I dove into working for myself shortly after my oldest son, Beckett, was born. At the time, we were living 18 hours away from all of our family in Charleston where my husband had been stationed. I knew that I wouldn’t have that convenience of a grandparent or aunt to go drop him off to if I needed someone to watch him. I had to find a job that would be flexible with my husband’s uncertain schedule and my need to be home with my son. I went to a community college in Iowa for a year and a half, and I completed my associates degree online through that college from South Carolina while I was pregnant with Beckett, so I had something for a degree, but I wasn’t finding work. Any job that I’d be able to realistically get would probably require working nights & weekends, and I was finding myself alone with an infant often when my husband would leave town for weeks on missions. I didn’t want to do that without reliable friends & family nearby, so I decided not to get a job outside of the home.
Beckett was maybe 7 or 8 months old when I decided to learn more about photography, turn my passion into a way to make a living, and work toward becoming an actual photographer and not just a “mom with a camera” as a lot of people like to call it. Several months later, I had done all of the research, checked all of my boxes, and set up an actual business. I started off slowly doing free shoots to try to gain exposure and content to post on my social media, and eventually grew a steady clientele. I was growing my Facebook page, had a legit website, and I was working a job that I knew I’d be able to take with me no matter where we moved. I dictated my schedule. I could take weeks off if my husband would be out of town for an extended trip. I could only schedule sessions on days I knew he’d be home.
Eventually, my passion for photography grew tedious. I realized I loved photographing my family, but the passion faded slowly when I was photographing others. I went back to working for someone else, and worked at a natural baby store once my family moved close and I had my mom watch Beckett. I loved that job, but while I was working there, I was introduced to Beachbody, and realized I could truly work at home and make more money than I was making having to leave my son to work at the baby store, so I quit, and moved on to direct sales.
Beachbody was a life changer for me in both the weight that I lost while being a coach and the realization of what was out there for me all while being home to watch my son grow. However, the model of that business was so far out of my comfort zone and I struggled to flourish my business when I basically refused to contact strangers and invite them into my fitness groups (does anyone else feel personally offended when someone suggests you buy or use their weight loss programs/items, or is it just me? Like, I know my weight and can do something about it when I’m ready, but thank you. Lol!) So…obviously that fizzled.
Shortly after my flame for Beachbody burned out, I found Agnes & Dora. A small boutique “direct sales” company where I would buy inventory at “wholesale” and mark it up to retail, sell it to customers, ship it myself, and have the potential to grow a team. It was basically the package to be a boutique owner with a lot of the work done for you. Clothes have been my passion for as long as I can remember, so I jumped in, and surprisingly, despite my crazy work history I already have at merely 26 years old, I’m still doing it. I know, we can all be surprised that I’ve lasted at this for almost 3 years now.
I’ve done my fair share of work from home/work for myself/online businesses. I know how these things go by now, but so many ladies are jumping into direct sales/MLM gigs, online businesses (whether these are boutiques, creating their own items to sell on etsy or in a Facebook group), or running a creative business like a photographer or a graphic designer every single day that really don’t know what to expect.
I’m going to tell you some things your work from home/work for yourself friends aren’t telling you that you may want to think about before jumping in to working for yourself.
1. Days Off Are Nearly Impossible
Some people will argue with me on this, I’m sure, but I’ll just say even my days off are not days off. When your home is your place of work, it is extremely hard to put the work away. When you’re working outside of the home, you can power off your computer, turn off the lights, and drive home. You can unwind because you know your work is at work, and you can’t really do it until you head back tomorrow morning. When your work is on your computer that you’re using to check out the new shoes at Target, you know that you could hit *pause* on your online shopping and go do the rest of your work, even though it is 10 o’clock at night on a Saturday.
2. Boundaries are Hard
I’ll say this is more for people who run business on social media. If your customers are contacting you on your personal messenger or if they have your phone number & can text you, you may get a message at any time of the day, any day of the week. Now, this isn’t to say that your customers have no boundaries. They’re contacting you when they realize or see something, and aren’t trying to intrude on your night or your weekend. It is no different than me opening an order from Target when I get home one night, finding a discrepancy in my order, and going to their website and contacting them at 9 PM. They’re simply contacting you in the way that they know how to when they are able to, and while they won’t mind if we wait until Monday morning to respond to them, it is very hard not to respond. I am guilty of working at any time of the day and on any day. I’ll be on vacation and messaging customers back because I know that if I don’t, I might forget and not respond to them. I’ve also had customers who don’t understand if I don’t respond right away. It isn’t unheard of for customers to message you and say “Hey, I messaged you and I see you’ve been online today but you haven’t replied”…on Thanksgiving! I’ve had that happen.
Strongly consider the method you’ll use to contact customers, because this can take a toll on you and has burnt out so many of my fellow social media working mamas. The feeling that you can never really have a day off is too much for a lot of ladies. I personally still prefer the Facebook messenger method for ladies in my group so that I can connect face to name easier & know what they’re referencing, and the few occurrences I’ve had where I don’t respond as fast as they wish, I’ve addressed in those few instances.
3. You Must Be Disciplined
I’m not super organized and I can often be unmotivated when I wake up in the morning. It doesn’t make me the best work from home candidate. It takes a lot of discipline to wake up in the morning and get to work. When you’re working at home, it is easy to get distracted with your list of Netflix shows you want to watch and your cozy couch or to hit the snooze button 30 times because it isn’t like you’re going to be too late walking to your desk. Keeping a routine and even getting ready like you have to go into an actual job helps!
4. You Need to Talk to an Accountant/CPA
Unlike when you do have a boss and have someone issuing you a check and taking care of your withholdings, you’re now going to be in charge of those things like taxes and issuing your own checks to yourself. I am not a tax professional & still don’t really know what the heck I’m paying for most of the time, but you need to have a clear idea of what you’ll need to pay for being self-employed and will need to be planning for this all along! I’ve paid taxes higher than my car costs, and if I wasn’t prepared and had it all set aside, I’m not sure I would’ve been able to do it! An accountant is so crucial!
5. It is Really Easy to Become a Recluse
Working from home + becoming a new mom led to an honestly pretty big depression for me. I’d have piles of work to do, plus I still needed to take care of my kids at the same time, so I just didn’t leave the house. I still have times where I literally won’t leave for a week. You don’t make any “work friends” or anything like that, so it is very easy to just pull back into your shell, hang out at home, and live this way. I’ve done it and it is still a big hurdle I try to overcome, but trying to leave the house even for a quick drive can make a day feel a lot less lonely!
A lot of these make working from home sound negative, but I truly love working from home. I have been able to make a living I didn’t imagine was possible for me all while spending my boys’ childhoods with them. I get stressed & overwhelmed and feel like I always have a plate full of things I could/should be doing, but I still wouldn’t change it for anything. I do wish I’d known what to expect and had planned a little differently for how I currently do things, but you live & you learn. I’m slowly trying to take more time truly off, and I’m trying to live my life to the fullest every day, with work being a sliver of my life instead of the entire thing. Of course, as I say that, I’m also trying to make blogging a job alongside my boutique, but I’m working toward being more productive with my work time so I can more enjoy my breaks and off-time!
Do you work from home and if so, what is your business? Do you struggle with unplugging from work, with setting boundaries, or anything else related to an online business too?