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Don't Forget Yourself: Surviving the Financial Strain.

 

When you start a home business, it's all too easy to get carried away by all your new obligations: keeping your customers happy, earning enough money to live, and so on. Being in such an uncertain financial situation is stressful, but many home business owners simply ignore this stress, instead of dealing with it. When you're worrying about money, you tend to be worrying about everyone else and what will happen when you let them down. What I'm saying is this: don't forget yourself.

The End of Stability... or the Beginning?

Many people get very upset a few months after they quit their job and start their own business, feeling like they threw away the financial stability they had in their job, to chase a dream. Think of this way, though: just how stable were you in your job to begin with? Did you constantly have to avoid saying or doing the wrong thing, for fear of getting fired? Did it always feel like you were one bad project away from the end?

Well, you are in almost all 'real' jobs, when hiring and firing is at the whim of your manager. At least now you work for yourself you can't lose your whole job -- only individual clients. I know many people, especially medical professionals, who feel far more stable working at home than they ever did in their job. They know that there will always be at least enough people coming to them for them to survive.

Living With It.

You knew this was going to be hard on you financially when you started -- it's no excuse to give up. Talk to any home business owner and they'll tell you how much stress they're under. It's part of the way of life. Big companies are designed to take financial strain away from individual employees, since everything is decided by committee and it's the investors who are going to be losing out anyway. You don't have this luxury.

The only advice to give here is that you shouldn't take any more financial risk than you're comfortable with -- decide in advance just how much you're willing to lose before you throw in the towel. You should agree this point with your family before you start, though, and don't let them pressure you into giving in before you've reached it.

Keep Clear Records.

The absolute worst and most stressful thing is not to know exactly what your financial situation is from day to day. While you might think you don't want to know, things are never really as bad as they seem when you've got the numbers in front of you. It's when you leave it to your imagination that things really start to seem bad.

The simplest way to keep records for yourself is to use a simple accounting program, or even just a spreadsheet. Enter what you started with, and then record everything you spend and everything you earn. Remember: it's never that bad.

Don't Start Taking Sick Days.

It can be all too easy to take 'sick days' when the only person you answer to is yourself -- when you feel stressed, the natural reaction is to hide away and ignore whatever it is that's making you stressed. You'll only make your financial situation worse if you do this, so it's important that you only stop working when there's something actually wrong with you, not just when you feel low.

What's the Worst That Can Happen?

Think of it this way: what's the absolute worst case scenario, the thing that you're most afraid of financially? There are very few situations that couldn't be solved by selling a few of the things that have accumulated in your house over the years (you probably don't even use them), or by selling your car and getting a smaller one. Do you really need all those things you subscribe to monthly? Newspapers, cable TV, and the rest could all go in an emergency, right?

Basically, when you run a home business, you might have to make a few short-term sacrifices to get yourself out of trouble. I guarantee you, though, that you will find it very difficult indeed to completely crash and burn.