If you long for the rural life, but just can’t figure out how you’re going to work successfully from your homestead, I know how you feel – it’s terrifying!  Just the thought of it probably brings up a whole wheelbarrow load of resistance.  I know it did me.

You might decide to commute and continue working for your current employer, or you might decide to work for yourself.  If you decide to take your destiny into your own hands, this article might just have a few gems that will make that process way less stressful!

And maybe, dare I say, fun…

My Transition to
Working Online from Home

It took me a good four years of serious planning, and the better part of a decade dreaming, to finally find the nerve make the move from the city to our little homestead in the woods.

The actual decision to move was easy.  It was the implementation and all that involved that raised all the fear and resistance.  And in the end, it came down to a leap of faith. And dumping the wheelbarrow!

It was a slow progression: I moved from full time work, commuting two days a week, to commuting one day a week, to part-time work at the same organization commuting one day a week, to moving to complete self-employment.

I’m just at the beginning of my self employment journey, but I can tell you that I’m excited by the opportunities that lie ahead.  And they are many!  So, knowing how easily distracted I can get with homestead chores, and in order to help me better structure my time (because now I need to be super disciplined!), I spent the last six months researching and testing some online tools and resources that are helping me build the business of my dreams.  Here are my Top 5 Tools for Working from Your Homestead

The Tools I Use

  1. Basecamp – I’ve been using Basecamp since last January, after a website developer friend introduced me to it.  And I’m in love…  Basecamp is an online project management and collaboration tool that makes project management easy, highly intuitive and to be honest, kind of fun.  I use it to track and manage so many activities:  internal management and business planning projects, marketing campaigns, marketing plans, copy writing projects for my own websites, and client projects.  I can invite clients and contractors from all over the world into specific projects, so have been able to eliminate the challenge of saving emails to project folders and keeping track of conversations and documents.  Clients can check in to find out the status of their project at any time of the day or night.  At the higher subscription levels, it will even do your time tracking for you.  The upshot?  Everything is in one place, it’s so much easier to manage, and it’s a clean, intuitive interface!  It has been a bit challenging to get clients to remember to use it, but I then just include their email message into a Basecamp message and when they respond, voila, it’s back in the system.  The ‘Basic’ subscription costs me $24 US per month – and the time it saves me pays for the subscription in a day.  Seriously.  That gets you 5 GB of storage space, and up to 15 active projects.  And you can turn projects off and on, which takes them off your ‘active’ list.  It’s so fabulous, and well worth the investment and the professional image it gives your business.  People will be so impressed at how organized you are!  I love, love, love Basecamp!  Can you tell?
  2. iBiziBiz is a time tracking and billing tool for Mac.  It’s not the most complex package available, but for the single entrepreneur, it creates a much smoother financial flow.  As my business grows, I’ll probably switch over to Freshbooks, but for now, it’s working great.
  3. iBank – Sister software to iBiz, iBank is a banking software package for Mac that I’m really enjoying using.  When I was on PC, I used Microsoft Money, but when I switched to Mac in 2008, the financial software options plummeted.  iBank is the only package I could find that did everything I needed it to, and in a way that was easy to use.  Tracking chequing accounts, saving accounts, investments, real estate… it can all be done easily with iBank.  It was pretty intuitive to set up, and doesn’t take much time at all if I update the accounts regularly.  If you’re needing a simple way to track finances and banking on a Mac, iBank hasn’t failed me yet!
  4. WordPress – What can I say – I’ve become a WordPress fanatic.  I’ve never really identified myself as a fan of anything (except maybe Bon Jovi in 1986), but WordPress has changed all that.  I’ve become a flag-waving WordPress super-fan!  It’s simple to install, it offers brilliant search engine optimization capabilities, there are really gorgeous and powerful themes already developed (and available for cheap), and it’s easy to manage.  And best of all, it can actually free you from ‘web designer bondage’ (as my brilliantly fabulous copywriting coach, Sandi Krakowski, states so eloquently!).  I’m sold, and am working on developing comprehensive packages for my website clients to help them optimize their online presence and save themselves a tonne of money and frustration in the process.  I started developing websites long ago using Dreamweaver, then moved on to Joomla about two years ago, and now it’s all about WordPress.  Can’t say enough good things about it for developing your small business.
  5. Facebook – Ah, Facebook.  The application so many love to hate.  Or at least try to pin as useless.  Unless you know anything about marketing and communications.  Here’s the deal, though – when you live in a remote, rural area, Facebook can be the difference between actually communicating with real live people some days, and becoming a hermit!  Add to that it’s brilliant potential for promoting your business from your rural area, where you can’t necessarily get out to see people all the time, and you’ve got a tool you’ll want to learn more about.  Word of warning, though – it’s addictive.  You need to be disciplined (a skill I’m still trying to master).  But as a rapport building tool for your business, there’s nothing like it… if you do it right.  I highly recommend Sandi Krakowski’s training if you’re just starting out or need a refresher.  She’s all about integrity and serving her customers.  Quite the mentor… I’m very lucky!

There are a more tools I use every day to keep my business functioning and growing, but these are the five that are helping me stay organized, engaged and laser-beam focussed on success.  I’d say that without them, I’d be heading down a completely different path – of being stuck in the same old, same old.  Still working for government and bound by all its restrictions.  Still stuck and frustrated by not living the life of my dreams.

In fact, Modern Homesteading would still be a list of ideas in my journal, and you wouldn’t be reading this!

So what tools do you use to help make your dreams come true?

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