Finding The Way Home
It's very frustrating to receive an email from someone that
says, "I really need to work at home. Please help me."
It would be impossible for me to make any kind of
recommendation to this person. I receive emails just like this
so frequently that I've created a template of the response that
I send when I get one. In it, I tell them that I'd be happy to
make some suggestions, but need more to go on. Do you want to
start a business, or work for a company? What skills do you
have? What line of work are you in?
Sadly, the fact that a person would put so little effort into
making an inquiry like this tells me that they probably don't
have what it takes to work from home.
Whether running a business or telecommuting, working at home
takes tremendous discipline, self-motivation and creative
problem-solving skills. You don't have co-workers or your
supervisor down the hall, and often when problems arise you have
to deal with them on your own.
Don't get me wrong, I love to help people-- but I do expect
it to be a collaborative process. I also understand that
sometimes figuring out what it is you want to do can be a
So, what are some of the first steps you can take to find
your way? Here are some exercises that you can do that can help
to clarify your goals:
Consider the qualities below. Write down the ones that you
think describe you:
- Self-motivated - You know what needs to be done and
you don't need someone to direct you or follow up and check
your progress. You're not going to be distracted by today's
episode of The Bold and the Beautiful.
- Creative Problem-Solver - You love nothing more
than a challenge. You're able to find solutions and think
"outside the box".
- Excellent Communicator - You communicate
effectively, both in writing and verbally. It's especially
helpful if you are outgoing and enjoy talking to people.
- You're not afraid to work hard. You follow through
to make sure that things don't fall through the cracks.
These are all qualities that are pretty much imperative for a
would-be business owner. If you wrote down all four, you are
probably well-suited to running a home business.
If you wrote down three, telecommuting might be a more viable
option for you-- especially if the one you didn't write down was
Creative Problem-Solver. Communication skills and
self-motivation are especially important for the telecommuter.
If you wrote down only 1 or 2, you should really think about
whether your particular skills are going to fit with working
from home. Don't give up hope, though. Consider taking a course
that would help you in the area you feel you need the most
>>Take a Skill Inventory
Get out a pad of paper and a pen and start jotting down the
things that you feel you are good at and that you have
Next, make a list of the things that you really enjoy doing.
Don't worry about whether you think you could make money doing
them. Just make a list of all of the hobbies, tasks and various
things that you have fun doing. This should be really easy!
Think about the skills and how they relate to the things you
like to do. At this point, a picture should start emerging.
Maybe you are really good at working with kids and you're
super-organized and you also enjoy cooking and decorating....
How about starting a Party Planning business?
But what if the previous exercise determined that a
telecommute job was a better fit for you? Maybe joining one of
the party planning companies would be a better option for you
because of the support they offer.
>>Set Goals and Map Out a Path to Achieve Them
Once you've come up with a goal, be it a home business or a
telecommute job in your chosen field, you should map out a plan
of how to get there.
If you've chosen to start a home business, a business plan
should definitely be your first step. It helps to focus your
goals and gives you a plan that you can refer to to stay on
Finding a telecommute job takes planning as well. Once you've
decided what field you should pursue, you'll want to research
companies and compile a list of the top 10 or more that you'd
like to work for. Your research might include the financial
performance, company culture, benefits and employee
Once identified, you should try to obtain the name of the
person who does the hiring and send a resume with a personalized
cover letter addressed to them. Also, mention the company name
and say what attracted you to their company. For example, "Your
Company's solid financial performance over the past 3 years is
very impressive" or "Your Company's commitment to community
services makes it the type of organization that I would be proud
to work with". You don't want to put something like, "I want to
work for your company because you allow telecommuting".
Remember that many companies that allow telecommuting only
allow it after a certain period of time, or for only a certain
portion of your work-week. Don't be so locked into the idea of
landing a full telecommute position that you overlook the
potential telecommute job in the long run.
Similarly, starting a business requires time, money and
tremendous dedication. You may not be in a position to quit your
job and start a business. You might have to burn the midnight
oil to get something started while continuing to work.
Finding your way to working at home takes planning,
creativity and some serious soul-searching. But once you map out
your goals, you'll find that the path becomes much clearer and
you have a much better chance at success.
Sharon Davis, Work-At-Home expert, author and consultant,
helps people to achieve their goal of working at home,
telecommuting or starting a home business.