5 Challenges to Anticipate in Home Businesses

Tips to Overcoming Common Work-At-Home Challenges

home office distractions
Don't let work-at-home distractions get in the way of your home business success. Credit: Lewis Mulatero / Contributor : Getty Images

Studies suggest that working from home can lead to increased productivity, but that doesn’t mean it’s always a good thing or that it doesn’t have drawbacks. If you want to be successful working from home in a home business, you need to be aware of and compensate for potential challenges you may face.

1. Distractions

No matter how disciplined you are, it’s impossible not to experience distractions as you adjust to working from home.

If you have small children, you’ll be interrupted by their needs. You might have a TV on as background noise, or be tempted by the persistent allure of the kitchen pantry. It’s hard to compensate for distractions, but there are a few steps you can take to mitigate its impact.

First, establish a designated work area, isolated as much as possible, and with few distractions. This not only creates physical work cues, but helps meet the IRS’s requirement for a designated space for the home office deduction. Second, schedule your hours creating a distinction between working and off hours. Third, tell all your family and friends about your schedule, so they’re less likely to interrupt you. They can also hold you accountable when they see you’re not working when you’re supposed to be.

2. Loss of Social Interaction

Eliminating the need to work with annoying colleagues can be one perk to starting a home business.

Even so, there is a social aspect in the traditional work environment that you’ll lose that when you start working at home. Coworkers offer the benefits of holding you accountable, offering feedback and support, and social interaction. Without them, you’ll may start to feel lonely and isolated, which can make it more difficult to work.

There are several solutions you can try if you’re feeling alone. One is to work in a coffee shop, co-opted space, or other environment where other people congregate. Another options is to engage with people online. You can connect with former coworkers or with others who work at home through chat and social media. Both these options increase the chance of distraction, but do offer you the ability to feel connected and engaged with others.

3. Face-to-face conversations are harder to conduct.

In many cases, face-to-face interaction is more efficient and more rewarding than any other means of connecting with business prospects. This is especially true for first-time client meetings, where initial impressions are vital to starting a successful relationship. There are online options for face-to-face conversation, such as video conferencing, but these tend to be limited in functionality, and often stifle non-verbal communication cues. There’s no easy way to compensate for this other than opting for in-person meetings in public locations. Across distances, your only option is to make better use of the communications channels available to you, such as video conferences.

4. Work Is Judged Solely on Results

This may seem obvious, but in a conventional office, your work is judged on a combination of factors, including your disposition, punctuality, participation in meetings, and even your style of dress. Working remotely, your work is judged solely on results. It could be argued that all work should be judged this way; however, in the traditional work world it’s not. When working from home, it can be a major change to discover that simply putting in the hours at your desk isn’t enough. You need to have quality output above all else.

5. Lines between personal and professional blur.

A healthy life requires balance between professional and personal responsibilities. Working from home often blurs that line in ways you may not have anticipated. For example, you may find yourself waking up early to work, getting distracted by personal responsibilities throughout the day, and, as a result, having to work late at night.

When you’re taking a break or when your work is done for the day, you may still feel like you’re “at work” because you continue to think about it, or your office is in a common living area giving you constant reminders. You may also find yourself more distracted by work when you’re trying to enjoy personal time or sleeping.

There’s no easy way to compensate for this, except by creating firm boundaries, setting up an office, having a set schedule, and following a routine.

These challenges are just that—challenges. They don’t stop you from finding success in home business. They can be overcome if you anticipate and compensate for them.