5 Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make While Working From Home

5 Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make While Working From Home

5 Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make While Working From Home

Since many ecommerce entrepreneurs don't have a traditional office, we've been publishing a series of blog posts on how to work best from home. The first article gave five strategies to boost productivity in your home office. Then we showed you how set up a comfortable and effective workspace

Today, we're going to tell you five of the most common mistakes that entrepreneurs make when working from home, along with some easy-to-adopt tips that will stop you from falling into these sticky traps. 

1. Failing to Set Boundaries

There are always dishes, cleaning, and cooking to be done around the home. It can be tempting to take a quick break to handle those chores or spend a few moments with your kids, or watching TV, but you need to avoid these distractions as much as possible. But while you’re making an unnecessary sandwich and tweeting about it, your competitors are stealing a march on you and boosting their business at your expense. 
Making a sandwich is one thing, but it's increasingly difficult to resist family distractions. You need to set up boundaries. Set up a proverbial fence while you're working, be that a locked door, "family hours," or even a fancy backyard office. Your family needs to remember that although you’re at home all day, you can’t be called upon to play a game or run for groceries. Remind them in a gentle, kind way that you are working and should not be disturbed unless you’re taking a break or there’s an emergency.

2. Working in Pajamas

Sure they're comfortable, but walking around in polka dot PJ's or pink bunny slippers (edit: unless they are these bunny slippers - see comments) can cause more harm than good. Now that's not to say you shouldn't dress comfortably, but it's important to draw the line between relax time and work time. When you're wearing pajamas (or something similar) you never really leave relaxation mode. If you always feel like you're in bed, chances are you're acting like it as well - even if it's at a subconscious level. 
When you get up in the morning, change into something professional. Leave relax mode physically and your mind will follow. Once you're dressed, find a way to get in the zone, and that can be different for everybody - maybe it's coffee, yoga, meditation, a gruelling workout, or even 20 minutes of playing video games. You'll find your concentration will strengthen, productivity will rise and you'll even find that your confidence level has increased. 

3. Working Irregular Hours

Generally, it's not a good idea to be sleeping while your customers are shopping. You want to be working when the majority of your customers and partners are working. In the world of ecommerce where you can make sales while you're in bed sleeping it can be tempting to work wherever and whenever you want. This is okay sometimes, but it's best not to get in the habit of working irregular hours. 
If you handle sales, support, and marketing you should be able to react to emails, calls, and tweets as quick as possible. Try to get yourself into some type of routine, and you'll find yourself more productive throughout the day. Now I know this isn't for everyone, because one of the greatest perks of working from home is choosing your hours, so don't be too strict with your schedule. Keep things flexible, but still give yourself guidelines on when you should start work every day, when you should have lunch, and when you should call it quits. 

4. Always Working From Home

Staying in the same spot for hours on end is bad. Staying inside for days on end is worse. You need to step outside once in a while, get some fresh air, and absorb some of that beautiful sunlight. Or at least give yourself a change of atmosphere by working from a local coffeehouse, the library, or a coworking environment.  
Every day make an effort to get outdoors. Instead of eating lunch in your kitchen every day, try bringing a brown bag to a local park, or even meeting up with a friend for a bite to eat - as social interaction is very important as well. You should also consider joining a professional association for your industry. In addition to building contacts, it's healthy to have the odd meeting or social gathering to attend after work hours. We have work from home jobs at Shopify and we encourage all these things.

5. Not Staying Organized

Just because your house is messy, doesn't mean you're allowed to keep your home workspace disorganized. For most people, having a cluttered work environment causes stress and impedes productivity. 
One of the biggest causes of clutter is often post-it notes with daily tasks and to-do lists, scattered about. Eliminate this mess of paper by putting all of your ideas in one, trackable place: The 10x Journal for Entrepreneurs.


  • Shopaholla
    May 24 2012, 02:41PM

    Preach it! 5 simple but great thoughts on what its like working from home. Well done Mark.

  • @Shopify Mark Hayes
    Mark Hayes
    May 24 2012, 02:48PM

    Thanks Shopaholla!!! :-)

  • Lori
    May 24 2012, 02:51PM

    Great tips! I have found no 2 to be very true with me. I have to be dressed to be focused otherwise I find I get nothing done!

  • Nick
    May 24 2012, 03:21PM

    While I agree wholeheartedly with 99% of your comments, I do take objection to the “pink bunny slipper” comment. As a purveyor of fine animal slippers we spend most of the day in a pair and happen to be very productive :-)

  • @Shopify Mark Hayes
    Mark Hayes
    May 24 2012, 03:36PM

    Lori: Glad you like my tips! :-) Thanks for reading!

    Nick: Hahaha, okay, I changed the article – check out part 2.

  • Andrew Youderian
    Andrew Youderian
    May 24 2012, 03:38PM

    These are VERY true! Boundaries are really, really important. It’s also crucial to stress inter-personal boundaries to friends and family members outside the home. Many people assume:

    “Oh hey! You work from home, and can do whatever you want. I’ll swing by at 2 and we can hang out”

    …so you have to be really pro-active about protecting your work time and telling people what is – and what isn’t – appropriate in terms of dropping in.

