Hosting Now Only $3.95?!?!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Working From Home - When Home is Anything but Stable

The beauty -- and possibly the destruction for many well-meaning home-based businesses -- is being home. Yet, one thing we've never discussed, nor had reason to discuss here, is when home is not defined in the traditional way.

Most people, especially those running a business from home, have a (meaning ONE) place they call home. A few may have two, including a main home base; a couple of business owners may be lucky enough to have two places they equally call home. But what about those people who do not have a certain place, are unsure of where they live, or are moving around a lot due to different circumstances (think finances, domestic violence, being a secret and unreported CIA spy, having seven kids and having to live between them, etc.)?

By a show of "hands," how many have a unique one-home-business-does-not-fit-all (please do share your circumstance in the comments or a private email, we'd love to touch base and write an article based on unique business successes and struggles)?

Earn Money from Home in 101 Weird Ways
Add caption

For me, personally, the past six-seven years went nothing like it should have. Where I should have felt support and stability, I felt everything but. I've had to not only rearrange my home and life many times, but I've had to reorganize my businesses, even when they were getting to be back on top after being MIA for several years due to another unusual home-business situation (okay, the common denominator is me, but that's beside the point of this article; let's not go there).

I've ended up having several homes, some very temporary (a month and a half at the shortest) and for the third time in my life, I've lost nearly everything, including a lot of my work, which could have been the cause of me being unable to continue working and writing from home (not including the self-paralysis from the personal and emotional aspects of it all) or giving up.

Except that's not me and I suspect that's not you, either. What do we do? How do you run a business from home if you don't have a home or if your home is temporary or completely unstable?

Running a Stable Small Business from an Unstable Home

Let's make this easy and assume you already have been running your business, whether it's MLM, freelance, merchandising, or even babysitting (legally) from your home.

Two of the most important things to keeping and running your business properly: files and calendars. Don't worry, there's a lot more, but these are two things you MUST have and you must bring back and forth to wherever you conduct business. These are things you cannot lose.

If you're like me, you love paper. Tough. You cannot afford paper files that you must lug around or that can be lost if you're unable to get your belongings from one of your home bases. I've lost them all. And I am still suffering-but wouldn't be had I used electronic files (scanning) and calendars in addition to the paper I refused to give up.

There is enough personal paper you'll have to keep (legal documents, SS information, etc.).

Convert Paper Files to Electronic Files (in Five Minutes a Day)

That's right. CONVERT. See all that paper you've collected? If not, perhaps you've hidden it in closets or boxes, but I know you know what I'm talking about.

The first thing you need to do to make your home situation easier for you and your business is to convert all your paper files into electronic files (scanning); the second thing to do is to make back-ups of these files.

Might we suggest Google Drive? It's free, it's right there, and you can get to your files on your phone in an instant if you are caught without your computer.

  1. You can store up to 15 GB of content shared between Google Drive, Gmail, and Google+ Photos for free. If you use Google Apps at work or school, you have at least 30 GB of storage. If you're approaching your limit or if you've run out of storage, you can buy storage or free up storage space. Manage your free Google Drive space.
If you have hundreds of thousands of papers, take it easy, you can still manage this, using five minutes a day. Scan, upload, repeat. Sure, it'll take a while, but at least you can access what you need when you want. 

Please! Do yourself a favor-rather than scanning and uploading as fast as possible, thousands in a day, do it right the first time. Scan, label, and sort your files now. Do it as you hold it in your hand. This way you can cross reference, find in an instant, and you'll be less stressed when you can access exactly what you need exactly when you need it.

Upload those papers and throw them away after you've made your backup, on a separate hard drive, disk, or flash drive. 

Keep your most important papers in a heavy duty plastic sleeveIf your electronically converted papers are needed occasionally, put in safe bins and store where you can. I've lost even these backups twice in my lifetime, and you learn to deal, as you would if your business had been destroyed in a fire, but it's far from ideal). The most important papers, put in an organized accordion file. Why this type of file? Because we are talking about nearly mobile paperwork and it's far easier to carry and pack a light file than a file box; furthermore, you tend to only include what's really important in this file due to space limitations. Trust me. 

As for the fifty or so papers you absolutely have to keep-use a single sleeve heavy duty plastic see-through file. Heavy duty to ensure it's protected, plastic to keep relatively water-proof, and see-through so there is no confusing the importance.

Calendaring Your Business and Life

There's no confusing the importance of a well-maintained calendar, whether you combine business with personal or not. But if you have one on your wall and your wall is suddenly not there, for whatever reason, you may not be able to take it with you. 

One idea is to have a paper calendar that you carry with you everywhere. A good idea technically, however, if you have to suddenly move and move everything, it's suddenly one more thing you have to carry. Think about it.

Being an Apple Girl both personally and in my business world and a lover of all things paper, I must have both a large-sized wall calendar and an iCal account to use across my electronics, but there's also the Google Calendar and plenty of other free electronic calendars with apps available (I won't list any others here, as I've not tried any of them). Learn to use them. There is no end to the usefulness of a calendar you can access from anywhere at anytime. 

My electronic calendar needs to be able to sync effortlessly between my phone and computer and anyone else who needs to have access to it. I also must have constant reminders attached-I use instant notifications and reminder emails. You may have other needs. Research. Experiment. Be willing to try and quit and try another.

Pretend Electronic PAPER Calendar (Works for Me!)

BUT as I mentioned, I love and NEED that paper calendar. I need something that is staring me in the face, not just something that reminds me when it's time for something or that I must open when I need it.

The perfect solution takes less than one minute a day - when you leave for the day, simply snap a picture of your paper wall calendar and refer to it as needed. I find just from looking at it and having written it down with pen and paper the first time, I rarely need to pull out my snapshots, but at least it's available for no-fail added appointments.

Stability in Your Unstable World

These are just two ideas to help ease your burdens when your world sometimes feels as though it's falling apart, but there's no need for your business to fall, too. It's all temporary and it's up to you. 

Whether you move personally and professionally (we ARE talking about small home businesses here) on purpose or at the drop of the proverbial hat with no warning, having your important papers at your fingertips in a manageable file and your calendar of events handy is of utmost importance. Not only will you be able to continue to succeed and support yourself and your business, but you will have peace of mind and that's priceless.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please keep your words friendly and constructive. No cursing or bashing allowed, EVER!