Author Topic: Working from home - is it doable?  (Read 7804 times)

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Offline monkeytennis

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Working from home - is it doable?
« on: May 03, 2016, 12:52:56 am »
Hi all,

I've always wanted to be able to work for myself (as have many people) either from my own home, or from my own lab/office (like Dave's).

It's something I'd like to aim to achieve as a 5-year plan, but I suppose the question is, is such a thing really viable to make a liveable income?  I know some people here are doing something similar so I thought I'd throw some questions out to pick your brains.

Just to give a bit of background to myself; I've worked in electronics all of my adult life, both as a technician and an engineer.  I've worked on reasonable-sized jobs designing and constructing high-power life-testing ATE, down to small microcontroller-based solutions.  Now I am currently a software engineer writing software to control ATE, chiefly in C++.

So I am reasonably confident I can produce end-product, but the question is what sort of jobs can a one-(or possibly two)-manned band reasonably expect to take on?

Would it be more realistic to bid for jobs from larger businesses, or to make and sell my own products and hope to find a market for them?  And further to that, how could a one-manned band expect to get commissions with no track record, unless I go back to my previous employers offering them my services?

Is it possible to make money from open source projects without a large start-up budget?

What skills are sought after?  Can they be competitive with the labour costs from developing countries such as India, for example?

Even though the place I work out outsources around 40% of their jobs, they are to large consultancy firms and are expected to work on a project for a number of years, rather than for smaller jobs.  This would likely mean working on-site, which means I might as well be a full time employee.

I'd love to hear people's thoughts and any home-working success stories.   :-+

Thanks,
Simon
 

Offline DimitriP

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Re: Working from home - is it doable?
« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2016, 01:05:00 am »
Working from home is one thing.
Working for yourself is another thing entirely.
Pick a topic :)
   If three 100  Ohm resistors are connected in parallel, and in series with a 200 Ohm resistor, how many resistors do you have? 
 

Online T3sl4co1l

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Re: Working from home - is it doable?
« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2016, 02:25:29 am »
Sure, I do it all the time.  Just ask!

For those watching -- I can provide electronic design services, from concept to schematic design, to PCB layout and manufacture.  Check out my numerous posts here, or the projects on my website http://seventransistorlabs.com/ , and drop me a message here on the forum, or email tiwill@seventransistorlabs.com if you have questions or ideas you'd like to talk about!

Easy as that. :)

Tim
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Offline mswhin63

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Re: Working from home - is it doable?
« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2016, 03:13:54 am »
I have had experience at both, a shop and at home. I am currently working and operating a business from home, but I am scaling down to close up shop.

It not for trying though. Working at home is good but it will limit you ability to expand quickly, whereas a shop has to potential to expand quicker.
All this will have to depend on a number of variables, the most important one is possible distractions. In my place, there are too many distraction with no one in my household actively interested in my pursuit except SWMBO.

It is though not the reason for closing down. I have been operating for more than 22 years now but my health has suffered a bit. After my first shoulder reconstruction I decided to move back to home and straight away noticed a drop in expansion. from $250,000 to $200,000 in a year. This is more than likely do to operating at home.

I believe the distraction were the main cause for the initial drop. After that it was all health.
.
 

Offline MrSlack

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Re: Working from home - is it doable?
« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2016, 05:52:48 am »
I work from home, hence username. Had to move into software years ago to do it though.
 

Online coppice

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Re: Working from home - is it doable?
« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2016, 06:09:29 am »
Working from home is one thing.
Working for yourself is another thing entirely.
Pick a topic :)
Yep. These days many people in large companies work either mostly or entirely from home. This has always been true for many people in sales and local representative roles, but its becoming a much more general arrangement in many organisations.
 

Offline D3f1ant

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Re: Working from home - is it doable?
« Reply #6 on: May 03, 2016, 06:29:23 am »
It takes a lot of discipline, its hard not to work all the time  :D
 

Offline MrSlack

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Re: Working from home - is it doable?
« Reply #7 on: May 03, 2016, 06:33:34 am »
It takes a lot of discipline, its hard not to work all the time  :D

It takes much more discipline to actually do work I find.
 
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Offline nessatse

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Re: Working from home - is it doable?
« Reply #8 on: May 03, 2016, 06:43:38 am »
It does take some discipline  :D


 

Online coppice

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Re: Working from home - is it doable?
« Reply #9 on: May 03, 2016, 07:36:17 am »
It takes a lot of discipline, its hard not to work all the time  :D

It takes much more discipline to actually do work I find.

