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Posts Tagged ‘home working

Spare Room Start Up coverSpare Room Start Up: How to Start a Business from Home is written by Emma Jones, the founder of Enterprise Nation, the UK’s largest website for people starting and growing a business from home. Emma also runs the Home Business Awards, produces the annual Home Business Report and advises Government on the topic of home-working, so has a fine pedigree to be writing a book on home-working.

My first impression of the book was that it would look just as good on your coffee table as it would on the bookshelf in your office. To me this book was more than just about starting a business from home – it was about making a lifestyle choice and this was illustrated beautifully by the informal photos of Emma with her family, friends and colleagues.

Like the Enterprise Nation website, the book is split into 3 categories – Business, Lifestyle and Technology. The Business section takes you step by step from getting an idea for your business and writing a business plan through to marketing your business and making that all important first sale. The Lifestyle section discusses setting up your home office, work life balance and taking care of yourself while the Technology section helps you choose the right equipment for your business, at home and when on the move, as well as a good website.

I particularly liked the Lifestyle section, which is something that doesn’t tend to be touched on by other start-up books. For a mum it is SO important to look after yourself, as you are the pivotal person in the family. So advice on eating healthily, exercising and balancing work and home are just as important as choosing the right printer or phone. I also loved the home office section. Working as I do on a laptop on my dining room table the idea of having a designated working space is heavenly to me and Emma was the first person to introduce me to the concept of ‘shed-working’, which has now become the working environment of my dreams!

Emma ends each chapter of the books with links to useful website resources. For a busy mum starting a new business it is so helpful to have someone do all the time-consuming internet research for you – and being a year down the road of my own home business I still picked up some really useful resources which I know will help me out in the future. In addition there are numerous pages of templates at the back of the book to help you write your business plan, marketing plan, press release etc…

Spare Room Start-up is a useful guide from someone who is clearly passionate about helping others achieve their home working dream. This passion is further accentuated by the numerous inspiring case studies of successful home business owners who have walked the walk and now wouldn’t dream of returning to the rat race. Other start-up books may go into finer detail about each individual topic but this may be the book you return to time and time again, as a friendly reminder that you CAN live the dream!

PH01449JNow that we have officially arrived in summer holiday territory, many of us will have calenders crammed with numerous children events, outings, meet ups, sleep overs etc…..and you may be beginning to wonder ‘How am I ever going to fit in any work?’. Most of us are self-employed because of the flexibility this affords us to be able to be with the children during their holidays. But how do you keep everything ticking along?

Nobody said it was going to be easy….but mums are incredibly clever at multi-tasking and time management, and work at home mums even more so. Try not to feel guilty about finding time to do some work – you are still spending more time with your children than normal, and it is good for them to know you have to work sometimes, and that it is for the whole family’s benefit in the long run.

So – how do you do it? Here are some ideas from us to help you squeeze in some work whilst enjoying the holidays with your offspring;

  1. Family – Grandparents and other relatives are often happy to help – sometimes they are just waiting to be asked. Even if it is a trip to the park, a picnic or going with Gran to do some shopping, children enjoy being with other people.  And you’ll be amazed at what YOU can achieve in an uninterrupted hour! 
  2. Friends – Most parents have friends with children of similar ages. Try and plan some time when you will look after each other’s children – the children enjoy having friends over and sometimes having extra children can be less work as they play together rather than needing you to entertain them. For the parents it frees up small pockets of time to get some phone calls made or other ‘work’ which is harder to do when the children are around. 
  3. Time Out – Plan ‘quiet time’ into each day at home. If you still have children who nap, excellent. If your children no longer nap there is no reason why 20 – 30minutes playing quietly in their room cannot become a normal part of the day. When everyone is home together without the pre-school/school/nursery routines, some time apart can prevent the family niggles that build up when spending so much time together. This time can be used to check and answer any important emails each day.
  4. Holiday Clubs – If you can, why not look at local holiday clubs – some have very flexible arrangements and even if it is 1 morning a week you will manage to get a huge amount achieved. It is also a good way for the children to play with other children and be entertained in a different environment. Some Local Authorities also run very low cost summer play schemes in parks for older children.
  5. Evenings – All WAHM’s are familiar with working in the evenings once the kids are in bed. If you have a supportive partner maybe they can be persuaded to take over the tea, bath & bedtime routine a couple of nights a week – that way you can get some work done – and still spend some  evening time with them.
  6. Weekends – Weekends are great for family time, but also a great time to steal a couple of quiet hours to keep the business ticking over. If you have somewhere quiet to work at home that helps. If not, persuading the rest of the family to go to the park for an hour or two will help your concentration.
  7. Planning/Lists – take a notebook with you whenever you take the kids out. Any spare time you have while they play can be turned into a great ‘list making/planning’ opportunity. You can keep one eye on them whilst jotting down ideas and things that need to be done later.
  8. TV – Whilst we are not advocating your children spend the entire summer spent watching it, it can be a valuable tool for the WAHM. If your children will sit and watch favourite programs  or a DVD  then use that time to your advantage. 
  9. Organisation – Be ultra organised – have a clear idea of what is a priority and what the minimum amount is to achieve. Use time without children around to make phone calls and do tasks that require full concentration. Use other times to work on the computer and send emails as it doesn’t matter if you get interrupted. Keep a list and enjoy ticking things off, you will be amazed at what you can achieve.
  10. Take a break! – Have a holiday yourself – you are entitled and you certainly deserve it!  If you were employed then it is likely you would be taking a break at some point.  Don’t forget the reason for working at home is to be with the children and enjoy the holiday times.

