It’s one of the biggest challenges that you face after having children – the crippling decision over whether or not to return to work. For many there is no choice in the matter, with the family unable to survive without their income.
For others, there is a careful balancing act of income vs childcare costs to check that a return to work is financially viable. In recent years, the stay at home mum has become far less commonplace, with a recent article from the Daily Mail stating that there are 1million less stay at home mums now than there were 24 years ago (a huge drop when you take into account the population growth in this time).
It is no wonder then that so many people are abandoning traditional office based roles in favour of flexible home working, hoping to gain the best of both worlds.
There are a number of ways that this can be made to work for your particular situation, with a huge array of job options out there, but in order to achieve this perfect work/life balance, there are a few key steps to take which will make the process as smooth as possible.
Planning your work space
Making sure that you have a set space in which to complete your work will be really beneficial to your productivity. This doesn’t mean that you need a big office space or even a purpose built desk, but you should ensure that the area you intend to work from is as free from clutter and distractions as possible. This means that the TV should remain turned off and you should try to work in at least a semi-formal environment – slouching on the sofa may make the temptation to grab some much needed sleep far too tempting!
Childcare – even though you’re at home
Although it may seem crazy to have to pay for childcare when you are in the house, this one is absolutely vital. If you try to look after children while completing work you will find that you do both jobs half-heartedly. The consequence of this can be extreme guilt – that you’re not there for your children and that you’re not getting the work done that you need to. So eliminate this problem before it begins by setting some strict ground rules – although you are at home, you are working, and not available for every little issue.
One of the absolute keys to making sure your business is a success is ensuring that you have carefully mapped out your planned expenses and income. You shouldn’t expect your business to be turning a profit in the first year, as you plough budget into getting it off the ground, but by year two you should be aiming to turn a small profit. If the sums are likely to give you a headache, it could be worth speaking to an experienced accountant to get your business budget firmed up, so that you know you are setting out with a clear plan of action. It is also worth spending some time researching how best to finance your start-up, whether that is going to be through the traditional route of a bank loan or something a bit more creative.
Plan your business
This applies both to your long term ambitions for your new home business and to your idea of what your day-to-day working life will look like. To tackle the first point, make sure you have done plenty of research into what you want your business model to be, who your target market are and what growth you would like to see over the next few years. Equally, on a smaller scale, make sure to set yourself up with a rough idea of what each working day will look like – if you will be fitting your working day around the school drop off and pick up for example. Be realistic about how much work you will be able to achieve when the children are at home and no alternative childcare is available.
Make sure you’re insured
When many people set up their own home business it doesn’t even occur to them that they would be breaching the terms of their home insurance. Running any sort of business from home is likely to invalidate many basic home insurance policies but luckily there is a solution. With so many people now choosing to be their own boss and run a flexible business from home, there is a good selection of specialist non-standard insurers that will be able to cover you. Having the correct insurance in place is vital to ensure that any future claim you make will be honored and to give you peace of mind.