It creates different discipline issue for different people. I, for example, find it hard not to nibble a lot and gain weight working at home. When working in an office I seldom give eating a thought.
 

Offline Wilksey

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Re: Working from home - is it doable?
« Reply #10 on: May 03, 2016, 07:22:19 pm »
I guess it depends if you can get a customer base, I've always found myself wondering how you go about getting business in, i.e. new customers, where do you advertise etc?You could try freelancer, but unless you want to do it for the payment for a packet of crisps, I found it not worthwhile.

I find myself working on work projects at home rather than my own, which annoys me yet I still do it!
 

Offline GreyWoolfe

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Re: Working from home - is it doable?
« Reply #11 on: May 03, 2016, 07:48:25 pm »
It takes a lot of discipline, its hard not to work all the time  :D

It can work the other way around, as in hard to stay focused and work.  I am a remote field service tech and I have had days with nothing major to do and have loafed part of my day away, like now.  In my defense, my back is really acting up so I took a personal day off.  However, as the scope of work has recently changed, I now have much more to keep me busy.  I still find myself getting distracted at times, I probably shouldn't have my personal computer here in the office, but I also use it for my ham radio activities.  The getting distracted still happens after 12 years of doing this job.  You would think I would be used to working at home after this long  :palm:
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Offline John Heath

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Re: Working from home - is it doable?
« Reply #12 on: May 04, 2016, 03:04:33 am »
I did the work at home thing for better than 10 years. As a whole I would give it a thumbs up. From my experience I can give the ups and downs of home self employment.

The down side.

1] It will spoil you to the point of being unemployable. I mere notion of a commitment to be at a given location everyday at 9:00 AM and then stuck there until 5:00 PM is unthinkable. How can anything get done in life with an employer sucking 8 of the best hours of the day 5 days a week every week. Returning to a regular job is unlikely so it is sink or swim on your own feet. That can be a little nerve racking at the end of the month when bills have to be payed.

2] Work never ends in the true sense of ah ha 5:00 PM. Even when not working it is always on your mind as the work is always in line of sight. This does not meant working hard but you are always working to some degree when self employed.

3] I can not think of a third down side  8)

The up side.

1] If an interesting TV show comes on you are liberated to drop all tools and enjoy ,, maybe pour a nice rum and coke. In short total control of  life in the moment such as take the day off just for fun to visit a friend or play golf. 

2] Your car is a tax right off as well as the 1/2 home , tools , test equipment.

3] Competitive advantage to outbid the competition as home and business under the same roof is far less expensive.

4] Control of income. If you want more money you work harder.

5] A realization that a business contract is not in the details of that contract. Just a nod of the head is a business contract actionable in a court of law if services are rendered , contract by action. Law aside real business is in the heart. You make sure anyone doing business with you is okay regardless of the details of that contract. Once that trust is established the pedestrian subject of money will seldom come up as mailed bills will always be paid. I would consider this the most valued lesson from self Employment.

6] Rather a king on an island than a servant on land. That says it all.

I summary I can recommend self employment especially from the home for a competitive edge to anyone considering the idea. My market was quick and cheap electronic fixes or top down design for small business. Top down is fun but will lose money every time. The gravy is in the fix. Most small business can not afford in house technical support so that market is always open.

 
 

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Re: Working from home - is it doable?
« Reply #13 on: May 04, 2016, 03:35:22 am »
Probably the majority of people start out working on their own by consulting for their previous employer. e.g. it's not uncommon to quite your job and then find they still need you, so they hire you as a contractor to still work on stuff and it grows from there.
If you don't already have contacts and possible work lined up, then your odds of getting jobs cold are not too good.
 

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Re: Working from home - is it doable?
« Reply #14 on: May 04, 2016, 03:40:02 am »
It creates different discipline issue for different people.

Yep, this!
Imagine working for yourself where your income essentially keeps coming in regardless of what you do or how hard you work,  and it doesn't really matter if a videos gets done or not. Motivation can be the #1 thing. I know a guy like that  ;D
 

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Re: Working from home - is it doable?
« Reply #15 on: May 04, 2016, 03:44:19 am »
I've always wanted to be able to work for myself (as have many people) either from my own home, or from my own lab/office (like Dave's).

