To home work or not to?

This is an interesting dilemma for millions of freelancers. There are obvious attractions to working from home when you are a freelancer, especially in the early days of setting up, as costs are often an issue.

Home worker

People see the costs savings of not having to commute, not having to buy lunches, not paying for space and generally the time savings too.

They initially view working from home to be distraction free, especially attractive if you’ve just left the open plan office of your previous paid employment job.

You also feel that you will be happier at home, as you can enjoy a work/life balance, that previously you could only dream of with the ‘7am to 7pm’ life of working for someone else.

However, after a while, what happens is, you realise that you get increasingly lonely working at home, you start to crave those ‘distractions’ of others. You come to the conclusion that some of those distractions were in fact valuable interactions.

You miss the knowledge sharing, the boost to morale of having someone to share things with, especially important when things are going less well. After all, we are all going to have crap days.

The next thing, you find is that the motivation starts to drop, as you ease into a blurred work/life environment. There are often distractions in an office, but there are different ones at home.

Like partners, children, pets, Jeremy Kyle, Playstation (maybe this just me), shops, washing to hang out, dinner to put on, ironing etc etc. OK, so we will have varying degrees of self-discipline, but you will get distracted.

Cabin fever sets in and that’s when it is time to get out the house and seek people. Although often people think that the solution is to head to a coffee shop.

The challenge with working in a coffee shop is that they are noisy and the wrong sort of nosiy – music, kids etc. Then typically the Wi-Fi is poor, you feel guilty that you haven’t bought a coffee for at least an hour, there is still no chance of any meaningful conversation and of course you will have to take your laptop to the toilet. When you come back your seat will be gone.

Until more recently the next option was very often a serviced office, which for most freelancers was a cost and commitment too far.

Now there are options – coworking spaces have sprung up all over world and are opening at a rapid rate as the rise globally in self-employment continues to grow off the charts.

What coworking offers, if you find the right one, is a flexible workspace, so you can still enjoy the good elements of home working. It will provide you with a community, something to belong to and that for me is the biggest benefit of coworking over full time home working.

As a freelancer, who has left the world of paid employment for the freedom of self-employment, you have closed the door on your support system, the community of colleagues and that leaves you on your own, no longer belonging.

What coworking provides is others to share ideas, share knowledge, help you and to do business with. It is the serendipity of those chance meetings, that will lead eventually to opportunity to grow your business, that you will never get being at home.

The other advantages of coworking spaces is they often run workshops, events, business networking groups. They can provide you access to mastermind groups and mentoring. So a chance to grow your network beyond the coworking space regulars and get invaluable advice for you and your business.

At the end of the day businesses, especially solo-preneurs, are all better of working and collaborating with others than they are trying to ‘row their own boat’.

Human beings are designed to be social and to work together and not be on their own.

This is what is critical in coworking – collaboration. Your products/service etc will be greatly enhanced by working with others. You will also increase your reach and customer base by sharing and working with others.

So the answer to the question ‘To home work or not to?’ is – not to home work all day every day, as you risk isolation and missing opportunities to grow you and your business.

Be yourself and be grateful for what you have

I have read two amazing pieces written by two people who I count myself lucky to know and while the original connecting was through business networking, it has developed into friendship, which is how it should be.

People from the old school world, that I am passionate about changing, are always rabbiting on about being professional. That word always genuinely makes me laugh-out-loud. Essentially you are always told not to mix personal and business.

Thankfully, the world is changing, more and more people are realising that work/business/life is all the same thing and there is no need to have these different personas for each.

My mate Brad sums it up perfectly, he rightly says ‘be 100% yourself, 100% of the time’ and that is absolutely spot on.

In my business, I want customers, partners, suppliers etc. to be people who like me for who I am and want to do business with me, because they like my values and how I am.

Equally I want friends, who are my friends because they accept the real me, not some image or face I put on for friends, then a different one for work and then another one for home.

What a palaver, just be who are really are and who you really want to be. That brings me back to the posts.

So the first one is by Dee, who I have got to know through networking and now I count her as a friend, in fact someone who I completely trust and know that she wouldn’t let me down and would help if she could. That’s if she is not admitted herself into some NHS establishment, that sounds like she’s mad, but that is really not the case.

So the link below is a link to her blog ‘Hindsight is a wonderful thing’

Dee Atkins

This is one of the bravest posts that I read and it shows that Dee is prepared to show her vulnerability. It also shows us some really valuable insights and lessons that we can all learn from.

Vulnerability is something that we are all taught from a very early age, by parents, school and more laterly by society in general, that we shouldn’t show it. I am not talking about the very manipulative and cynical celeberity vulnerability, where they breakdown and share inner secrets with a select 100 million viewers.

It is good to be vulnerable, as it shows that you are prepared to step into the ‘ring’ and take on the fight, not sit in the sidelines criticising and moaning.

The haters in the world never step into the ring, they never take on their demons, opponents, they never dare to be great. It is not the critic that counts as Theodore Roosevelt said:

β€œIt is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

There is an absolutely brilliant book written by Brene Brown called ‘Daring Greatly’ that really covers this much more eloquently and in greater detail, written by a person who has spent years on this.

Society in general is all about fear, scarcity and shaming people. This is why we are all fearful of letting the shield down ,frightened to dare to be our real selves. Dee has demonstrated that she is prepared to step into that ring and dare to be great.

The second piece, written by Richard, the Appman and the Power of Cat Flap no sorry Flat Cap (in joke sorry), another friend who was originally a business connection via social media and then networking.

This piece is equally as powerful as Dee’s and equally as inspirational. Richard’s piece is inspired by a sudden personal tragedy and one which many have to face.

However, Richard has faced this in a very positive way and has again dared to be great and approach it differntly to how many of us might.

So here is a link to Richard’s post ‘Your whole life can change in an instant’

The thing for me that stands out from Richard’s post is that he has really put into perspective what is really important in life and that it is the people, something that i write about a lot and has become a real passion of mine.

None of us know what is around the corner in our life, not just with our own lives, but with the ones that we love. After reading Richard’s post today, I phoned my Mum, I told my wife & kids that I loved them and counted myself as blessed for what I have.

We need to live a life of being grateful, appreciative of what we have and I don’t mean the shallow things like possessions or money. I mean grateful for the people who matter in our lives, as we never know when that is going to change.

So the message I get from Dee is don’t be afraid to be or become the real you and from Richard, to appreciate what really matters in life.

Those two things, if you conquer them and live by them, are all that matters. Then you can reflect that you have been a success.