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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  • [email protected]

    Such a great post, Amy. You definitely do a lot, and do it so well! Thanks for sharing how you manage the work/life ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Rachel

    Thanks for this article, Amy. it's great to hear another woman's perspective on how she balances her life. I am so grateful for the opportunity to work from home and for all of the new devices like blackberries and laptops that make it possible to be 3 places at once!

  • Kerrin @ MyKugelhopf.ch

    thank you so much for sharing these inside tips. i don't have any children (yet), but do work out of my home. and totally agree about so many points above.

    also just wanted to say that (my sweet tooth and) i have been admiring your work and blog for a long time. decided to leave a comment today ! what a dream it would be to put together a dessert buffet with you one day… cheers from switzerland ! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Party Box Design

    I work from home and LOVE IT!

  • Rebeca

    This is great! This is an issue that I have been facing. I recently started a home baking business and although I am working at home I sometimes feel as if I struggle making time for my children. However, it still beats working away from them.

    -Rebeca, from Guam

  • Linnette

    This is great advice! Thank you Amy! I run 2 design based companies from home with a toddler keeping me company all day!

  • Bea @ CancunCookies

    Great Post, Amy… My children still look at me as a stay-at-home-mom, as I work at home… it is very hard for them to understand I'm working now… I need a sign that can let them know when mom is available and when I'm working…

  • You’re Invited Gifts, Paper, Events

    Amy, Thanks for this post. As a working mom, I'm always looking for helpful tips/advice, especially from someone so successful! Keep the great advice coming.

  • Pam @ PartyStart.Me

    I so appreciate this post. I am recently new WAHM and have been trying to find a "balance". I was doing rather well until Summer break started, now its a whole new balance. Thanks so much for sharing!!

  • Kim – The TomKat Studio

    Great post, Amy! I run my business from home and it is wonderful! I am lucky to be home with my two little ones and do what I love! It can be a struggle to find a perfect balance, but I'm working on it!

  • Courtney

    Love this. Glad to hear that even you have to hide from your kids sometimes! ๐Ÿ˜‰ It is very tough to find balance. All three of my kids are under five and therefore home with me ALL day. I do think though that it's the best of both worlds.

  • Donna Maria @ Indie Business

    Thanks for this wonderful post! My husband and I run a business together from home and it is quite a juggle. Our kids are 6 and 8 and so it's all they've ever known. I feel that we are empowering them to do the same one day. After all, this is the direction our nation is headed when it comes to family and work life. The economy, the employment statistics and many more factors point to the notion that people who don't work this way on some level will soon be in the minority.

  • A Blissful Nest

    I love to hear that someone else goes and "hides". I thought mayeb that was just me!! Thank you for your reassuring tips and advise!!

  • Anonymous

    Amy, not only is your site full of inspirational ideas but your "how to juggle a business out of the home" tips are fabulous and very useful! Thanks for sharing.
    Dalia

  • Queen of Tarts Cakes

    Amy, I totally relate! I started a home baking business last year and have a toddler who is not in school just yet but is SO ready. I end up doing most of my work after he gets to bed at 9pm and sometimes am pulling all nighters to get jobs done because I have to watch him all day. Looking forward to his starting school so this can improve and I can do more in a local commercial kitchen that is available for me to rent on larger baking jobs.

  • Brandi

    Thank you so much for the advice. Right now I'm trying to balance an 8 to 5 while working on my business. It's definitely a lot of work, but I'm having a great time. Your tips definitely let me know I'm heading in the right direction and that's a great feeling.

  • Ann Chen of รƒย  la soirรƒยฉe

    Thanks for sharing, Amy. Just what I needed : ) I'd love to share some of my favorite cafes with you next time you're in SF. Cheers!

  • MixMingleGlow

    Great article Amy! I'm thankful the days of working from home as a sign of an unsuccessful business are long gone. I jokingly tell my clients that just like the President of the United States, I too work from home! ๐Ÿ™‚ Over the past 3 years my three daughters have learned so much from watching me work out of my own home studio. Not only do I catch them imitating me at their own desks, but they love to come help me with little projects. I love to be home when they walk in the door after school and although it has been a learning process for all of us, I am thankful that I don't have to worry about the financial pressures of having a separate office!

  • Fort Worth Auto Glass Repair

    The flowers are very nice. And it is great example how a woman handles or balances her life.

  • Inkspot Workshop

    Oh so true! Thanks for this article. Not only do I have my side business from my home, my {day} job is also from home. For Mother's Day my 4 year old son made a flower with pretty petals, each one representing a statement where he had to fill in the blank of his mommy…the one that made me cry/giggle not sure how to take it? was…"My mommy likes to" he filled in "work" ๐Ÿ™‚

    I did this post on the subject of work/life balance last year http://inkspotworkshopblog.blogspot.com/2009/03/balance.html

    Keep up the great work Amy!

  • Inkspot Workshop

    Oh so true! Thanks for this article. Not only do I have my side business from my home, my {day} job is also from home. For Mother's Day my 4 year old son made a flower with pretty petals, each one representing a statement where he had to fill in the blank of his mommy…the one that made me cry/giggle not sure how to take it? was…"My mommy likes to" he filled in "work" ๐Ÿ™‚

    I did this post on the subject of work/life balance last year http://inkspotworkshopblog.blogspot.com/2009/03/balance.html

    Keep up the great work Amy!

  • Do you have a helper/maid at home? I have 2 kids, 4yo boy and 6mo girl. I always feel I am neglecting them especially my boy when I am making orders.

  • Thanks for this post – I am glad to see that I am not the only one who struggles with this. I have just started a baking business from home and it has taken off very quickly and I am still trying to figure out how to “do it all”. I have a extremely spirited 4yr old and a 6yr old. Now that they are home for the summer I had to close my shop for the month of July so I could spend some time with them and research how to balance all the areas of my life. Would love to hear more advice from others that are in this same position. btw – LOVE, LOVE, your work!!

  • Thank You for sharing this incredible post with us. I am trying to learn the balance between my very needy two year old and my very needy business…. but I am grateful and thrilled to be able to do what I love and be around the little girl that I adore…. Thanks, I am printing and posting on my board.

    Thank You Thank You!!!

  • Great advice. This seems to be one of the main concerns for women in the workforce today. Can’t wait to read your article about striking that perfect (or perhaps not so perfect) balance of work and family life! It’s great that you are able to maintain your creative outlets and raise a family simultaneously! One question, do you use a nanny or babysitter often?

    Thanks for posting your lovely workโ€”so inspiring.

    -Almira

  • Kimberly

    Amy, thanks so much. I am reading your article in December 2010 edition of Oprah and it truly awakened my spirit to what I want to do. I want to truly have lived MY life and be a blessing to my children and many in the world. I am a single mother of two, 14 year old daughter and 2 year old son, and starting my own business has been a passion of mine for so many years. NOW after reading your blog and article, it is TIME to move into my destiny. Thank you for sharing.