BTW, the lab has downsides compared to working from home. It's much harder for me after dinner to say "See you honey, I'm off to the lab again to finish a video" than it is to wander into the back room or garage  and finish a video.
I though the lab was the ducks guts when i got it, but now I think I'd be more productive if it was back at home.
 

Offline Bud

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Re: Working from home - is it doable?
« Reply #16 on: May 04, 2016, 04:15:14 am »
3] I can not think of a third down side  8)

What about pension and dealing with insurance and bankers when you tell them you self employed?
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Online sleemanj

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Re: Working from home - is it doable?
« Reply #17 on: May 04, 2016, 04:28:16 am »
I work from home.

Upside: When I am at work, I'm at home!

Downside: When I am at home, I'm at work :-(

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Offline AndyC_772

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Re: Working from home - is it doable?
« Reply #18 on: May 04, 2016, 08:55:52 am »
Like any other option, working for yourself, from home, has upsides and downsides. They're not all immediately obvious.

Let's start with the good bits:

  • No commute. That alone might save a couple of hours a day which would otherwise be completely wasted. Add up that much time over the course of a week and work out what you could do, or earn, during that time. Add to that what you're saving in fuel, train fares or whatever else the commute would have cost you. That alone is hugely attractive, IMHO
  • No annoying boss or co-workers criticising how you do your job. Provided you meet customer requirements, which in my experience almost always revolve around the end product doing what it's meant to do, you don't have to follow anyone else's ideas of how things should be done.
  • Vastly improved quality of office coffee, music, bathrooms, lunch facilities and other amenities.
  • Dress code is dictated by nothing more onerous than the chance that at some point during the day, you'll have to open the door to sign for a delivery
  • Equipment purchases are dictated by what you'd like to work with, not what you can persuade the accounts dept you need to work with. This is one of those little 'hidden' pleasures; I actively enjoy using almost all my tools, and that means my whole working day becomes more enjoyable. It's taken a while to get to this point, of course, but that's OK. My money, my decisions.

Then there's the not-so-good:

  • Working hours. I've put these in the not-so-good category because on balance, I think the downside of never being away from work probably outweighs the upside of always being at home. Right now, for example, the sun is shining and I'd really rather be out on my motorbike. Popular 'wisdom' might be that I should take advantage of my situation, down tools, and go for a ride. But I have work to do, so I can't, and that's frustrating.
  • Total responsibility for getting things done. If I hit a problem, there's nobody who is also involved with the same project, or who has the necessary skills and knowledge to help out, whose brains I can pick. I'm on my own, literally.
  • Running a business is time consuming and expensive. Each time I figure I'm doing OK, I just need to look up what I'm spending on accountants, lawyers, insurance, consumable parts and other costs, and I come back to earth. (Actually I am doing OK really, but it's still depressing... not least because those costs don't necessarily scale with turnover, so they're a bigger deal in the early days).
  • If you have a number of small customers, they all want their jobs done right now, and none of them knows or cares about the others. At least if you work for a company and have a manager, that person might actually, y'know, manage.
  • If you have a family, do they recognise the difference between your being 'at home' vs 'at work'? Do they understand that you need to be left undisturbed when you're working, or are regular interruptions going to put a strain on family life?

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Re: Working from home - is it doable?
« Reply #19 on: May 04, 2016, 09:37:43 am »
3] I can not think of a third down side  8)
What about pension and dealing with insurance and bankers when you tell them you self employed?

Insurance shouldn't matter, you simply buy insurance, they'll happily take your money.
Pension, in oz you can put as much as you want (up to a limit per year) into your superannuation fund, doesn't matter if self employed or not.
Banks, a good cash positive business hopefully shouldn't need to borrow. Business credit card handle monthly cash flow. PayPal will loan you money if you use PayPal for sales.
EDIT: Oh, yeah, house loans can be a PITA when you are self employed.
 

Offline Iwanushka

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Re: Working from home - is it doable?
« Reply #20 on: May 04, 2016, 05:08:01 pm »
Working from home is possible, if you can find the right employer, I'm working from home from last July, I have some bad spinal damage so can't sit all day at the office, but my employer was very kind and shipped all the stuff that is needed to my home, I still have to go to the office a few times a month if I need some additional gear or if something cannot be done remotely.

