Jun 17, 2010

Ask Amy: Working Out Of Home

By: Amy Atlas, in Ask Amy, Kids

My older son picking up flowers with me at the flower market for a party.

I’m working on a magazine article about the balance of work/owning a business and it made me think that it would be good to share a little advice about that here. As most of you know, my husband and I have two kids and our third kid is my business (my husband also happens to have his own successful gig). I get a lot of emails from moms about how to balance work and family, especially if moms are starting their business out of their own home. I wanted a work studio next to my home because it’s important for me to be close to my kids during the day. However, because my kids know well how to pop in and out of my work space, it can sometimes be a struggle. For moms out there who are contemplating or doing it, you already know what I’m talking about.

It is great for a few reasons…
(1) It allows you to be around/available for your kids while you are at work;
(2) It keeps overhead low (I’m a big fan of that) and then you can pass off savings to your clients;
(3) Your kids can see you as a working parent;
(4)You can enlist your kids as extra help (just kidding), but they certainly may gain an interest in what you do (see picture above);
(4) The commute isn’t so bad:-)

BUT, there are some hard parts about it as well..most importantly, # (1) above. Overall, it works for my situation, but there are times when I am tempted to run faaarrr away! My staff jokes with me that I am sometimes like the cartoon “Where’s Waldo.” They’ll find me in bizarre places on important calls. Lisa, who also happens to live in the same building {yes, it is like a reality show}, has found me on calls in the stairwell, in our prop closet, on the floor behind my desk. I amaze them all of the time with my hiding spots!

Overall, starting your business out of your home (or close to your home) is smart if you can follow these guidelines:
(1) Set very strict deadlines for your day. If your kids are coming home in the afternoon, be very efficient in the morning. Alternatively, if your baby is napping in the afternoon, be efficient at that time.
(2) Set specific times that you can meet with clients or make calls. Of course, try to be flexible for your clients, but try to work within your set times. Most clients will not be understanding about screaming kids in the background:-)
(3) Take breaks at points throughout your day so you can get away from your neighborhood and space. You would be amazed at how much this helps!
(These tips can apply even if you don’t have kids, but are working out of your home)

I’ll talk about the overall balance of family and business in another post since I get lots of those questions as well. I hope this is helpful for all of you starting your own business!

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