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“They must be something special.”
That’s what most of us think when we hear about someone achieving something big.
“They must already be rich or well educated or well connected.”
This isn’t always the case though. Sometimes all it takes is a few simple tweaks to the way you normally do things.
My friend Brittany from Life After Teaching is on the blog today to share her top tips for achieving success while working from home. Brittany quit teaching and started her work-at-home business just two short years ago, and she’s never looked back.
Take it away, Brittany!
Can I work from home?
“Is it really possible to work from home?”
I sat staring at my computer as I read a post from my friend Caitlin (who happens to be the creator of Work-At-Home School and Proofread Anywhere) sharing that her business had brought in over a million dollars in one year.
I was blown away. She was a normal person — just like me. And that’s when I started to wonder… “Can I work from home too?”
How do you start?
At the time, I was a science teacher and came from a family of teachers. Teaching or doing administrative work was really all I had ever known… and all I thought I’d ever do.
But something deep down was telling me there was more. But that’s hard to imagine when all you’ve ever known is teaching or secretarial stuff.
Seeing what was possible for Caitlin helped me realize that maybe more was possible for me too. And so I started searching for a side hustle.
I’m not going to sugar coat it — it wasn’t easy to be teaching and trying to figure out what to do next. I came home from work every day mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted. It was all I could do to peel myself off the couch and get to work.
So how do you start?
Step 1: Start with your mindset
Now that I’ve been in the work-at-home world for a while, I’ve observed a few common traits that seem to suggest success. The first is a person’s mindset.
Are you willing to believe it’s possible for you to work at home? That’s the first mindset hurdle.
That took a LOT of work for me. When I shared my goal with a family member, he told me that I was from a long line of people who worked hard but never really made it. He said, “You’re from a family who can never really get ahead. Are you sure this is legit?”
It was well-meaning, but it gave me insight into why I believed what I believed — that a better life wasn’t possible for me — because that’s what those around me thought for most of my life. But times have changed and it’s more possible than ever to not only work at home but also to build real wealth doing it.
The second mindset that seems to be an indicator of success is this: “Are you more committed to being a figure-it-outer or more committed to victimhood?”
If you’re committed to victimhood and blaming, you’ll say things like “Well I don’t know how to do this because no one ever taught me.”
Or “If only I had the same resources as this person or that person, then I could be successful.” If you’re more committed to the reasons you can’t do something… you’re going to prove yourself right every single time.
But if you can start to shift from “I can’t do this” and “I don’t know how” to “How can I do this?” or “How can I find the answer?” everything becomes possible.
It takes committing to a new story if you want a different future than the one you’re currently on track for.
Step 2: Create systems and processes
Every day you’re running on autopilot for a lot of your decisions. Whether you call them systems, processes, or just plain ole’ habits, you’re running on autopilot with your thoughts and decisions.
That autopilot setting may have been around since you were a child, so it’s likely that some of those habits are no longer serving you.
By consciously setting up systems and processes, you’re overwriting those old habits in favor of thinking and acting in a way that benefits you.
Here are a few examples:
My old habits and systems included me going to the kitchen to grab a snack whenever I was procrastinating on something that was hard for me.
Not only was it not serving me, but it was also costing me. Time, my health, my brainpower.
So now when I feel the urge to go to the kitchen, I have a system in place to ask myself “Am I procrastinating?” If the answer is yes, my next question is “How can I solve this problem?”
And sometimes it requires a break or asking for help, but most of the time, if I ask myself that question and then buckle down, I can find a way to figure out what I’m stuck on and move past it without losing the time, focus, or energy that I would have lost if I was mindlessly munching in the kitchen.
How my husband and I work together is another example of a system we set in place. If one of us has the door closed to the office, it means “I’m focusing right now; please don’t disturb.” We are able to stay focused that way, not hurt each other’s feelings, and get a lot more done.
But it’s not a system we always had in place. When we both started working at home, we set up that system so we could be more effective.
