If you happen to be a busy mom (and what mom isn’t), one of the best things about working from home is, well… everything. You don’t need me to tell you why staying home with the kids, saving money on daycare, and being able to run errands is a good thing. Working at home is such a good thing, it has become one of the favorite lures used by scammers. If you get unsolicited email with the words, “work at home” in the subject line, don’t even bother opening it. Following up with a work at home business opportunity is like walking into the lions den at feeding time wearing a meat suit . Just, don’t.

Home business workspace

That said, there are some legit opportunities out there. Most of them involve you taking the entrepreneurial initiative, rather than hitching a ride on someone else’s bandwagon. When you do find that work at home opportunity that is the perfect fit for you, just make sure you are ready to take advantage of it. The most important thing to remember about working at home is that it is still work. Forget that, even for a moment, and your dream job quickly becomes a nightmare. To maximize your chances of success, put these three things in place first:

A Secure Computer System

What you have may be good enough for your Facebook feed. But it is nowhere near good enough for customer data and secure transactions. People are entrusting you with their credit card information. You also have their email address, and quite possibly a username and password that they use on other sites. If your system is not secure, you just gave up a lot of sensitive, customer information. That system needs to be firewalled from as many threats as possible.

Trend Micro warns of the risks of not having the proper security software: migrating to virtual and cloud environments can expose you to security gaps, lost ROI, performance lag, and difficulty proving compliance. If your work involves medical data, compliance becomes a huge issue. You need a dedicated computer for your business, no matter how small. It also needs to be updated with the latest OS and third-party security software for handling sensitive data.

A Dedicated Work Space

If you don’t have a dedicated workspace, you have no hope of getting consistent, quality, billable work done. All of the things that makes working at home so great, are the same thing that make it so unproductive. You need a dedicated, distraction-free environment for getting things done. When your mommy blog was just a hobby, you could get away with writing a few words here and there, as opportunity presented itself. But now that you are making money from advertising and memberships, you have to be a lot more consistent.

This does not necessarily have to be a whole room in the house. It might be the corner of the dining room or living room. The important thing is that at some point during the day, that space is devoid of chaos. At all times, you need to know that what you were working on before is going to still be there when you get back. There are a number of reasons why this space is important. Don’t get started without it.

A Solid Business Plan

Business plans are not just for big businesses. You should have a business plan even if you don’t need to borrow money. You need a marketing plan. Just building it is no guarantee that they will come. You also need to get your finances in line. Even starting a business based on a free website costs money. You need to figure out that budget beforehand, not after the bills start flowing. You also need to figure out how you are going to make money. Too many companies get started without a business model. You can only live off of VC funding for so long.

It bears repeating: The thing to remember is that a work at home business is still a business, and has to be treated as such. Anything less is just an expensive hobby.