Running a Biz From Home

by | Mar 9, 2008 | Advice

Geez…I hope I’m not breaking some sort of copyright law by doing this, but I’m gonna post an article I saw on the Wall Street Journal Online Edition.  I’m a big fan of the WSJ, but refuse to read the NY Times for reasons that are beyond the scope of this blog.

Anyway, back to the article, written by Kelly K. Spors.  I don’t know K. Spors, but I like the article, and the suggestions made are directly applicable to the business of Voice-Acting.  So with full credit to Spors and the WSJ, I hope you’ll enjoy this article:


Run Your Home Like an Office


Renee O’Brien of Pottstown, Pa., was excited to work
from home when she became an independent distributor for a women’s
slumber-party hosting company in 2005.

But the transition wasn’t as easy as she expected:
Friends would call while she was working, assuming she had ample time
to chat. And she’d find herself trying to squeeze in household chores
like washing dishes during her work hours.

To keep herself in check, she now carefully schedules
her work time using Microsoft Outlook’s calendar feature, and keeps an
egg timer next to her desk to limit time spent on tasks like phone
calls and checking email to 15 or 30 minutes.

"The timer startles me enough to say, ‘OK, enough time on that,’ " the 43-year-old Ms. O’Brien says.

Running a business from home isn’t always as
liberating as it sounds. With all the distractions of home, like young
kids, errands and dirty dishes, competing for attention, many
home-based entrepreneurs find managing their time and concentrating on
work particularly daunting.

But business coaches say there are ways that
entrepreneurs can make working from home a more successful experience.
Here are some suggested solutions.

Have a Detailed Plan

It’s tempting to treat working from home informally,
since nobody’s watching over your shoulder. But that’s an easy way to
fall off track, says Alvah Parker, a Swampscott, Mass., career
transition coach.

She suggests at-home entrepreneurs write a detailed
business plan that includes not just projections for the business
itself, but also specifics on how you’ll manage working from home. This
includes laying out a regular work schedule and describing in advance
how you’ll handle specific scenarios, such as if a friend or relative
calls during working hours or your child interrupts during an important
phone call. You might even designate a time during the day or evening
for household tasks, errands or recreational activities you’d otherwise
be tempted to do during work hours.

Be realistic. You don’t want to build a business plan
where you’re planning for more work hours than you can handle or
ignoring obvious interruptions that are going to detract from your work
time. One option: Assume that times when young kids are awake will be
less productive, and plan to get the bulk of work done during nap times
or when the kids are being watched by someone else.

And now the hard part: sticking to the plan. Many
entrepreneurs find keeping separate to-do lists for work and home
chores helps manage their time and keep the two psychologically

But it’s also about forcing yourself to leave the
office at the scheduled time each day, since it’s tempting for
home-based workers to constantly be ducking in and out of work, even
late into the night.

"Working at home requires you be very disciplined and
really know what you have to do and when," Ms. Parker says. "That’s why
the plan is so important."

Broadcast Your Plan

As much as you adhere to your own grand plan, it’s not
always easy getting other family members or friends on board. They
might see you as accessible and available to run errands, chat or do
chores since you’re conveniently based at home.

It’s often just a matter of letting family know your
regular work hours and that you expect to be working during those
times. Geoff Kulesa, the 37-year-old owner of a four-employee
sports-betting prediction company in Golden, Colo., discovered this
when he started working full-time on his business at home in 2005. He
often had to hush his three young sons while taking customer calls or
ask them to go downstairs when they were running around the house.

But once they got accustomed to knowing when Dad needed to work, "it wasn’t such a big problem," Mr. Kulesa says.

Some at-home entrepreneurs shut their doors during
work hours or put a sign up when they need to not be interrupted, such
as during an important phone call.

Find Your Own Space

Where your office is located in the home can play a
big role in how distracted you become. Ideally, office space should be
removed from the hustle and bustle of the home and in a separate room,
with a door that shuts.

Moreover, it’s best to keep a separate business phone
line — one the kids aren’t permitted to answer — and office equipment
so you’re not jockeying for time with other family members and there’s
less chance you’ll be spending time answering personal calls during the

Outsource Duties

One way to stifle the urge to do nonwork tasks is hiring someone else to do them.

Particularly for home-based entrepreneurs with young
kids, getting in-home childcare for at least part of the workweek or
taking kids to day care occasionally can keep you from being torn
between work and home responsibilities, says Lesley Spencer Pyle,
founder of Home-Based Working Moms, a Spring, Texas-based online
community for mothers who work from home.

Also getting a housekeeper to come once a week to keep
things orderly can free up work time you might otherwise be tempted to
spend cleaning house. She adds: "You sort of have to pre-think out
situations that might prevent you from getting your work done."

Kelly Spors covers small business for The Wall Street Journal.

Email: [email protected]




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