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.

  • The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is an association of nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. Today, nearly 300 of these groups participate in the federation and govern it through their representatives on the organization's Board of Directors.
  • The National Council of Higher Education Resources (NCHER) is the nation’s oldest and largest higher education finance trade association. NCHER’s membership includes state, nonprofit, and for-profit higher education service organizations, including lenders, servicers, guaranty agencies, collection agencies, financial literacy providers, and schools, interested and involved in increasing college access and success. It assists its members in shaping policies governing federal and private student loan and state grant programs on behalf of students, parents, borrowers, and families.

  • Since 2007, the Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF) has served as a trusted, neutral source of information for more than eight million homeowners. They are partnered with, and endorsed by, numerous major government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of the Treasury.

  • The mission of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD works to strengthen the housing market in order to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; and build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.

  • The Council on Accreditation (COA) is an international, independent, nonprofit, human service accrediting organization. Their mission is to partner with human service organizations worldwide to improve service delivery outcomes by developing, applying, and promoting accreditation standards.

  • The National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®), founded in 1951, is the nation’s largest and longest-serving nonprofit financial counseling organization. The NFCC’s mission is to promote the national agenda for financially responsible behavior, and build capacity for its members to deliver the highest-quality financial education and counseling services.