Make working from home work

After having my second child, I temporarily reduced my work hours by taking a sabbatical from my full time job to become a home-based consultant. In doing so, I joined a group of entrepreneurs that represents almost half of the nation’s businesses.

If you are interested in the benefits of self-employment, but are unsure where to begin, the volunteer counselors at SCORE suggest you sit down and conduct a probing interview with yourself to see if you’re the right person for job. Following are some suggested interview questions adapted from Score’s article titled 'Do You Have the Mindset and Skills to be an Entrepreneur?'

Are you a self starter? Nothing in business happens by itself. As the owner, you’re responsible for everything from establishing your firm’s vision to setting the daily work schedule.

Are you a positive thinker? The moment you become a business owner, you represent yourself, your business and your expectations for success. What you say and do must convey confidence and commitment to moving forward. When you work alone, there will be days when you have to be your own cheerleader.

Are you disciplined? Running a small business requires a continuous commitment to quality and detail. You cannot afford to cut corners, miss deadlines or make promises beyond your capabilities. If you work from home, you must be able to resist distractions in order to get your work done.

Are you a lifelong learner? Entrepreneurs who continually seek information, new ideas and sound advice have the best chance for success. Being attuned to market trends and issues makes it easier to adjust products and services to customers’ needs and preferences.

Are you a marketer? Some people have trouble with this one because of the negative (and often unfair) connotations associated with being a “salesperson.” No business, no matter how good, will succeed without some kind of marketing.

Can you be objective? Your ideas and practices may seem “bulletproof,” but reality may be far different. Is there really a need for a particular product or service in your area? A good business owner knows how to examine an issue from many perspectives and evaluate the strengths and limitations of each.

If you find that you are the right “candidate” for entrepreneur-owner-boss, your next step is to develop a plan. Your business plan should define your business and identify goals. When developing your plan, research laws that may impact your business. For starters, you must find out if you need a license or permit to operate your business. A good business plan also includes financial information such as a balance sheet and income statement. When working on your business’ financial plan, don’t forget to develop a method for managing your new personal financial situation—I plan to write more about this topic, so check back tomorrow.

Kim McGrigg is the former Manager of Community and Media Relations for MMI.

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