Years…nay, decades ago, I was given two pieces of advice that eventually I followed. The first is that most small businesses start after someone loses their full-time job. The second is that in the difficult times you survive, so that in the good times you can thrive. In today’s world of the Covid-19 virus most people find theirselves in a precarious position in that our lives are no longer unique. Most people are abiding by the same rules – stay home, wash your hands, don’t come into contact with others, and re-learn how to live with your family. While a small percentage of people must still go into the office, others must work from home (or try to), and still others must just wait. The point is that this is your time to transition your passion into a career. This is the time that you “have the time” you’ve been telling people didn’t exist.
Of course, I can speak on behalf of writing, but just because you’re reading my blog that doesn’t mean your interests are focused on writing. I work from home all of the time, so Covid-19 hasn’t changed my day-to-day life much. My hobbies are gardening and metal detecting, so you know, I’m use to no contact. My partner, she works from home as well. Our kids – now that is different. So, I am working overnight as much as I can to help manage a bickering three and six year old during the day. So, while life has changed in different degrees for everyone, there will be few times in your life that you can look back and say, “I took advantage of a difficult situation – and succeeded.”
Here are a couple steps you can take to turn your lockdown into a success.
Identify your passion
Do you love photography? Have you always been interested in being a professional blogger, Youtuber, gamer, or social media influencer? Do you love writing? Or, do you just want to continue working from home. Identifying what you love to do, or want to do as a career is your first step. The interesting thing is that most people have the ability to pursue their interests as a career and have no idea that was ever an option. I’ll give you an example:
A friend of mine loves metal detecting and you can probably find him in Iowa parks at least three times a week. Sure, he finds his share of coins, jewelry, and other fun items, but the reality is he probably won’t make a living out of it unless he is living in a tent and staying strict to a diet of Ramen noodles. But, one day he was out detecting and a woman asked him if he could locate a few land boundary markers for her. She offered him $100. Soon, she passed his name onto someone else, then someone else, and you know how this goes. Eventually he was able to start a business detecting for people, everyone from someone who lost a class ring or set of keys to private investigators. With the money he initially made, he purchased vending machines, which produced a passive income that he tends to once or twice a month. In all, my friend was able to create something from his passion and it was never a career change he’d thought of.
My partner works from home for a large corporation, but in her spare time she creates book clutches, activity kits, bows, and a variety of other things that she sells online and local stores. This is her passion. In my line of work it is also common to work with virtual assistants who perform the same or similar work as an executive assisstant, the difference is that they work from home.
Writing is one of those careers that many people are interested in becoming. This type of career allows you flexibility, and even in difficult times – if you plan right – can still stay busy. In fact, you can find several blog posts on my site about starting a writing business, finding clients, and other insightful information I’ve learned.
Do your research – Pursuing your passion as a career
It’s one thing to have a passion and it’s another to turn that passion into a career. One thing I suggest is hitting up your favorite search engine to find stories of people with similar interests and how they turned those interests into a small business. By now, Etsy is a household name and you may do a lot of your shopping there. But, did you know that Etsy offers one of the best small business blogs out there? Seriously, I love it. Etsy contacts successful Etsy businesses and asks them to contribute to their blog regarding how that business got started, overcoming obstacles, and more. If anything, the blog is inspirational if not crazy-informative.
I wrote part-time for a long time, but when I made the full-time move I did a lot of research – a lot! I searched blogs, websites, and took in as much information as I could on what to do and what not to do. Then I did what I wasn’t supposed to do – naturally. In the end it worked out. The thing is that websites such as my cafelegacy.com offer a lot of insight into starting a career. What you should try to avoid are sites that are all about sell sell sell. For example: “Buy my program to earn $100,000 a year” or “Follow my $1,500 class, knocked down to $499, and you’ll be a winner.” You can probably learn something from these courses and programs, but the truth is that the info is free and out there. You just need to jump down your web-browser’s rabbit hole.
Do your research – starting a business
I can tell you that this has actually been the most difficult thing for me and I am still trying to figure things out. One good resource is SBA.gov, which is the federal small business website. Additionally, your state will have resources available. Starting a business will entail everything from legally setting up your business at the state and federal level, but should also include things such as how you plan on collecting money. You can look at my rates page to see how I am paid (hint, 95% is through Square). Additionally, things such as setting hours, how you will communicate and conduct virtual meetings, and setting up a work space are all important. Many of these things will evolve over time, but doing your research will help you avoid some of those stumbles holding you back.
