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Working From Home – The Ups and Downs

Hard at workIf you want to give up the 9-5 drill, are a stay-at-home mom looking for ways to make pocket money, or unemployed, starting your own business from home may be an option. If you are in full time employment, do not make any rash decisions and quit your job, as working from home is not for everyone.


What jobs can be done from home?

The Internet has created a wealth of work-from-home possibilities and with instant messaging, emails and Skype, people on two different continents can be connected instantly. Those who are computer literate could explore several opportunities, which include:

  •    A virtual PA – a person who offers office support and administration services from home;
  •    Website design;
  •    Bookkeeping;
  •    Technical, academic or creative writing;
  •    Copywriting and editing;
  •    Completing online surveys or database entries.

There are many other works at home opportunities, for those who feel they are not too skilled on the computer and who try to stay away from the Internet and these are:

  •    Becoming a Day Mother or a small playgroup (registration with authorities is required);
  •    Providing lifts for school children, or for the elderly (this may require applying for a PDP driving permit);
  •    Personal shopper;
  •    Photography;
  •    Hairdressing or nails;
  •    Baking;
  •    Craftwork.


The advantages of working from home

For moms, one of the benefits of working from home is that they will be able to provide fulltime care for their kids, while earning an income. Money will be saved on travelling costs and also on clothing (there is no need to dress up to work from home), and money will not have to be spent on childcare.

When kids are sick or want to attend dance lessons or join clubs, moms will not need to take time off work – they will simply need to restructure their schedules to fit in their children’s activities.

Some moms (or dads) look for work at home opportunities so that they can home school their children.


The disadvantages

The decision to work from home usually entails starting a small business, and this means keeping records of income and expenses (for tax purposes) and registering the business. Depending on the expected income of the business, it may a good idea to employ a professional bookkeeper to handle the financial side of the business. Business may be slow for the first few months and as such, access should be available to savings that will cover everyday living costs as well as the businesses’ operating costs.

Moms who are used to the hustle and bustle of the corporate world may feel very isolated after a while and miss the coffee breaks and lunchtime chatter. Working from home can be lonely.

For any venture to be successful, hard work and discipline is needed. When working at home, moms may be tempted to do many other things, rather than work. A good idea is to set up a work schedule and to stick to it.

Most people who work from home do not keep regular office hours and they may be tempted to work late at night on weekends.

When the decision has been made to work for you from home, there is no leave pay, no sick leave and no bonuses.


Things to consider before taking the leap

If you are planning to contract to overseas clients, remember that payments may be delayed and banks will charge higher rates to convert foreign currency.

If you are working over the Internet, be sure to take into account the cost of paying for the Internet connection.

Do you have the space to work from home?

If you are providing services using a computer, it is recommended that the latest computer software is installed and it will be a good idea to have a backup computer available. If you are not working, you are not earning!

Work will not come looking for you. For your venture to succeed, your services will need to be marketed. Be on the lookout for free websites to find companies or individuals looking for a service that you can offer, or advertise your services on the many free websites.

Don’t forget to save for retirement! Try to put money away each month to cover slow months or when unexpected events prevent you from working

Be careful of work at home scams which request upfront payments. Use trusted online websites to find work which do not require startup fees or which demand money.

Remember working from home is not for everyone and a lot of moms (or dads) may find the isolation too much to bear, they may also be wary to take the risk. Before you quit your existing job, do your homework and find out how much of a demand there is for the services which you can offer and how much income can you expect to make. Start off on a part time basis and limit the risks.


 – Kathy Baron


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