What’s Best For You: Finding the Right Home-Based Business
Written by Traveling Vineyard on February 18, 2015
The problem with the internet is that when you’re trying to research something – say, “best home-based jobs” – and you’re greeted with hundreds of millions of results. There are articles, lists, ads, blog posts, reviews, forums, and all kinds of websites from both reputable and less honorable sources. It’s overwhelming.
That’s where this series of blog posts comes in. In our first post, we laid out the differences between working for yourself, working for someone else, and working with someone else (i.e., direct sales and marketing). Depending on your personality and skills, some options will emerge as frontrunners, and the search gets to be a little less exhausting. If you used the resource we provided last time, you should have a solid list of possibilities. Now it’s time to build on that momentum with more specific information and start narrowing down your options.
Time for Brutal Honesty
At this point it’s good to have trustworthy friends and family to help you, but it’s even more important if you can be honest with yourself. There are two key questions:
- Why do you want to work from home? What benefits do you hope to get from the experience? (There’s no right or wrong or best or worst answer, we promise.)
- What’s going to make working from home difficult for you? What are your limitations? (This is where it’s important to be brutally honest, as this’ll only help you in the long run.)
Why do you want to work from home?
The first thing you need to know when you start narrowing down your work-from-home options is what you hope to get from the experience. Everyone has his or her own reasons, but there are definitely some common themes.
Most of the people who are trying to find the right home-based business are motivated at least in part because they need or want the additional income. The amount needed, coupled with the constraints you face in working from home, is going to be a huge factor in which home-based business is going to be best for you. This is likely going to be the most difficult factor to analyze unless you’re working for a company with a guaranteed salary, but most places will at least help you project the possibilities.
Take a moment to consider how much of a factor this is for you. Think about how much you’d like to earn, whether just enough to take one bill off the family income or the equivalent of a full-time salary.
Paycheck amount aside, people can seek out home-based employment because they’re craving a challenge and a sense of accomplishment. If this is a big priority, this will also have an impact on which opportunity you should pursue. What gives you a sense of achievement? Is it the completion of specific projects like working with your hands and having a physical representation of your efforts? Then maybe you should focus on something more crafts-based, like opening your own Etsy shop or working for someone else with an at-home assembly job (you’d probably be miserable as a data-entry clerk).
People who are introverted, however, and prefer working with minimal interactions with others, would probably enjoy data entry. Just the solid sense of meeting your self-set goals – whether task-based or financially-oriented – can be enough to fill someone with pride. And finding an organization that is rich in rewards and recognition is going to benefit anyone hoping to achieve.
Are you seeking a sense of accomplishment? What makes you feel proud of yourself?
On that note: what inspires you? Is there work that sounds fun, like selling makeup to your friends and helping them try on the products? Or perhaps you want to help men and women improve their romantic lives and you feel comfortable selling products that would make many people blush. Maybe the lifelong student in you is only happy when you’re continually challenged or are learning something.
Review your list of possibilities. Which of these will you actually enjoy? Which will you enjoy the most?
Many people who take on work-at-home jobs are looking for a venue for meeting new people. Either they’re stay-at-home parents who spend most of their free time with their kids or they just moved and are hoping to make friends or they’re just ready to mix things up socially.
Of course, some people are already pretty happy with the friends they have and aren’t looking for a new community. Introverts and extroverts alike may be looking for work that lets them put their heads down and forge ahead.
Is meeting and interacting with new people exciting for you? Are you looking for a supportive community of like-minded individuals? Or are you strictly interested in professional opportunities?
While those listed above are some of the most common benefits sought by those interested in choosing a home-based business, they are by no means the only options. Stop and really consider what else is motivating you to seek out a work-at-home job.
Is there a product or mission you’re particularly passionate about? Are you interested in learning or trying something totally new? Are you worried about job security? Do you fiercely guard your independence? What other criteria are you considering?
What’s going to make working from home difficult for you?
In addition to motivations, all job seekers have constraints or limitations they must work within, unique to their lives and circumstances. In the last post, we discussed a lot of personality constraints: if you’re a crafty extrovert, medical claims billing from home is going to bore you to tears even if the money is bankrolling your Cristal and caviar lifestyle. You’ll be miserable while you work.
You have to balance why you want to work from home with the facts. What parameters must you consider when you’re weighing your home-based business opportunities?
Time and Flexibility
Think about your schedule. How much time can you devote to working from home and at what hours? Do you want to work 10 hours a week or 40? If you jump into something that doesn’t let you work often enough or demands too much of your time, it’s not right for you.
