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The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly (Or The Beautiful) Of Working From Home Online

Working from home and being your own boss is the dream of just about anyone who has had to slave away in a crowded office, dirty warehouse, or busy restaurant. Many long for the day where they can take control of their destiny, walk out their office door for the last time and never look back. You may be even thinking of taking that big step yourself too.

But before you do, please take some time to consider the pros and cons of the big move.

The Good…

#1 Ownership: People undervalue the joy of creating things that belong to themselves. No longer will you be working hard just to see all of your effort go to help some faceless investors buy a new yacht. The fruits of your labor and the income it brings will be yours. This includes all your ideas – another aspect of business that people often forget about.

#2 Flexibility: Working from home can often give you the flexibility to set your own hours. Do you like to work in the wee hours of the morning when the world is asleep? You can!

Maybe you prefer to crawl out of bed around noon and then work until sundown. That is an option as well. Your new work schedule will be what you want it to be, allowing you to work when you are at your peak and allocate time to non-work tasks as needed. Rest assure that you will never miss another family event because of a mean employer again.

#3 Freedom To Try New Things: Your ideas and innovations will no longer have to pass through a maze of committees and managers. If you come up with a better mousetrap you can get started on it asap, the risk – and the rewards it may bring – are all yours. If you think it is a good idea then go for it. There is no one standing in your way anymore.

#4 Work Wherever You Want: Mobile technology has made it possible to do most, if not all, of your work from any location you choose. Answer emails while sitting in the local coffee house. Draft a contract from the side of a lake. Participate in a conference call sitting in your hotel room. The chains that once held you to an assigned seat are gone.

#5 Pride: It doesn’t matter if you never become the next Bill Gates or your idea doesn’t land you a fortune, you still had the courage and willpower to strike out on your own. If you did it once you can do it again. Not all businesses strike gold, but if you have the entrepreneurial blood in your veins, you will just pick up the pieces, learn from mistakes, start on the next project and never look back. That is something you can truly proud of.

The Bad…

#1 No Structure: Maybe all those constant deadlines and watching eyes were just what you needed to keep you productive. Once the walls are removed and you are free to do what you choose, many people freeze. Choice paralysis is a real thing. Some people just can’t handle having too much options and being your own boss gives you plenty options. If you can’t handle them, nothing will ever get done.

#2 No Income: Besides some headline-making miracle startups, most startup business ventures fail to make any profit for several months, if not years. If you are contracting out your services it can still take a year or more to build a client base that will provide enough income to match what you left behind at your other job. Most advisors will tell you to have several months of income stashed away before cutting the cord to your current employer – a piece of advice that far too many people ignore.

#3 No Free Time: For many entrepreneurs this is not really a problem because they enjoy working almost 24/7 and have no need for downtime or vacations. For the rest of us time off is a necessity. Being busy might be a good sign that your business is succeeding but the continuous demand will soon suck all the joy out of your new venture. Without a support network to help you manage your day-to-day needs plus several employees or contractors who can shoulder the load while you get some shuteye, your stress (and your blood pressure) may soon become unmanageable.

#4 The Paperwork: Oh Lord, the paperwork! Do you like keeping track of every single dime you spend and make? Do you enjoy filing receipts? Do you enjoy writing purchase orders to yourself so you can buy a stapler? Then you will love working for yourself. Self-employment tax is probably one of the biggest shocks that new entrepreneurs face. The only way to bring this monster down is through careful tracking of all your finances and learning the tax code. As soon as you have two pennies to rub together, go hire a CPA.

#5 The Disbelief: If you think about a career that is super hard but everyone believes is super simple, then you are thinking about teachers; but after teachers come the self-employed. Tell your relatives that you work from home and see how quickly their eyes roll. If you don’t drive a Mercedes-Benz or going for your dream vacation, no one will believe that you are actually “working”. They will just think you are some lazy bum who can’t hold a job. It doesn’t matter if you worked 90 hours this week. You are just another freeloader like Mr. Sam who teaches science in middle school.

The Ugly… (Or The Beautiful)

Striking out on your own and running your own business is a scary and exciting venture. The fact is, not all people can handle it. Unfortunately, there is no tried-and-true litmus test to separate those who will succeed from those who are doomed. Talented people often fail because they are lazy. Uncreative people often succeed because they work hard. No one can truly know until they actually let go of the rope and strike out for the open water. Maybe you will discover new land, maybe you will drown. There is only one way to find out – get started. Nevertheless, if you never start, you can never succeed.

by KM Lee

KM Lee has been a self-employed geek since 2008. Currently he's working full-time from home online. You can also connect with him: