Truths and Lies About Working From Home
It’s officially been just over four years since I opted to ditch the 9-5 and start my journey into entrepreneurship. I will be the first to admit that I didn’t exactly think through all the logistics because at that time, I didn’t really know yet that I was as creative as I’d soon discover. What pushed me to leave my secure job was the birth of my daughter, Riley.
Without my paycheck, we quickly realized it would be difficult to make ends meet and it was at this time something stirred in me to dabble with starting my own business. I knew nothing. And if you read this blog post about my longer-version story to entrepreneurship, you’ll soon realize I truly was clueless BUT, I had a dream.
Then something crazy happened for me on my journey, which was a business that began to grow and flourish. I quickly learned that there were some serious misconceptions I had about what it would be like.
Let’s first start with the lies about working for yourself.
Lie #1: You have to be an expert.
One of the things I learned right out of the gate is that you in no way have to be an expert but you need to have confidence in what you’re doing for others to believe in you, too. As entrepreneurs, we’re constantly learning new things, new techniques, new systems, new everything! I can’t even begin to tell you how many videos I watched on YouTube when I wanted to learn something specific for photography or website design. Yes, I’ve also invested in online education for certain things but a lot of what I have learned was online through free resources.
I don’t know if I’ll ever truly be an expert in anything, because things are always changing. The minute you think you’ve learned all there is to know about let’s say Pinterest, algorithms change and you have to adjust what you know to keep up with what’s happening. The point I’m trying to make is that you don’t have to be an expert to start a business and work for yourself. You have to know what you’re doing, but the expertise part may take more time and will focus in for you the more you dive into a specific niche and what you’re good at.
Every successful person you look up to has almost certainly failed more than once before reaching the peak of their business or achievements
Lie #2: It's too expensive
There are so many investments to be made when it comes to starting a business but it doesn’t mean those things have to be made right at the beginning of your journey. When I started taking pictures, I shot on my dad’s canon rebel for quite awhile as I focused on learning manual mode and figuring out my own aesthetic.
And if you want to know what I deep-heartedly believe it’s that if something really means something to you, that you will find a way regardless of what obstacles stand in your way.
Lie #3: It’s not a ‘real’ job.
I’ve been working from home now for about four years and I know anyone who has never worked from home can truly appreciate it or fully understand it, and that’s okay. I’ve honestly had every job under the sun (ask my friends and family). That includes my time as a server, barista, Target cashier, hostess, bank teller, bookkeeper, juvenile detention center, and the list goes on my friend. The truth? Working from home is 100% the most rewarding, but also the hardest of any of those other titles I’ve had in the past.
Just because someone doesn’t get it, doesn’t mean they will disrespect it. It simply means that they won’t fully understand the responsibility.
The reality is that we are living in a world that has something called technology. This phenomenon is putting thousands, if not millions of people around the world, out of work. I just listened to a podcast episode on the Joe Rogan Experience all about this and the reality that AI and systems are sure to take over certain operations entirely and people with cozy office jobs will soon have a rude awakening (that’s my prediction, anyway.)
So when you’re chatting with someone who works from home, please don’t ever say these next five words together in a sentence. “Don’t you work from home?” In most cases this sentence can be translated to the assumption that what we do from home isn’t has hard as the rest of the jobs out there. If you’re reading this, I just want to keep it real and shed light on the fact that working from home is a challenge.
Lie #4: It’s easier to get things done with so much freedom.
Uhhh… I wish. When you work from home, the separation of work and home becomes a serious struggle, especially if you’re someone like me who is super particular about how my household is run and chores that need to get finished on the daily. When you work in an office, you’re gone, you’re separated and are more easily able to detach from the grind of home life.
Before working from home, it was no big deal when something interrupted something I was doing around the house but now it’s a whole new world. Toilet needs to get fixed? House cleaner? Expecting a package? Someone needs to “swing by real quick”? All of these little things have the power to completely snap me out of my zone and whatever I might be working on at the moment. I’ve finally educated my husband on this reality of mine that sometimes, I get in a creative space and simply cannot be distracted, so he knows to stay away from my office. This creative time usually comes at night after our daughter is in bed but the day-to-day distractions definitely throw off my ability to be more productive.
Truth #1: It can be really isolating
Suddenly, you’ve lost the people you count on for social interaction like work friends and office parties. You’ll start to wonder if you even have any friends anymore and it can be really challenging and mentally exhausting! I can’t tell you enough how important it is to find the time to spend hours away from the work with friends.
