I remember when I started my first full time business back in 2000. I say first full time business as I had been running little side projects most of my teenage years and in to my early 20s while still working full time. At one point I had a full time job, two part time jobs and a tidy little graphic design side business.
I had just lost my job in the great 2000 dotcom bust and I had $824 as severance pay from the company where I had been working. I decided it was time to ‘go out on my own’ and work for myself.
I lived in a 3 bedroom townhouse in Penrith, and with no kids, I was able to turn one of those rooms into an office.
Day 1, I went and bought a desk and a new computer and got set up. Day 2, I started knocking on doors and trying to find work. After a morning of prospecting, I had found my first lead, and the customer was coming over that afternoon to talk about his website.
It was just before the Olympics, and the guy I was speaking to wanted to create a logo and a website for a new business called OnTheArena.com – it was all about equestrian and horse eventing.
I took the job and promised him I would have it done by Friday, that was on a Wednesday afternoon. I literally worked from Wednesday evening until Friday morning to get the job done – no sleep at all until l was finished. That might sound crazy, but I just thought that doing a good job would maybe lead to more work, I had no idea who this new found customer was at the time.
As it turned out he was involved in the sports and celebrity management industry, and was an entrepreneur with a great deal of connections. That one mammoth effort lead to over $500,000 over the more than 10 years I did work for his organisations.
Working for myself has been one of the most rewarding decisions I have ever made in my career – and it all started with a little office at home.
Here are the top 5 things I learnt about working from home in the first 6 months of my business.
1) You never know who you are working for – referrals were the source of my success in business. Do the best possible job for everyone as you never know what it will lead to.
2) Be prepared to work harder than a job. Working from home is not 9-5, you may need to do crazy things like work all night, but being the boss, you can make a decision to take the middle of the day off to get a massage.
3) Go to work. A lot of people sit around in their PJs all day – because they can. I had a routine of getting up and showered and having breakfast, then went to work. I stuck to a routine, and I never lost days sitting on the couch watching Oprah.
4) Make a dedicated space. It is hard to work from home if you are sitting in the corner of your dining room, particularly if you have kids. Try and make a dedicated space that works for you.
5) Find a support network. Joining a networking group was the best thing I did to combat the isolation you can sometimes feel working on your own. Being able to get out once a week and meet and network with people was a great way to win business and to just have a change of scenery.