In the 21st century, impairment and illness are on an alarming rise. The Center of Managing Chronic Disease estimates that, by the year 2020, 81 million Americans (25% of the population) will suffer from multiple chronic conditions. That is craziness! With a huge percentage of us suffering from possibly debilitating problems, it’s no surprise that the entrepreneurial trend here (as well as in other parts of the world) is on the rise. But even if those of us with health issues wanted to join in on that, figuring out how to work from home with a chronic illness isn’t exactly easy.
Luckily, though, we’ve got a pretty plucky spirit. According to a study we found from Syracuse University, a whopping 60% of people with disabilities are unemployed. Yet 63% of those people actually wish they had a job.
We won’t bore you with a ton of statistics, but the study was pretty sobering. Because of our disabilities and chronic illnesses, as a group, we’re more likely to be poor, get divorced, and have low self-esteem and optimism. Ugh!
With so many things bringing us down, it’s hard not to get discouraged. Especially about work. But the good news is that it’s actually fairly easy to start your own business, figure out how to work from home with a chronic illness, and begin making money quickly.
How to Work From Home with a Chronic Illness
As you can probably imagine, there are quite a few reasons why learning how to work from home with a chronic illness is a good choice.
6 Reasons Why Working From Home is Awesome
- Less competition among workers.
No more competition, no more glass ceilings, no more job applications, and no more coworker drama. When you work from home, a ton of the little things that suck about a full-time corporate job simply just aren’t issues anymore. There are so many perks and you’ll never have to worry about all that weird hierarchy stuff ever again.
- Avoiding discrimination in the workplace.
Not all of us have visible conditions, and quite a few of us are silent, invisible sufferers, but at one point or another, we’ve probably all experienced some type of discrimination or prejudice from a boss, coworkers, or the general public.
One of the ladies in our free Facebook group recently discussed how her job wouldn’t let her take bathroom breaks, even though she has Chron’s Disease. If it was an emergency, they required her to page someone over the intercom where everyone could hear. Thinking about that just makes us cringe. Luckily, she eventually was able to quit her job and now helps support her family working from home as a virtual assistant!
- Mobility and health issues.
If you’re completely immobile, obviously a “real” job just isn’t in the cards for you. But why waste your days away reading or watching TV? If you have the drive to work, it’s totally possible to learn how to work from home with a chronic illness, and then you can use that extra time to contribute to your family’s income!
Plus, depending on what type of job you choose, it can be super rewarding. If you do have some mobility, going to the office can be stressful. It causes more pain, requires you to commute, and it can be hard to manage your health away from home, especially if you have a special diet or need to take a lot of medication. Working from home can solve all of those problems!
- Build self confidence for future prospects.
The low self-esteem we mentioned earlier has a huge contributing factor when it comes to people with chronic illnesses and disabilities getting and keeping jobs. According to that Syracuse study, people with disabilities have fewer total years of schooling compared to those without disabilities, are 50% as likely to have a college degree, are an average of 7 years older (our guess is that this stat is skewed because of the aging baby boomers), have smaller families, are less likely to receive financial support from their spouses, are 50% less optimistic about their potential to get a job, and have had longer breaks between jobs. All of these things can really affect someone’s mindset if they are actively looking for a job. It might even cause them to give up and simply rely on government assistance.
But don’t let all of those stats get you down. People with disabilities are actually highly likely to want to work, are actively working to improve our skills, plus companies are becoming more and more accessible and open-minded over time. If you’re in between jobs, working from home can be a great way to add some experience to your resumé and build your confidence in a certain area. Freelancing from home is a great way to get small, one-off jobs in a particular area, which allow you to get practice doing something that you previously had no experience in.
- Improves the social, economic and psychological aspects of our lives.
Like we mentioned earlier, working from home has so many benefits, and there may be some that you’re not even thinking about! Obviously it’s more convenient and who would say no to more money?
But starting your own business can do wonders for the mind. Learning how to work from home with a chronic illness allows you to challenge yourself, grow your confidence, and realize that you can support yourself (or at least help). Plus, you might even improve your social life! Often, social events are not always feasible if you have a chronic illness or disability. You probably have to say “no” to friends and family more often than you like, or maybe relationships with those people have become strained since your diagnosis. Working from home allows you to socialize with so many different people all over the world! You can join Facebook groups, online masterminds, and chat with other people in your same situation. Seriously, it’s awesome.
- Allows more time for health and recovery.
Sometimes working outside of the home isn’t possible, because you have to spend a lot of time focusing on your chronic illness. When you work from home, your schedule is flexible! You can make room for those copious doctors appointments, take naps in the middle of the day, and set your own schedule. You can take vacations, sick days, and spend time with your family whenever you want.
Curious about exactly how to work from home with a chronic illness? Let’s talk about first 4 steps you’ll need to take if you’re wondering how to work from home with a chronic illness.
How to Work From Home with a Chronic Illness in 3 Steps
Step #1: Choose a Career Path
There are so many different work-from-home opportunities out there. It can actually be a bit overwhelming!
We’ve found that the best thing to do is sit down and make a list of all the things you’re good at. Consider tangible skills like “Microsoft Excel” and “bookkeeping,” but also write down your intangible skills like “time management” and “customer service,” because that stuff is important, too!
Once you have that in front of you, consider all of those skills as a whole. What type of job are you best prepared for?
It might help to view a list of possible options (although, trust me, you can do just about anything online).
