Top 10 Obstacles to Success as a Work at Home Mom


We all have some internal barriers to success. These are limiting patterns and beliefs that people experience, acting as a wall between their desires and achieving their goals. Success takes many forms, and though one may be successful financially, they might not be successful in their personal relationships. As work at home moms, we are especially susceptible to falling into patterns of behavior that can turn into self sabotage.

I’m not a clinical psychologist, but I do have some credentials behind me that allow me to speak to this topic. I have a BA in Holistic Psychology, have coached for Anthony Robbins & Associates for over 2 years, and between 1995 and 2004 I have owned two businesses that never went anywhere because I kept getting in my own way. 

The lessons learned from both my own successes and failures bring me here today. I have had to overcome every single obstacle on this list – both personally and professionally. I found that it didn’t matter where I worked or what I worked on – even if I was doing a lot of the ‘right things’. If I was still holding onto these destructive feelings, I always took one step forward and two steps back.

I put them out here before you as a guide and as a warning. If you really want to follow your entrepreneurial dreams and start your own home based business, take a look at the following top ten obstacles to success. If you find that you have a patterns of some of these emotions that still control you, I would like to gently invite you to take some time for yourself and work on an action plan to make some different decisions about what emotions you choose to feel on a regular basis. Do this now, before you invest your heart, your soul, and any savings in pursuing your dreams::

  1. Depression
    Depression is an isolating disease of the mind. It disables your ability to act rationally and think objectively and clearly. Depressed individuals are riddled with guilt and anxiety, and run patterns of self-defeating behaviors. If you have signs of depression, please DO NOT try to start or run a home based business unless you have a VERY strong and loving support system in place. AND you must have a plan in place to overcome these feelings when they come back to strike. Some of the reasons for this include:A home based business can be very isolating. Isolating yourself in a depression will only worsen the symptoms of depression, and put you at risk for further loneliness and even potential self harm.

    In a self-employment situation, there is no ‘boss’ to hold you accountable. Thus, without a check and balance system in place, you may very likely get NO work done at all.

    When one works at home, it is a challenge to keep work and home separate, no matter how healthy a person is. But for someone who is depressed, the work at home environment has a large number of situations in which you can set yourself up for failure, and thus have an overload of reasons to feel guilty and inadequate. To run a business, one must be responsible for all aspects of running the business. Additionally, one must also run the house. You can feel guilty for not getting enough work done. Yet you can also feel guilty for letting the house get messy. It can rapidly turn into a lose-lose situation.

    I have direct experience with this topic as I let my thriving freelance graphic design business crumble as I let depression take over my life. I really recommend seeking professional help and to make your happiness and mental clarity your highest priority before you attempt to start a work at home job or business. If your depression is getting in the way of your already established business, take care of yourself first before you take care of anything else. Now.


  2. Fear of Rejection
    Most home based businesses entail some aspect of sales. This may be overt inside or outside sales of a product or service. Or it could be a “softer sell” of PR, ideas or business partnerships. Regardless, a fear of rejection will keep you from going after any sale. Your business will very likely REQUIRE that you be willing to be a sales person from time to time. Many people recoil at the thought of being associated with anything remotely close to a “used car consultant”. Yet this can be overcome by reading books on selling, attending sales training seminars, and by practicing sales pitches with a coach or friend. 


  3. Fear of Addressing Money, Fees and Rates
    This is a common problem, especially with creative professionals. At the same time, it is one of the most subtle yet insidious negative thought processes that can and will ruin a business if not properly addressed. Though this may seem like a simple and harmless bout with humility, in reality it is the tip of the iceberg of some of our deepest fears – that we are either not worthy, or not enough. Run, don’t walk, to you local bookstore or to Amazon and pick up one or more of the following books on wealth and abundance. There are spiritual connotations with this issue as well, so research these books carefully to determine whether they are in line with your personal beliefs on this topic, or at least willing to learn from the author’s perspective. 

    The Attractor Factor: 5 Easy Steps for Creating Wealth (or Anything Else) from the Inside Out (Hardcover) by Joe Vitale

    Think and Grow Rich: The Andrew Carnegie formula for money making (Mass Market Paperback) by Napoleon Hill

    Dynamic Laws of Prosperity (Paperback) by Catherine Ponder

    Ask and It Is Given: Learning to Manifest Your Desires (Paperback) by Esther Hicks, Jerry Hicks, Wayne W. Dyer

    What the Bleep Do We Know!?™: Discovering the Endless Possibilities for Altering Your Everyday Reality (Hardcover) by William Arntz, Betsy Chasse, Mark Vicente, Jack Forem

    The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success: A Practical Guide to the Fulfillment of Your Dreams (based on Creating Affluence) (Hardcover) by Deepak Chopra


  4. Lack of Focus or Discipline
    A high percentage of entrepreneurs are what could be considered ADD or ADHD. Additionally, individuals with ADD/ADHD tend to do poorly in a structured office environment, so working from home is more common for those with ADD. The reasons for this are plentiful – individuals with ADD are visionaries, ones who are constantly coming up with new and brilliant ideas, and people with a tremendous ability to think creatively. They are also people who HATE boredom, and have a difficult time focusing. Even if you don’t have ADD or ADHD, the amount of discipline required to really succeed in a home office environment is more than would be required of the average office professional, because of the wide range of responsibilities of the self-employed. Unless you are willing to be sales person, accountant, administrative assistant, writer, webmaster, presenter, telemarketer, president AND cleaning crew on a daily basis, working at home is likely not for you. If you are up for the challenge, then work with a coach to keep you accountable, or establish a meditation practice to increase your ability to concentrate and focus. 