P.S when working from home it's hard to say it's 5pm fuck it..most of the time I end up working till 3am with breaks every hour or two to get everything done, depends on the day...
« Last Edit: May 04, 2016, 05:11:25 pm by Iwanushka »
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Offline Kilrah

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Re: Working from home - is it doable?
« Reply #21 on: May 04, 2016, 05:37:05 pm »
Let's start with the good bits:

  • No commute. That alone might save a couple of hours a day which would otherwise be completely wasted. Add up that much time over the course of a week and work out what you could do, or earn, during that time. Add to that what you're saving in fuel, train fares or whatever else the commute would have cost you. That alone is hugely attractive, IMHO
  • No annoying boss or co-workers criticising how you do your job. Provided you meet customer requirements, which in my experience almost always revolve around the end product doing what it's meant to do, you don't have to follow anyone else's ideas of how things should be done.
  • Vastly improved quality of office coffee, music, bathrooms, lunch facilities and other amenities.
  • Dress code is dictated by nothing more onerous than the chance that at some point during the day, you'll have to open the door to sign for a delivery
  • Equipment purchases are dictated by what you'd like to work with, not what you can persuade the accounts dept you need to work with. This is one of those little 'hidden' pleasures; I actively enjoy using almost all my tools, and that means my whole working day becomes more enjoyable. It's taken a while to get to this point, of course, but that's OK. My money, my decisions.

Exactly, all of this!

Then there's the not-so-good:

  • Working hours. I've put these in the not-so-good category because on balance, I think the downside of never being away from work probably outweighs the upside of always being at home. Right now, for example, the sun is shining and I'd really rather be out on my motorbike. Popular 'wisdom' might be that I should take advantage of my situation, down tools, and go for a ride. But I have work to do, so I can't, and that's frustrating.
Organise work so you can. I'm currently employed but have been my own boss for many years before, and in extension to what you said above about not having to justify the way you work this includes taking free time whenever the hell you feel like. If you have to give estimations, add a lot of leeway to cater for that. I'd always at least double any reasonable initial time estimate, and aim for never being more busy than about half time. If things go to hell it gives you a chance to straighten them without blowing your estimate, if they go well you can either go have fun or pick another last-minute thing that might surface.

My motto was that work by default always had a "middle" priority, and could always be overridden by whatever came up be it nice weather, a friend calling offering to do something, or... another job opportunity. I've several times dropped everything to go away for a week when offered because that's what life is about.

  • Total responsibility for getting things done. If I hit a problem, there's nobody who is also involved with the same project, or who has the necessary skills and knowledge to help out, whose brains I can pick. I'm on my own, literally.
That sucks indeed. Trying to recognise difficulties ahead and either require additional resources for the particular project, and keeping contacts with other people you can get in if needed helps.

  • If you have a number of small customers, they all want their jobs done right now, and none of them knows or cares about the others. At least if you work for a company and have a manager, that person might actually, y'know, manage.
You're the manager. Explain the situation, give them options. Charge them extra for quick and urgent matters, either they'll learn to plan or they'll pay. It's only in your hands to make it comortable for yourself.
 

Offline free_electron

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Re: Working from home - is it doable?
« Reply #22 on: May 04, 2016, 08:52:01 pm »
I've always wanted to be able to work for myself (as have many people) either from my own home, or from my own lab/office (like Dave's).

BTW, the lab has downsides compared to working from home. It's much harder for me after dinner to say "See you honey, I'm off to the lab again to finish a video" than it is to wander into the back room or garage  and finish a video.
I though the lab was the ducks guts when i got it, but now I think I'd be more productive if it was back at home.
at the risk of incurring the wrath of swmbo
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Any comments, or points of view expressed, are my own and not endorsed , induced or compensated by my employer(s).
 

Offline pardo-bsso

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Re: Working from home - is it doable?
« Reply #23 on: May 06, 2016, 12:58:25 am »
Besides what others said I'd like to suggest start keeping track of your time if you aren't doing that already.

We are using Kimai ( http://www.kimai.org ), there are many others and even a notepad works too.

If you bill by the hour/day this will also help you see what part of the work takes more time and plan accordingly in the future. And also focus. Having an average cost for each task, even reading sites/forums, and seeing how much profit I've lost (or spent) on them or other activities that at the end of the day aren't really necessary was a very strong motivator to keep my mind from wandering around to much and do the stuff that really matters.

As for the kind of available jobs most of this days I'm doing software development for a living but I still repair old and weird scientific instruments on weekends.
 


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