I get a BIG chuckle out of experts who preach the joys of working from home. Magazines often feature a photo of a nicely dressed model with her full attention focused on a client on the phone. Her equally nicely-dressed child quietly explores an educational toy on the floor beside her.
That’s never the way it works at my house. As I write this from home, my 15 year-old is bouncing a basketball off the outside of my office, my 12 year-old is blaring her new Back Street Boys CD, the kindergartner has just let the neighbor’s dog into the living room, and my toddler is trying to climb onto my shoulders while attempting to shut the computer off.
Experts advise this isn’t the way a successful work-at-home business is supposed to operate. The professional home-worker is told to make clients think she is in a big, plush office in a mirror-covered professional building. “Never allow noise from kids and pets and never answer the phone ‘hello.’ Clients won’t take you seriously,” they write. Uh oh, I’m in trouble.
Let’s be realistic for a second. Of the six million North Americans who work from their houses, I’ll bet more than half have noisy kids, dogs, and unfolded laundry competing for their attention. Yet, studies routinely show work-at-homers often get as much or more done than those in the office.
Here are a few ideas to help you succeed with a home business when you have lots of family responsibilities to deal with at the same time:
1. Don’t worry about kids interrupting a phone call. Being there for family is cool these days. The vast majority of business people wish THEY were at home with their kids.
More often than not, when a small voice starts demanding a popsicle in the middle of an important negotiation, the client on the other end will be delighted. “Are you working at home? How neat! Isn’t it wonderful that you can be there for your kids,” your client will say.
2. Working non-stop with full concentration is only for people locked in a corporate office. Get used to working in a start-and-stop fashion. When you see your work is about to be interrupted, don’t stop at a natural place. Stop in the middle. It will help you get re-started when time allows.
The feeling you MUST be constantly productive at all times is a recent invention of our industrial societies. The majority of the world’s people are much more laid back. Take a little more time to get a project finished. Oddly, your productivity will increase.
3. If you are a firm of one, promote your one-ness to the world. Every customer wants to feel like they can talk to the person in charge. That’s never a problem for people who do business with you. Think of all the big corporations that strive to be identified with their founder. Microsoft has Bill Gates, KFC has the Colonel, and Wendy’s has Dave. They spend millions to insure you identify their mammoth corporation with a single individual in charge.
4. Get over the idea that TV is bad for kids. It is a popular, healthy, worthwhile activity when used wisely in moderate doses. Most of TV’s criticism is perpetrated by people who sell books. There are a lot of terrifically educational TV programs and videos that kids love to watch. Plan to get a project underway while the kids (we’ll include spouses, too) engage in some quality TV consumption.
A few hundred years ago people ALWAYS worked with their kids under foot. It was only when business became dominated by factories that workers were forced to leave their children at home (and even then, it took at least 100 years to make workers change).
You certainly CAN be a success working at home while taking care of children–even if your children are rowdy, noisy, and demanding. The articles I’ve written (which are read by 1 million people each week) were all written with various children sleeping on my lap, pulling my hair, or trying to delete the file.
I earn a good living working at home and YOU CAN TOO! Just don’t expect me to always pick up the phone when you call. It’s not that I don’t want to talk with you, but probably that my 2 year-old has just swiped my keys and is heading for the garage.
Dr. Kevin Nunley provides marketing advice and copywriting. See his 10,000 marketing ideas and popular promotion packages at http://DrNunley.com Reach Kevin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 801-328-9006.