One of my biggest concerns when I was first starting out was the fact that I really didn’t have the capital or resources to go out and immediately open an office. I had a decent base of people I’d done work for who were regularly sending referrals – so getting started from that standpoint wasn’t an issue. But I had serious doubts and reservations over the fact that I worked out of my home and the practice of meeting prospective clients at coffee shops and the like seemed like a deterrent to credibility.
Turned out I was really, really wrong about this.
Image Source: Carlos Porto / FreeDigitalPhotos.net (No, this is not to imply working from home is an excuse to drink on the job)
The biggest hangup I had was that I was afraid that people would be apprehensive about being confident in the abilities and reliability of someone who doesn’t even have an office of his own. This was influenced by having worked regularly in Mindscape’s office, which has a ‘wow’ factor like no other as soon as you get off the elevator. Any inclinations that they might not be the real deal are immediately forgotten the very moment you see the spacious, colorful inviting atmosphere that is obviously the fruits of years of successful service and dedication. Without such digs though, how could anyone take me seriously?
Over the past 2+ years, I’ve learned a lot about business, perceptions and life in general. While I’ve since learned that my fears were completely unfounded, I was recently asked a similar question and it got me thinking that maybe there are a lot of people with similar concerns. Here are a few reasons why working from home is not only not a deterrent to credibility – it can actually bolster confidence with your prospective clients.
When you work from home, and clients know where you live (because that’s where they send the checks), in reality this serves as a confidence booster for a couple reasons. One, a person who works from home is more likely to deliver than someone who works out of some fly-by-night office. There are tons of extremely low cost office spaces around here and in most major cities. These offices are single occupancy rooms usually on month-to-month leases.
While the fact that a freelancer or industry professional who works out of a small office doesn’t automatically imply that they are not trustworthy, it is much easier to have confidence in the fact that you know where to find the person you’re doing business with. A small office can be abandoned by a shady individual at a moments notice, and finding the person who burned you would likely require more effort than it’d be worth.
Another advantage of working out of the home is that it allows you to keep operating costs down. Without the expenses of office space, utilities, parking, etc., I am able to keep my rates at a level that is affordable to a wider group of prospective clients.
As business grows, employees need to be hired and working out of my home will become less and less feasible. Rates and fees will need to be increased to cover the expanding cost of doing business. This is just a reality that every business owner faces – and in honesty it is a good problem to have. It is certainly better than the alternative.
So if you’re considering opening a home-based business – don’t worry. And you might just be surprised when you realize that many of your clients are working out of their homes too
If you’re a business owner, I’d love to hear your perspective on this. Have you hired a freelancer who worked from their home before? How did it work out? Please share your thoughts in a comment below!
One of the things I am asked the most is how I got into this line of work. While most of the story is illustrated on my ‘about‘ page, one of the things I don’t really get to talk about is why I do web marketing for a living.
I began working independently about two years ago, when I saw the opportunities that were out there to help a variety of small business that clearly needed assistance with their web presence but weren’t necessarily in a position to invest thousands of dollars in the services of an agency. Since then, I’ve had the privilege of working with owners of local restaurants, auto repair shops, a wedding dress designer, medical professionals, several PR and Social Media people, various e-commerce site owners, a manufacturer of custom electrical components, and too many others to list.
While I still enjoy and do occasionally take on projects for larger agencies like Mindscape – which is how I got my start – working with smaller type businesses carries a sense of purpose that is difficult to put into words. For this reason, I wanted to share a card (along with a nice giftcard to Outback Steakhouse ) that I received out of the blue last November from the owners of West Michigan Transmissions, a transmission repair and auto repair shop in Grand Rapids, MI. Mike and Leslie have been clients since last April or so.
The text reads: “Thanks Mike – For all your efforts and advice you have provided us in mentoring our web related <and then some!> issues. I want you to know that it hasn’t gone unnoticed and is deeply appreciated. Enjoy dinner w/ the fam on us. –Leslie and Michael
While the sentiment is very much appreciated, it also serves as a reminder to myself as to why I do what I do. It isn’t for the money or even for the freedom of operating a home-based business – it’s for the fact that I get to work with businesses large and small knowing that my services will leave their web presence much stronger and robust than before they hired me.
The occasional steak dinner is a nice bonus though