How to Formulate a Realistic Plan to Work From Home

As rising gas prices loom on the horizon, working from home is becoming a popular alternative to commuting. The advent of the uber-convenient World Wide Web makes it possible to run a global business right from your living room. But remember that working from home also means living at work! Here are some tips for successfully joining the two.

Start by calculating your projected weekly income. Many work-from-home jobs are not paid by the hour – they're paid by volume of production. This makes budgeting tricky. A little simple math will help you come up with a time / money ratio you can use.

There are two ways to figure this out:

1) time your production to calculate your hourly wage, then multiply that by the number of hours you work per week, or
2) multiply your profit per piece by how many pieces you produce in a week. Compare this figure with your weekly or monthly expenses so you'll have a baseline of what you need to accomplish on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.

Be honest with yourself about what you can / will produce, and plan for a healthy balance of work and rest. Sure you could work 16 hours a day, but how would that affect your health and personal life? On the other hand, if you are frequently distracted, you may find it difficult to maintain your income goals. Organization and time management skills are key.

Be sure your home can provide for the demands of your business. Many work-at-home positions require a high-speed Internet connection, and a separate phone line with fax and voicemail service may also be desirable, especially if one does business in other time zones. Note that your home workspace must be dedicated exclusively to your business in order to claim it as a tax deduction.

Anticipate how bringing your work into your home will affect your family, neighbors, and clientele. Does it generate noise, odor, waste, traffic? Familiarize yourself with local zoning laws and noise ordinances, as well as any applicable terms of your lease if you rent. And be sure to check with your home owner's or renter's insurance carrier to be sure that your assets are covered!

Are you tech-savvy? You do not have to be an MIT grad – you can hire folks to do the hard stuff for you – but a working knowledge will save you a lot, in more ways than one: headaches, time, and money. If you will be working with any kind of sensitive information, it's crucial to keep it secure, for your clients' well-being as well as your own.

The key to success in working from home is taking responsibility for yourself. You must be able to come up with a plan and stick to it. Be accountable to yourself and you'll be great at being your own boss!