It’s not just about the number of hours, either. It’s about the flexibility. Some positions, like home-based telemarketing, require workers to be available at certain times during the day. That might not work if you’ve got kids to watch or drive to school and soccer practice or if you’re taking on a home-based business in addition to a full-time job. If you need flexibility, working for yourself or direct marketing and selling is probably best for you. Want a strict schedule? Working for a company as a virtual assistant, transcriptionist, or in another position is a better idea.
Stop and consider: What does your average week look like? What are your scheduling needs?
Overhead Costs and Training
Can you afford to pay overhead costs or for training? Medical transcription and other positions that require training can cost thousands upfront, but they may also offer higher pay. Direct selling often means carrying stock in whatever you’re selling: makeup, kitchen accessories, jewelry, or any number of other options. Perform due diligence to make sure you know exactly what to expect in upfront costs – no one likes this kind of surprise.
Stop and consider: How much can you afford to pay upfront? Will you get the training you require or will you need to provide it yourself?
Speaking of keeping inventory on hand: do you literally have the right space in your life for whatever you choose to do? If you’re in a studio apartment or drive a tiny hatchback, you don’t have room for a ton of boxes. On the other hand, taking calls as an at-home call center representative means you’d need a quiet space with reliable phone service and fast internet. Home-based crafters need space both to work and to store their creations. A carpenter and a soapmaker have vastly different requirements in space, materials, and storage.
Stop and consider: Take a look around the home you’ll be basing your business out of. What are your limitations?
Time, fees, and space are important factors to consider, and if you sacrifice too much of any, you’ll quickly quit.
Take a minute to consider other possible limitations. Are you physically capable of doing what each job requires? Will your friends and family approve of your choice? Will you need transportation that you don’t have? Are you worried about your workload?
Weigh your goals with whatever factors will hinder your success and start narrowing down your list of possible work-from-home jobs.
It takes a little time to weed through the results of your research, but it’s worth it. Next up is an even more important part of the process.
And just in case you were wondering about how Traveling Vineyard answers these questions, check out our Wine Guide Benefits.
Do the Research
“This ad says I can make $3,000 a week working from home! Awesome!”
Signing up for a home-based business opportunity without doing some intense research first puts you at a high risk of being scammed. Making over six figures from home is possible … but there’s going to be a lot of fine print on that paycheck.
Basic Due Diligence
Imagine your best friend questioning you about your stay-at-home job. Could you answer all the questions, like how long the company has been in business, what training and support the company offers, what the fees and costs are, or what exactly the company does? Have you checked out the company’s ranking on the BBB? When selling your wares online, is Etsy, eBay, or another site better for your goods, and what are their fees per post? Online search engines are the fastest and easiest way to find these answers.
Other Signs of Legitimacy
Beyond just gathering vital stats, there are other clues to let you know what kind of business model you’re considering following:
- Do they have an active, well-maintained website?
- Is their social media presence welcoming and positive?
- Do the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and Direct Selling Association, along with other reputation management websites like Glassdoor, have an overall positive rating of the organization?
Ask the Experts
One of the best ways to figure out if a home business opportunity is legitimate – if a business model is proven – is to ask people with first hand experience. If you know people who are active within the organization (or if you can find them through the website or on social media), ask for their opinions – their brutally honest opinions. What do/did they like about it? What frustrates them? When did they quit and why (if applicable)?
Trust your gut. Even easier, trust your face: if you’re reading the company’s site or a review by the BBB and find yourself frowning or pursing your lips, that’s not a good thing. Your time, money, and efforts are precious. Don’t give them up without making sure it’s worth it.
Just to Recap
So, if you’ve been following along at home, here are the questions you should have asked and answered for each item on your list of possibilities:
- Does this job match my personality, interests, and skills?
- Does this job align with all of the goals and benefits I’m seeking?
- Does this job fit within my unique constraints?
- Is this a legitimate, proven business model?
Ask these questions for every company or opportunity you’re looking into during your quest to find the right home-based business for you.
You can download this matrix, which will help you easily organize your goals and constraints and review the results of your due diligence and research.
When you find yourself with more questions, get them answered. Remember: in the search for a stay-at-home job, brutal honesty is an absolute necessity.
All this honesty is exhausting.
We know. But it’s for the best, we promise. You’re the only person who can really decide on the best option for you when it comes to your home-based career. We’ll do our best to help guide you in making that decision, no matter what it may be.
Once you’ve chosen the best option for you, it’s time to put your plan into action with Finalizing the Details: Setting Up Your Home-Based Business.
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