Working at Home: Is it Right for You?
By Jonni McCoy

Some supporters of working at home say it's a great way to supplement family income and be with their kids at the same time. Others have found it difficult to balance work and home responsibilities. Which category do you fit in? In order to answer that question, read on.

Before starting a home business, there are a few things you need to consider. For example, make sure you know how many hours you could devote to a job within your home.

With some types of home businesses, its hard to be specific about how much time you'll need. These businesses are "job specific," which means that the employer wants a specific job to be done by a specific time. He or she can't tell you how much time will be required. This is often the case with word processing, transcriptions, manual editing, and so forth. If you're considering this type of job, be honest with yourself about how much actual free time you have each day.

Carefully evaluate the work and make an honest assessment of your work speed. Make sure you allow for the last-minute changes that come with this type of work. When assessing your ability to work at home, make sure the attention you can give to your job is undivided attention. Often, people who are home with small children are bored. As a result, they believe they have time available for productive work. In reality, they usually have just a few minutes here and there.

I remember taking on work at home when my children were small. I ended up starting the work after everyone was in bed and continuing into the night. That was the only time I could concentrate on my work without interruptions. Of course, you could start a home business and tell your children to leave you alone. But wouldn't that defeat your purpose for being a stay-at-home parent?

If you find that you can give a job undivided attention, the next step is to determine the expenses it involves. Is there any equipment necessary to do the work? If the job is editing or word processing, do you have the same type of computer and software that your prospective employer uses?

Are there weekly meetings that this employer wants you to attend? Do you have reliable child care for those meetings? Will you need any special training in order to do the job? Who will pay for the training and your child care during that time? Will you need office supplies?

In addition, will the profit (after taxes) justify these expenses? Understanding the tax requirements that working will bring is essential. Most likely you will be an independent contractor rather than an employee. Self-employment brings an extra tax that you will have to pay when you file taxes. Allow for this expense. You may also need to file estimated taxes throughout the year for the extra income not included in your W2s.

If working at home still sounds good to you, choosing a career is all that's left. Some ideas for jobs include word processing, cake decorating, calligraphy, sales of home products, answering service, aerobics instructor, accountant/bookkeeper, mystery shopper, catering, antique repair, baby gift baskets, balloon delivery, and hair stylist.

Places to find these jobs vary. Start by checking employment in local newspapers or looking for job notices posted in stores. Create a flier for yourself and your business and deliver it to the companies that could use your services.

One last thing to consider is support. Getting support while working at home is helpful, since you may feel lonely. Support groups exist for work-at-home moms (WAHM). They provide tips for making home businesses work, and they also offer a forum for your questions.

I hope it "works" for you!

The contents of this article are copyrighted by Jonni McCoy 2009,

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