Archives for June 2013

Benefits, Pitfalls and Alternatives of Working From Home

In Cambridge alone, there are 8000 self-employed individuals, many of which work from home. In addition to these, the number of employed staff working from home has increased by 13% to over 46% in the last 5 years.

working from homeAnd what a glorious life working from home is…

The rush hour traffic to work depends on the number of people or pets on the landing, you can check your email while eating cereal at your desk, having not even got dressed yet, work for an hour and then take the dog for one of many walks during the day.  You are largely undisturbed by chance encounters while making coffee, unnecessary meetings and other spontaneous interruptions.  You work when you want to, at your own pace and in the peace, comfort and quiet of your own familiar and comfortable surroundings. What could be missing from that?

Sometimes, but really not always, we need some of the very things that home working takes away. We require some element of routine, some formal and informal interaction with others on a similar intellectual level, and a distance from the complacency that home working can inadvertently give us.  A recent survey found the biggest obstacles for UK home workers are children or family demanding attention, difficulty concentrating on work issues and children, family and pets disturbing telephone calls.

If you don’t always want to work from an office and want a break from home working from time to time, what options are there? Coffee shops? Libraries? …. How about a Coworking Space?

What Is Coworking?

Let’s deal with one thing first “What is Coworking?” In its simplest form, coworking is an opportunity for like-minded people to work together in a collaborative environment. It’s a desk in an open plan office with other business professionals, from a variety of industries and experiences.

Coworking Is Just For Techies, Right?…..Wrong!!

When joining the Cambridge Business Lounge Meetup Group, everyone is asked “What does coworking mean to you?” This has produced a number of answers, three of which are repeated over and over. These are:

A:            Ability to add value by sharing our special expertise, a change from working at home and interesting networking.

B:            Being able to exchange of knowledge, ideas and support.

C:            Collaboration and the feeling of not being alone

Each point is absolutely a benefit for any small business owner across any industry.

Everything I Need Is At Home

As we’ve seen, working from home has fantastic benefits. None more so that the fact that everything you have is there, whenever and wherever you need it. Or is it? Have you ever, even just once, thought to yourself:

  • These four walls just aren’t giving me the answers today
  • I wonder how this website or blog post really looks.
  • I need to get out of here, but have got to get this done today.

If you have, then maybe a coworking space is just the thing you need to try out for yourself, even just the once. If not, how will you overcome the challenges that working from home can sometimes bring?

It’s Okay To Ask For Help For Your Business

helpStarting a business can be an extraordinarily exciting, yet daunting experience and the need for peer to peer support is greater than ever…

One morning, a boy was playing in his sandbox with his box of cars and trucks, his plastic pail, and a shiny, red plastic shovel. In the process of creating roads and tunnels, he discovered a large rock in the middle of the sandbox and, with a little bit of struggle, he pushed and nudged the large rock across the sandbox by using his feet. However, when the boy got the rock to the edge of the sandbox, he found that he couldn’t roll it up and over the wall.

Determined, the boy shoved, pushed, and pried, but every time he thought he had made some progress, the rock tipped and then fell back into the sandbox.

All this time the boy’s father watched from his living room window as the drama unfolded and, at the moment his tears fell, a large shadow fell across the boy and the sandbox.

Gently, but firmly, the father said, “Son, why didn’t you use all the strength that you had available?” Defeated, the boy sobbed back, “But I did, Daddy, I did! I used all the strength that I had!”

“No, son,” corrected the father kindly. “You didn’t use all the strength you had. You didn’t ask me.” and, with that, the father reached down, picked up the rock and removed it from the sandbox.

I have absolutely no doubt that you are great at what you do and that you are incredibly passionate about the products or services that you offer. But what don’t you know? And what is stopping you from getting your rock over the wall? I suspect that many don’t ask for help because pride gets in the way, or that we don’t know who to ask outside of traditional businesses like accountants or solicitors. Or maybe because a mental cry for help is closely followed by “but I wonder what it will cost me”.

But there is so much more help out there. In fact, at the time of writing, almost ¼ million businesses started up in the UK* this year alone and many will be sharing the same challenges and feeling the same frustrations.  So, get out there to networking events and coworking spaces; find other start-up businesses, whatever their industry, and support each other. You’ll be amazed how quickly your rock is removed and how much it will help your business to grow.

” Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much” – Helen Keller

* http://www.startupbritain.org