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8 Challenges For A Home Based Business

1. Not being taken seriously.

A common concern of most home-based photographers is whether their customers will consider their business a real one, rather than just a hobby that they are making a bit of money from. They think that their customers may feel that the business is not legitimate.

Home businesses are generally seen as part time concerns, and therefore their professional image and credibility suffers. They are not taken seriously!  Although this perception exists, the business owner should do everything that they can to change this. This can be done by presenting a strong professional business image, not only in the physical appearance of the home, but more importantly in the way that the business is conducted. The way that you treat the customer, together with strong branding, advertising, and business practices, will go a long way to justifying working from home. Your own mindset is also paramount in having a strong profitable photography business.

2. Separating work and family life.

When a photographer makes a decision to work from home they feel that one of the advantages is that they can be there for the kids, but this can be an enormous disadvantage as well. The daily household chores, picking up and dropping off kids, and working around sleep times of smaller children can be a great source of distraction in running your business.

As everyone knows, there is always something to do around the home, especially when you have kids. It is very hard to talk professionally to a customer over the phone, with a two year old screaming in the background, or trying to photograph someone else’s children, while yours are fighting in the other room. Handling two or more different roles under the one roof can create challenges and difficulties, as you juggle the demands of both your home and your business.

3. Lack of space.

The setting-up of a home business is made easier if you have a large house, and you can separate spaces for the business. Lack of space can be a concern if you are living in a small house or an apartment.

Compromising some of your family space can be quite confronting, but this is a trade-off that you may sometimes have to accept. A separate entrance for the business would be ideal, and just thinking through the problem and discussing it with someone outside of the immediate business can often bring a solution.

4. Working too much or procrastinating.

When working from home, there is always the constant temptation to work long hours. You shouldn’t feel guilty if you check and answer emails in the evening when the kids are in bed. If you are passionate about your photography business and are constantly working on growing your business, you should work hard. Only if working too much intrudes on and effects your family life negatively, should you re-evaluate your work ethic.

The opposite of working too much, is procrastinating on work related tasks.

There is an unlimited amount of things that you could do around the home instead of doing work related things. Failure to keep up with your work-load could amplify and create a massive problem in a very short space of time.

Another potential problem is spending too much time on tasks which you enjoy and may not be generating income and neglecting the tasks you don’t.

5. Lack of privacy.

Even if you have your own private business space in your home, privacy and security is always a concern. You also need to keep the whole house tidy, just in case the customer has to walk through your house to go to the toilet.

Some customers can be annoying if they knock on your door at all hours of the day and night. You must make it clear to your customers that you work strictly by appointment, and are not available at other times. Your customers will appreciate your professionalism in this regard.

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6. Strain on family relationships.

Be sure that your family understands what it takes to operate a home business. Talk to your husband or wife and ask for their support, and explain to the children your need to be given time to work for the business.

Some members of your family may resent the fact that while you stay in the house for most of the day, your attention is not focused on them. However, be sure also to know when to stop working for your business and start living as part of the family. Your family and kids need your attention, and of course housework, friends, and even pets, can demand your attention at different times. Working at home can be very hard if you have a newborn baby or three or four small children who always demand your full and complete attention.

7. You can feel isolated.

If you are the sole worker in your home business, you may feel isolated and often lonely. It can be a confronting and solitary existence, when you are dealing with customers, phone calls, emails, and the photography, without having someone to share your experiences, or ask advice. The isolation can become quite intense, especially if you have a naturally outgoing personality.

Self -discipline can become hard with no one looking over your shoulder. Failing to maintain a tight time management regime, and not being able to control and handle your feeling of isolation, will make it very hard to achieve success in your business.

8. Lack of experience

When a photographer commits to working from home in the hope of making some money from their passion, the one thing they lack is the knowledge and experience of how to control and maximize the way in which they conduct their business. Many of these photographers may be like yourself, a mother/father and wife/husband first, and a business person second. Taking that transition in becoming a business person may be difficult to handle, if you have not had any training in setting up and running a business.

Experience of course can only come with time. Time will allow you to learn. The question of course, is whether the things that you learn are the most effective and profitable way of going about it.

Attending seminars and workshops held by other photographers may motivate you and help you take better photographs, but may not give you the individual and specific answers to your particular circumstances. I’ve attended heaps of seminars and workshops, and what I found was that they gave me short-term inspiration, but did not put any money into the bank. Only practical advice from and experienced and readily available mentor or consultant can achieve this.

Every photographer working from home has their own individual and personal challenges. These challenges need to be addressed individually with their own unique circumstances taken into consideration.

Solving the problems

So what’s the secret to growing your photography business despite the tough economy, and the challenges of working from home?

Any business whether large or small, is mainly about solving day to day problems. Getting more customers, increasing sales, lowering overheads, staff relationships, and maximizing the efficiency of work spaces, are all focused on to improve profitability. A micro business that is operated from home by a single person has the same issues to resolve. What you may need is a viable and long term business model.

You need to develop business systems which cost very little time, money and energy, together with sourcing help and guidance in integrating them into your business. In other words a business model that puts money into your account regularly year after year.

I have consulted with many photography businesses over many years, and have seen the effects of the pressure that it can have. I have seen marriages break down, uncontrolled debt, and legal proceedings, all happen with bad business practices.

Getting a good Business Coach can keep you focused and alleviate a lot of the problems that you may come up against.

For further Photography Business Coaching information …bernie@aswpp.com.au

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