Working in your pajamas, holding meetings from your living room, picking your projects, working when you want to—oh, the luxury of the home-business life, right? Right! And, also… wrong. Ask anyone who runs a business from home and you’ll hear the same thing; while the perks are plenty, the work is hard. Business ownership can be truly rewarding, but not without discipline—so, whether you’ve just launched a company or are about to, here are the biggest mistakes that you want to avoid:

1. DON’T start without a business plan.

It may sound cliché, but when you fail to plan, you truly do plan to fail (as Carol often says). Starting your own business is a case study in why having a plan matters—without a clear sense of goals and how to achieve them, you’ll have a hard time reaching success. So, don’t launch a new business without a solid idea of what that business will look like and how it will move forward.

2. DON’T forget to be a businessperson.

You don’t start a home daycare business because you are passionate about business; you’re passionate about home daycare. The same is true of copywriting or selling or so on—but when you launch your own company, you have to wear a lot of hats. This means taking on the responsibilities of managing business affairs.

3. DON’T expect clients to find you.

Marketing matters—so make it a top priority. Establish specific, tangible channels through which you tell potential clients about your products or services. Invest in a website. Consider social media. Look for other local businesses with which to partner and cross-promote. You may handle these projects yourself or you may hire outside help—in either case, the costs are truly an investment in helping your business grow.

4. DON’T be inflexible.

Part of growing your business means being willing to adapt, both as your industry changes and as your clients do. If you’re unwilling to budge even a little, you run a great risk of becoming irrelevant. Think of marketing 10 years ago compared to marketing now—could companies that wouldn’t jump into the online world survive? Similarly, stay aware of what’s happening in your field. Keep your finger on the pulse of technology, cultural changes, and media attention as it relates to your company.

5. DON’T underestimate the work involved.

Sure, your friends and family think you’re living the dream, working fewer hours and getting to goof off. But don’t let yourself believe it. The truth is that the beginning of a business is the most crucial period to ensure a successful launch. Expect to work harder than you ever have—but also, expect it to be worth it in the long run.

While starting a business from home takes hard work, discipline, and thoughtful planning, you already know the potential payoffs are huge, from greater flexibility to pride of ownership; that’s why you want to do it. And when you count the costs ahead of time, as described in this post, you’re on your way to setting your new company on firm footing—and eventually, leading it towards long-term success.

You might also want to grab a copy of Carol’s book, The Entrepreneur Equation.

Over to you

Have you managed a business from home or are you planning to do so? Do any of these tips surprise you? If you’ve worked from home for long, what other major don’ts have you come to see? What advice would you give would-be entrepreneurs?