  5. Low Self Esteem
    Expanding on the points made in numbers #1 and #3 above, low self-esteem is a huge obstacle to overcome in life in general – and can rapidly become insurmountable in a home office environment. Being self employed is a roller coaster for much of the time – and in order to pull yourself through the hard times, you need to believe in yourself and believe you can get through the dry spells. Additionally, if you are looking to your new career as a way to increase your self esteem, this is a gamble. It may work, or it may damage your self esteem further if things don’t turn out the way you thought they would. Self employment offers far too many opportunities for an individual to “beat themselves up” for mistakes made and failed initiatives. It takes a strong positive identity to turn these “failures” into valuable lessons for future growth. Make it a priority to take time to nurture your self love and respect, and work with a coach or a counselor if your self esteem is getting in the way of your work at home goals. 


  6. Co-Dependency and an Inability to Say No
    Unfortunately, some aspects of co-dependency are highly rewarded in the business world. Put the customer first. Never turn down a new project from your boss or client. Work on evenings and weekends to meet your deadlines. But a measure of balance in all of these things is missing when true co-dependency starts to take over. Your clients can start to take advantage of you. You may not bill for all of the time you spend on a project. Your weekends are consistently disappearing before your eyes. You take on another project that you really can’t handle because you can’t say no. 

    In this case, you must take the time to create an “ultimate outcome” for your business. Where do you want your business to be in 1 year? Five years? What will it feel like, look like, or what will you say to yourself when you have achieved your highest goals? Be as detailed as possible, then start reading it on a daily basis. When you need to make a business or project decision, keep in mind your ultimate outcome. Ask yourself, “Will this new project get me to where I want to go?” “Is this the kind of client that will help or harm my business?” You may find it easier to refuse projects that don’t fit your purpose, or to fire clients who are abusing your time and generosity.


  7. Workaholic Tendencies
    Again, boundaries between work and life get very blurry in a work at home office. Especially in the start up phase of your business, you may find yourself working 60 and 70 hour weeks. I am of the mindset that if I have to build my business based on long hours, I may have to MAINTAIN my business with long hours. I would rather build my business while simultaneously keeping my home life fun and balanced, to ensure I lay a strong foundation of work and home separation. 

    This is the ideal, and not always possible. It’s entirely too easy to simply go check your email and find yourself in front of the computer for several hours. Yet in order to avoid burnout, it is absolutely critical to schedule downtime and fun activities into your work week. I go so far as to put them onto a list of weekly commitments alongside my regular work commitments. I have a group of friends that meets weekly to hold each other accountable to these commitments, and if we don’t do everything we say we will do, there is severe leverage induced. We choose something that is particularly painful – such as paying each group member $100, or going without makeup for a week :: whatever will motivate us to complete our respective lists. By putting time with my children, a date night with my husband, and book reading time on my list, I am assured to get what I need to live a balanced and extraordinary life.


  8. Pessimism
    Focus on what you want, not what you don’t want. We get what we focus on. You don’t want business problems. You don’t want a lack of capital or cash flow. You don’t want procrastination, personal problems, or indecision. So stop thinking about these things! 

    One of my friends gave me a great quote recently – “Come to me with your solutions, not with your problems”. This will require that we start asking ourselves a better question to access better answers and better resources. Instead of saying to yourself, “Why do my clients always pay late?”, ask a better question, such as the following:

    ”How can I make it easier for my clients to pay their invoices?”
    ”What can I do to reward my clients for paying on time?”
    ”How can I create a new revenue stream for my company so that I have a more steady cash flow?”
    Or “How can I attract more clients that pay on a consistent basis?”


  9. Fear of Risk (Otherwise Known as a High Need for Certainty)
    Since there is inherent risk in starting a business, this one can work in two different ways:: 

    1 – Your fear of risk will keep you from pursuing the business you have always longed to start
    2 – Your fear of risk will cause you to miss opportunities for business growth

    Both are detrimental to your personal and professional life, with the second one being the most damaging in the long run.

    To overcome fears such as these, you must shift what you are paying attention to. Currently, in this scenario, you are concentrating on what the cost of action is. What you really want to look at is the cost of INaction. If you had a year to live, would you still put off pursuing your dreams? If you had NO fear in your life, what would you do differently? What will it cost you 5 years from now if you hold onto your fears the way you do today? What would you regret about this decision to pass up the chance to grow your business?

    Once you have answers to the above questions, you will likely be far more motivated to take action because you have now given conscious thought to the pain of inaction. We will always do more to avoid pain than we will to move towards happiness and enjoyment.


  10. Procrastination
    An extension of the Fear of Risk is Procrastination, but in essence, the problem and solution is the same as above. You attach pain and irritation to a certain task. So it is more enjoyable in the moment to avoid it. Even if you have good reasons for avoiding something, just the avoidance itself has its own consequences:: 

    Avoidance takes up your attention and energy.
    Avoidance induces guilt on a consistent basis
    Avoidance detracts from the identity of the person you want to be – successful, reliable, and on top of things
    Avoidance holds hostage your capacity to do the things you WANT to do
    Avoidance delays or destroys great feelings such as accomplishment and freedom
    Avoidance works on your subconscious mind, reinforcing negative beliefs and patterns which hold you back in all areas of your life
    Avoidance can actually get you in trouble or truly sabotage your career if you avoid important legal, ethical or business matters

    It helps to make a grand list of things that have been on ‘hold’ so to speak. You may find that some things may not even need to be done anymore, or you can delegate to someone else. This can start to free up your energy instantly. Even getting it down on paper is a freeing action, because you are not constantly trying to remember all of the things that you have been meaning to do. And as mentioned previously, by making commitments and having a coach, friend or group hold you accountable, you can gradually add things from your procrastination list to your to do list. When completed, plan a big reward and acknowledge yourself for rising above inaction to action!!