When I am given the opportunity to be with my friends, I do my best to make the most of it. Have you ever been with that friend who doesn’t stop checking their phone the entire time? I have, and it’s not fun. Don’t be that person. If you’ve set aside time to spend with your peers, be there. It’s a skill I’ve had to work on as my business never really stops and there’s always a reason to unlock that screen to do something, but don’t. It can wait.
The world won’t stop spinning.
If you’re feeling isolated, try to find local activities and/or groups that can connect you with like-minded people who can not only relate to you on a deeper level, but who can get you out of the house for a break.
Truth #2: It takes incredible discipline
Growing a business from home and being a stay at home mom together as one is by far the most challenging thing I’ve ever done in my life. There once was a time when my computer was set up in my bedroom and let me tell you, the temptation to jump in bed and take a nap would quite literally consume me on some days. Back in 2017, when things really started to grow for me, I was working 24/7. I didn’t have a schedule and the word “batching” was not part of my dictionary. I learned quickly that if you do not stick to a schedule, you’ll most likely fail. I truly believe that as entrepreneurs, we have a gene of hustle build in us that forces us to overwork ourselves and love every minute of it (for the most part). I know I’m not alone when I say that I’d rather work 60 hours for myself than 40 for someone else. These days I’m still running a super busy business with anywhere from 4-12 projects at a time but I manage much more easily because I’ve streamlined my systems, workflows, efficiency at my craft, and I’m also a huge fan of offloading as much work as I can to others.
Discipline also shows up for me when it comes to activities. Sometimes I’ve had to say no to things because I am on a deadline and while it is hard to miss some things, I also have clients who have hired me and invested their own hard-earned money for what I do and I don’t take that responsibility lightly.
Truth #3: Self care can go down the drain
I’m the shining example of this realty in the past because wow, when you work from home, it’s SO easy to put yourself completely last. You’ll quickly burrow yourself down the rabbit hole of excuses and reasons why you don’t need to take care of yourself because there’s just too much to do, all the time. But here’s the thing… the more you’re willing and able to put yourself first, the better you’ll be at running your business. I promise. It might not seem like it but when you do take care of you, exercise, eat well, and do things that fuel you within, you’re going to be happier, more productive and energized. All of those positive attributes that come from self-care will flow into how you run your business.
In any normal office setting, there’s typically a lunch hour. Take that hour! Go for a walk, do a quick workout, take time to sit at the table to eat your lunch, and then get back to it! I love preparing a lunch for myself in the morning when my husband is getting ready to go out the door because it sets me up for success when it is lunchtime and I need a break to regroup. It makes me feel like I’m back in the office setting and being intentional about that time to yourself during your lunch hour.
It’s so easy to slip into a sedentary lifestyle when working from home so take my warning - start working out now and you’ll thank me later.
Truth #4: You’ll battle with wanting to quit
At some point, you’re going to start questioning everything and if it’s even worth it anymore. The house, the job, the shifts you make throughout owning a business, your goals and your dreams. You’ll hit bottom points and wallow in your own tears wondering why the hell you’re doing what you’re doing.
Then you’ll get an email from someone, or read a blog post somewhere that inspires you and you’ll kick yourself for feeling like you aren’t cut out for this, because you are. This then leads me to my last truth about what it’s really like to work for yourself.
The biggest truth of all: It’s totally worth it. Yes, yes, it is. The harder days will soon teach you that it’s all meant to be and you are meant to do this.
It’s not glamorous, and you know it - but when your family and friends think that’s what it’s like, learn to be grateful for what you’ve built for yourself. Only you can ever truly know what it’s like to not only have dreams, but to pursue them with all you’ve got.
I think what makes me the most sad is to see so many people not achieving their own goals because of all the lies they tell themselves along the way. The only thing standing in the way of your success is in fact, you. And you, my friend - are totally capable of achieving all the things you wish for in your life, you just have to be willing to try.
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Emma Rose is a Squarespace website designer and photographer based out of the Pacific Northwest. She helps photographers not only stand out online, but dig deep to find the why in what they do. She strives to work with like-minded entrepreneurs who want to grow an audience, start and thrive their online business and change the freakin' world. She aims to help people create not only meaningful businesses but lives. For more about Emma, click here!
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