Step 3: Take action daily
This one is so simple but so many people don’t do it. It’s easy to make excuses — I can’t work on my side hustle today because…
But once you start taking action daily, you build momentum and the system that “I’m the kind of person who takes action daily.” It’s easier to choose to work daily when you believe you’re the kind of person who does that, but it’s also easier when you have the momentum to keep you going.
Your action doesn’t have to be earth-shattering, but it does need to happen — every single day. This consistency will get you further and faster than working once a week for two hours or working in spurts when you feel like it. I used to be a “work in spurts” sort of girl, but when I looked at how productive and effective I was compared to those taking action — even small action — daily, I knew my way just didn’t work as well and I needed to adjust.
When I first started taking action daily, it wasn’t easy. There were a lot of days that I felt like a toddler about to throw a tantrum. “But I’m tiiiiiired,” I would tell myself, or “I’m overwhelmed!” But I decided to rewrite that mindset and say instead “I might feel tired now, but I’m going to feel much more tired when I’m still working at 70 because I couldn’t take the action needed today.” That works for me — figure out what works for you. I also made a big red X on each day that I completed my daily action. Seeing the red X’s gave me momentum, and once I saw how they added up, I was hooked.
Step 4: Network
Network with people that are further along than you and network with people you can help.
Networking with people further along than I was helped me to break out of my old ways and believe that there was more I could be doing too. When I was teaching, I was around the same people every day — children, and then adults who were miserable. So that was just my normal life. Being around others who were further along than I was helped me see that I didn’t have to stay where I was. And most of them were business owners that didn’t come from a business background. It gave me hope that if they could do it, maybe I could too.
You also want to network with the people you can help — your ideal client.
I do a lot of this in Facebook groups and started my own Facebook group to help my ideal clients. Now most of the time, when people hear “Network in Facebook groups,” they think of people saying “Just PM me and I’ll tell you how you can make $3,000 in 2 days!”. That’s not what I’m talking about.
I network in groups by picking 3–4 groups that my ideal client hangs out in. I peruse the groups once or twice a day and search for keywords my ideal client might be using when asking for help. If they’re asking something I can answer, then I answer it for them. I don’t tell them to PM me for help or make an offer… I just help them. I’m giving them value without them paying me a dime. And nine times out of ten, they’ll say, “Can I PM you with a few more questions?” or they’ll message me (then or a few months down the road) and ask if they can hire me to help them with a project.
Networking online is a long game and it starts with providing value to your target audience.
Step 5: Build your tribe
Get really clear on who it is you want to help or serve. How do they think? What do they read? Where do they hang out online and in person? What are their pain points? How can you serve them? What do they need help with first? What do they need help with second, and so on.
The clearer you can be about who you want to help and how you can help them, the better.
Create a landing page where they can sign up for your email list and begin to build a relationship with them by emailing once, twice, or three times a week. Some marketers even suggest emailing them every day, but if you feel uncomfortable with that, then start with once or twice a week.
Often, you can create a landing page with your email service provider (Mailchimp, ConvertKit, Active Campaign, etc). Set it up as quickly and as easily as you can. It’s ok if it’s not the most gorgeous page to start — you can tweak it and update it as time goes on. The point is that you start and you start as soon as possible.
Are you a teacher who wants to quit teaching? Learn what skills you already have that you can use to leave teaching in The Teacher’s Toolkit. Get it for FREE with the code LAT.
Brittany is a former science teacher turned six-figure freelancer and entrepreneur. She works from home building funnels and writing copy for email marketing, websites, sales pages, and more. Brittany and her husband, Zach, run Life After Teaching, a blog for teachers who want to quit teaching. They provide resources, helpful tips, encouragement, and more.
Is anyone else blown away by the mindset nuggets Brittany shared with us today? I know I am! There’s a lot of food for thought there, so make sure you take it all in and implement it in your business. And if you’re a teacher who’s ready to quit, don’t forget to check out The Teacher’s Toolkit!
Ready to take the first step of your work-at-home journey? Check out Work-At-Home School to learn how you can get started.