it's possible — but not everyone is cut out to run a home-based business, and not every home-based franchise owner spends his or her day in a bathrobe sitting at a computer. In fact, most home-based franchises require you to be out and about, interacting with the community. The success of a home-based business depends on the owner's efforts. There's a certain amount of hustle required.
Here are five questions to ask yourself to see if this type of franchise is for you.
1. Are you self-motivated?
One of the biggest benefits of a home-based franchise is low overhead. There are no expensive leases or build-outs to worry about. But without a storefront, you will need to find ways to get the word out about your business. After all, customers are not going to come knocking at your door.
Many service-based businesses get leads through Google Ad Words or through websites like Home Advisor. Consider the expense of these services, and ask yourself if are you able and willing to follow up on leads right away. With some franchises, such as personal training services, billboards or newspaper advertising may help drum up business. Unless the franchise system has a call center, you are responsible for scheduling appointments and following up on leads.
The success of other types of home-based franchises, such as school enrichment programs, relies on the local relationships you make. Are you motivated to go out and visit with community leaders and school officials? Are you willing to exhibit at local trade shows, participate in your local chamber of commerce meetings or attend community events? Home-based business owners should be driven to find business.
2. Can you set boundaries at home?
Is your house too chaotic to conduct business? Setting expectations and boundaries with family equals sanity for home-based business owners. For example, your business computer shouldn't be used for your son's homework. A "do not disturb" sign on your office door prevents family members from barging in and interrupting important meetings.
Will your clients hear kids screaming in the background? Daycare arrangements should be worked out ahead of time with your spouse. Your toddler might be adorable, but having him along on a sales call won't necessarily help close that deal. By agreeing to ground rules ahead of time, everyone in the house will know what's okay and what's off-limits.
3. Can you ignore distractions during work time?
If you cave in to every distraction at home, you'll never get anything done for your business. Can you ignore that messy kitchen or exploding laundry pile? If the dog is always barking, will you be able to focus? Without a lot of structure, home-based franchises are not for everyone. If you're not super-focused by nature, ask yourself if you'll be able to separate business responsibilities from household ones. If the answer is "no," you might be better off with a more structured option. The key is to be honest with yourself.
4. Can you set your own schedule and deadlines?
Setting a plan for each day with goals and deadlines is the best way to stay ahead of your home-based business. Juggling multiple roles and tasks is much easier with a plan in place. Can you create a schedule for yourself and stick to it? When exploring an opportunity, see if the franchisor has a recommended schedule, or if other franchisees can give you examples of how they manage their day-to-day tasks. One of the best parts of franchise ownership is being able to share best practices. Understand what success means in the franchise you're considering and ask yourself if you are up for the challenge.
5. Do you know when to stop working?
While getting motivated may be difficult for some home-based franchise owners, putting an end to the workday can be a problem for others. As a home-based franchise owner your home doubles as your office. The reminder of work is always present. Will you be tempted to keep burning the midnight oil? Will you be able to keep regular hours and enjoy a healthy work-life balance? At some point, you have to shut down to close the computer and have time for yourself. Being able to compartmentalize is key.
Finding the perfect home-based business
Home-based businesses are great for many reasons, but they are not for everyone, and they all work differently. Before you decide on one, make sure it will work for you. It's important to do your due diligence before any franchise purchase. There are many resources available to guide you through the process. Web research, visiting trade shows and subscribing to franchise publications are all great places to start.
To help narrow your choices, you can seek the help of a certified franchise consultant. These industry professionals help aspiring franchise owners find opportunities that work with their lifestyles, interests and financial situations. With your background in mind, a franchise consultant will show you opportunities you may have never considered. With so many options out there, there is likely to be a home-based business that's perfect for you. Take the time to explore and find the one that best suits your lifestyle and priorities.