  • Nick
    May 24 2012, 03:39PM

    Thanks Mark, we slipper sellers can get so passionate about the subject!

  • @Shopify Mark Hayes
    Mark Hayes
    May 24 2012, 03:59PM

    Andrew: Yup I totally agree! I worked at home as a freelance journalist for a few years after university and constantly struggled with that type of thing! Especially in the summer when the sun was out, I’d always have friends dropping by for a beer. Tough to say no.

    Thanks for reading!

  • Fernando
    May 24 2012, 07:59PM

    Disagree completely. Those are exactly all of the reasons why one SHOULD want to work from home.


  • Jon
    May 24 2012, 08:47PM

    I fail. I make 4/5 of these mistakes. 20% on an exam isn’t bad, right?


  • ryan
    May 24 2012, 11:08PM

    If you can’t be effective in sweat pants, your outfit is the lest of your problems.

  • loveties
    May 24 2012, 11:41PM

    it’s valuable for business beginner

  • @Shopify Mark Hayes
    Mark Hayes
    May 25 2012, 07:27AM

    Fernando: I’d argue it’s important to maintain balance. Sure it’s okay to wear your PJ’s every now and then, but on a regular basis? No way.

    Jon: Hahaha, we’re all guilty sometimes.

    Loveties: Thanks!

  • Sheralyn Barnes
    Sheralyn Barnes
    May 25 2012, 09:33AM

    COOL! Those are MY BUNNY SLIPPERS! And yes I work in them. At least on cooler days. I’m a children’s illustrator. Keeps things in perspective for me.

  • Andrew Youderian
    Andrew Youderian
    May 25 2012, 11:48AM

    @Fernando Based on your comment above: Do you work from home? And if so, do you make a full-time living at it?

    Working in your PJs while hosting frequent drop-ins is a blast! Well, that is, until you realize you’re not getting anything done and going broke….

  • Boutique de la Mer
    Boutique de la Mer
    May 26 2012, 11:55AM

    OMG! You hit the nail on the head – every one of these is SO true. :O)

  • @Shopify Mark Hayes
    Mark Hayes
    May 28 2012, 04:17PM

    Boutique De La Mer: Thanks!! :-)

  • Steve Smith
    Steve Smith
    June 02 2012, 04:41PM

    You need to set boundaries both ways. Just because your office is in the other room doesn’t mean work should lure you away from dinner with the family or non-work time in the off hours. It’s great to be able to get a few hours in at night when you need to get caught up or meet a deadline, but it’s easy to find yourself working all the time and burning out as a result.

  • Johnny
    June 03 2012, 01:39AM

    Can’t agree more! I work from my room and this where I sleep as well. One month after I started the business I was getting less productive every single day. I was questioning what was wrong I love owning and running a business so what could be cause of getting less productive? Fortunately, I have found that answer. That is my room was more of an office than a home to stay… my room was filled wtih invisible ideas flowing all around and and that psychologically affected my productivity! So since than every weekend I move drive up to one of my favourite place where I get to catch up on all the sleep and relax the way I want it and enjoy myself! This gives me a boost and allow me to sit and think over everything my team has been doing and what should we do next. This is where we plan what our next move will be and do business plan to the coming week! This is where I also plan how my lifestyle will be this coming week and I try to follow as much as I can when I start the week. I love this weekends break. If I could I would have already set up an office in my home but the unfortunate thing is I can’t due to personal reasons, but what I can do is doing things that can help me focus and take all the distraction out of me and take huge leap every single week and see the result of my business improve every week!! All entrepreneur should always take break and this will get you refocused and help you move forward and of course you will never procrastinate of your work as you are both giving time to your business and yourself as well! Everything will be balanced! From an entrepreneur whose business has a monthly turnover of $50,000 while started from only $2,000 in cash!!

    It all happens because of the state of my mind! Don’t compromise it.

  • Jeff Boggs
    Jeff Boggs
    July 04 2012, 05:36PM

    I find it very important to have a change of scenery to get refreshed!

  • Offgrid
    July 23 2012, 06:14PM

    Working from home, as a writer/blogger is the perfect life. But I need to write when the muse strikes, which is pretty irregular. http://www.Offgrid-Living.com

  • SusanD
    August 24 2012, 05:10AM

    Omg… I think I’m guilty of ALL of those at least half the week! lol

  • donnau1
    October 27 2012, 05:22PM

    You brought up some good points however,I think that working from home is fantastic and I have been seeking a work from home jobs but all I have seen so far is nothing but people trying to scam you out of your hard earn money. There are so much scan on the internet that you don’t know which one isn’t a scam anymore. Thanks for sharing.

  • Ramon
    December 25 2012, 10:25PM

    What room to work from? I just started an eCommerce and I couldn’t bare to work from a regular room with little windows and no contact with the outside. OTOH I am messing up my Living Room big time!

Leave a comment ...

Start your free 14-day trial of Shopify