5 Examples of Work From Home Jobs
- Medical. Surprisingly, you don’t have to be a healthy individual to work for a hospital or doctor’s office. Here’s a list of work-from-home jobs in the medical field. Miranda, one of the cofounders here at Chronic Illness Entrepreneur, used to know someone whose sole job was medical transcription work from home, and she had tons of flexibility and made great income.
- Finances. Handling the financial matters of a company can help keep your mind occupied and focused if math and money is something you like to do. Jobs in this field include accounting, bookkeeping, and consulting.
- Marketing. As an example, a market research analyst looks after the marketing procedure of the company and tries to improve sales and outperform the competition. You could also get into marketing by helping with aspects like graphic design, running ads, or copywriting.
- Animals. If you’re super passionate about animals, there are actually a few careers you can do in this area working from home. How awesome, right? You could be a cat or dog sitter, a dog walker (depending on your mobility), a kennel owner, a dog trainer, a pet masseuse (seriously), or an animal behavioralist. We actually know someone who does cat behavior consultations via Skype!
- Starting something brand-new. Oftentimes, the most awesome and most fruitful idea for you is going to be something that will not only keep you engaged, but also earn you a good income. If you have a unique idea or hobby, there’s probably a way to monetize it somehow!
Step #2: Start Your Business
Regardless of which field you choose, a lot of online jobs require you to start up your own business. Typically if you will be doing any type of freelance work (vs. being an employee of a company that simply works from home), you will need to go through a series of steps to open your own business.
- Write Your Business Plan. A business plan isn’t really necessary, but most real businesses have them in place. It can also be a helpful thing to do in order to feel focused and on top of things. It might come in handy later, too.
The National Federation of Independent Businesses, recommends including these 7 essential sections in your business plan.
- Finding a Business Location. This is a fairly easy step, as it’s probably going to be your house. But if you plan to do something a bit bigger, you’ll need to rent a room/building or find a good coworking space.
Even if you plan to run your business from home, it’s good to have a set area to work from. Whether that’s your bed or a dedicated home office, make sure it’s a place where you feel comfortable, and gather all your necessary tools around you.
- Financing the Business. What’s great about most work-from-home jobs is that they don’t have too many startup costs involved. You might need to purchase a website, a logo design, or order some materials, but you’ll need a very small amount of money compared to starting a larger company.
Keep in mind that some businesses may seem inexpensive, but have hidden costs. For example, making jewelry and selling it on Etsy sounds awesome, but you’ll have to purchase stuff like business cards, packaging materials, and other things that you probably hadn’t thought about. That isn’t a bad thing at all — just make sure you’ve discovered all the costs involved before jumping in. Once you’ve made your business plan, jot down a list of all the things you’ll need to buy. Then, make sure that you have enough money saved up.
It might also be a good idea to sit down with your spouse or family to discuss your purchasing decisions. If it’s not in your budget right now, you can work to save up and start the business later. You could also look into government-backed loans, venture capital opportunities, or grants.
- Determining the Legal Structure. A legal structure for your business is important. It affects the way you will do taxes, pay yourself/your employees, and earn money.
A few options to consider include a partnership, Limited Liability Company (LLC), or sole proprietorship. If you plan to be a freelancer or other type of service provider, you’ll probably want to stick with sole proprietorship. And, in that case, you don’t even need to register anything! If you do want to go the LLC route, the way you do that varies by state, but here’s some general information on the process.
- Registering a business name. You can skip this step if you’re just going to be a sole proprietor, but if you don’t already have a name for your business in mind, now’s the time to come up with one. Here’s a blog post that’s specifically about naming your virtual assistant business, but it could be helpful for anyone!
If you are going to be an LLC, you’ll also need to register your business name with your town. And your LLC application will also have you specify your business’ new legal name, like “Joe Smith Inc., LLC.”
- Applying for a business license. Luckily, you don’t have to do this if you’re a sole proprietor. But if you’re an LLC, there’s a bunch of paperwork you’ll have to fill out, plus there’s a fee. In most places, you can do this online through your state’s website.
- Setting up your website. You should probably check out our step-by-step guide on how to set up a freelance business, which covers the website part in depth!
- Start posting on your social media channels. Before you even officially launch your business, it’s a good idea to get social media up and running. This will help you to create some buzz and start building an audience. Depending on what business you choose, different social media channels may work better than others. For example, very visual businesses like photography and floral design do really well on Instagram. At the same time, informative blogs are all the rage on Pinterest.
Step #3: Marketing for Small Businesses 101
So we made you guys this cool business plan template (click to download above!). Inside, there’s a section where you’re supposed to fill in your marketing plan. But that’s kind of hard to do if you have no idea where to get started, right?
Marketing is complex, especially if you’re just beginning to figure out how to work from home with a chronic illness. Let’s just work on covering the basics today.
The trouble with marketing, though, is that different business types require different kinds of marketing tactics. It all depends on what your niche is and who your target audience is.
For example, here are a just few ways that you could market your business:
- Guest blogging
- Social media
- Facebook groups
- Paid advertising
- Referral program
Seriously, the list goes on and on. There is so much to marketing, so how do you even start?
Again, it really does depend on your specific business (if you’re really having trouble, come chat with me directly in the Facebook group!), but we typically recommend focusing on just a few of these if you’re getting started. Our favorites are:
- Social media
- Facebook groups
So what should you take away from all this? The most important thing is to realize that you can learn how to work from home with a chronic illness. In fact, the cool thing is that you actually have so many options available to you!
The next step is simply to choose a path and move forward! Discover how choosing to figure out how to work from home with a chronic illness can be one of the most amazing, rewarding, and exciting things that you can do for yourself.