You never know how long it will take you to get your business going. I am a bad example because when I lost my full-time job I had a line of clients who I had been working part-time for, who wanted me to take on more work. Additionally, I had several years of knowledge on how to pick up new clients. Years later, that experience would coem in handy when I lost all of my clients to tarrifs. But, losing those clients also taught me hard lessons on managing my work better.
The good thing is that nowadays it is likely that whatever your passion there is a resource (good and challenging) that will help you find work in the beginning stages. Finding work can start with Etsy, Amazon, Ebay, cold calling, virtual posting pages, and for many freelancers content mills. Some of these sites can be difficult, but all will serve as a stepping stone to get your foot in the door. Again, identifying your passion and people who have already gone through the gauntlet is a good way to get started. There are a lot of outlets out there, you just need to do your research.
Understand what “work from home” means
In my blog post, Scheduling time when you work from home, I address the two most important concepts for someone moving from working for another company to working from home for your company. Those are: If you work for another company, that company influences your personal life, and second, if you work from home, your home life will influence your work life. Easy concepts, right? Well, when you are doing your research on how to work from home you will see “Set office hours and tell your family that you are not mom or dad during that time.” I say, good luck! Do you think my six or three-year-old care if I am writing a book when they want a snack? Do you think my partner cares about me being on an important phone call when the kids are spazing out? Nope!
The first step to working from home is understanding that while there are many positives there are also many challenges you may not have expected. For example, positives may include flexibility, setting your own schedule, more easily work on your life-work balance, or working in your underwear. Challenges are motivating yourself to work, managing family life while you work, finding clients, and getting clients to pay.
Once you understand what working from home really means you can address the obstacles that affect you. It may take time, and frustration, but the difficulties aren’t any harder than starting a new job.
Make sure you will love what you do
I’ll use my partner as an example. We have discussed her working from home doing what she is passionate about. But, the concern is, “If I am doing this for a living, I’m afraid I will no longer be passionate about it – or even care.” That’s an honest concern and one you should take stock in. However, that doesn’t mean you will end up hating what you are passionate about. Though, you may want to find a balance between your passion and your new career. Taking my metal detecting friend as an example, he loves detecting and digging, though he also seperates his time. He still hits the parks and older homes as his hobby, but his income is derived from other metal detecting outlets. For me, I write for other people, but my passion is to be a novelist. That means, I take time each day to work on novels and short stories. That helps me maintain my passion. I used to focus on my writing at the end of the day, but I realized that there are days – many of them – that I just don’t want to work on a novel after 8-12 hours of writing for others. So, every day I start out by working at least an hour on my own projects. That helps me stay balanced.
Work hard, but don’t overwhelm yourself
Starting your own business, or even just thinking about it, will be fun in the beginning. That fun will probably motivate you and keep you excited for a long time. But, as business picks up you will be tempted to take on more work than you can handle. For people on the outside they’ll tell you, “Oh, well that’s a good thing.” It’s not. Taking on more work than you can handle is a nice thought, but will quickly have you realizing that too much work means you won’t have time to complete what you need, is demotivating, will upset clients, and takes away everything you wanted when you decided to work from home.
It can be scary if you work from home because you never know if you will lose your clients, when, or for what reason. That is often what leads to the impulse of taking on everything that comes your way. But, once you get over those fears, you will realize that managing your time appropriately will actually help you out more in the long run. I like to run by the 75%/25% rule. 75% of my time is scheduled, and 25% is not. This allows me to transition from one client to a new one as I finish books or other projects. At the same time I don’t run out of work and work tends to stay consistent without a lot of fluctuation. This may not work for every business, but for me it does. You will find a balance that works well for you.
In conclusion I just want to say that while Covid-19 seems to be overtaking everyone’s lives, that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from it. This is a time you can live life, enjoy your family, and find balance. Some people love there jobs and will never leave, but others, like yourself, may have been dreaming of the perfect time to start your own business or pursue your passions. This is that time and I hope you use it wisely.
I hope to hear from you soon and would love to hear how you’ll turn your passion into a career.
I am a full-time freelance writer specializing in books, though I also write blogs, web-content, and handle several other types of projects. To see what I offer visit my rates page or contact me with specific queries and questions. I’m also available to help mentor you through your first book. I’d love to work with you, and if you know anyone else looking for a writer I offer a generous referral fee.