Hopefully some of the above tips will help keep your productivity levels up this summer – as well as your sanity! And if you have any good tips to share – don’t be shy – leave a comment!

CB044590Now that I work from home my wardrobe of ‘work clothes’ consists of jeans, jogging bottoms and pyjamas! This is in sharp contrast to the vast array of trouser suits and shirts I wore to the office before I had children. So now, when I go to networking meetings or to meet with potential sponsors, I face a dilemma about what to wear. I want to look professional and businesslike – but I no longer feel comfortable in (or can fit into!) the suits of days gone by. So what is the dress code for a work at home mum?

Image consultant Penny Gregory helps women to dress to look great and feel fabulous every day. ‘When you run your own business, you ARE the business,’ says Penny. ‘In the words of the famous aviator, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, “The most exhausting thing you can be is inauthentic”. So why not just be yourself? Make the most of yourself and let that shine through into your business.’

Here are some tips to help you dress to feel comfortable and confident:

  1. Do not feel you must ‘conform’ to a dress code
  2. Wear clothes which flatter your figure
  3. Choose styles which reflect your personality
  4. Wear colours that flatter you – you will instantly look healthier and more vibrant
  5. Make use of colour psychology – wearing different colours can promote difference reactions in your clients/audience
  6. Build up a capsule wardrobe for work – several garments which can be mixed and matched to provide lots of outfits
  7. Wear one or two pieces of bold or eye catching jewellery or use texture and pattern to create a little individuality
  8. Be yourself – you will feel more confident and your customers will respond to that

You can find out more about personal style and image and sign up for Penny’s newsletter at http://www.pennygregory.co.uk

42-15654381As mums we beat ourselves up about a lot of things – what our children eat, how they behave, how much TV they watch – the potential for feeling guilty is endless. Add to the pot the added guilt that Work at Home Mums feel about not spending as much time with their family and you could be heading for guilt-overload.

Guilt is a state which occurs when you believe you have done something you shouldn’t, or conversely, when you haven’t done something you think you should – and so has the potential to pretty much affect most situations! But if it IS only a state of mind, then maybe a change in perspective is all that’s needed to turn guilt on its head.

Here are some ideas about how you can turn a guilty thought into a postive one:

I feel guilty for relying on my family to help out with childcare
You are giving your child the opportunity to form a really strong bond with their dad, grandparents, aunts, uncles etc. Your child will benefit from these close relationships and you can relax knowing your child is being cared for by someone you trust and by someone who loves them as much as you do. Plus you are saving money on expensive childcare which can be spent directly on the family or channelled back into your business, making the most of the money you earn.

I feel guilty for not spending more time playing with my child
You are teaching your child how to be independent and how to use their imagination and initiative to amuse themselves, qualities that will stand them in good stead in later life. Plus the time you do spend together will be extra special to both of you.

I feel guilty for spending time on a business that isn’t making any money yet
You are building the foundations for your business. A big house needs a strong foundation, and by getting that right from the beginning you stand a greater chance of success long-term. Plus it is widely recognised that very few businesses will see a profit in the first 12-18 months, so you are not alone!

I feel guilty for not keeping on top of all the housework
In the short term you are helping your family learn about teamwork and contribution, and also to appreciate the things they would normally take for granted. By sharing out the chores your children are learning valuable life skills and in the long term, when your business is more profitable, maybe you could afford to employ a cleaner!  Plus, you are helping to build up a strong immune system in your child – a spotlessly clean house is not necessarily a healthy one!

I feel guilty for not spending more time with my partner
If like a lot of WAHMs your working day begins once the children are in bed, you may not spend the evenings together with your partner like you used to. But thinking back, were you doing anything really special with that time, or just watching TV? Make sure when you do spend time together that you try and make it really special – remember it’s Quality not Quantity!

I feel guilty for thinking about work even when I’m having ‘time off’ with the family
Without your contribution to the family income there wouldn’t be so many treats, days out etc. Your work helps to provide a certain standard of living for your family and you should be proud of your financial independence and contribution

I feel guilty for inflicting my business concerns on my partner
Men are natual problem solvers and relish the opportunity to help. Give your partner credit for being interested and wanting to support you. If he seems disinterested when you are talking about your concerns it may be the ‘way’ you are speaking and not the subject matter. Men like to get straight to the point and solve the problem – if all you want to do is offload then maybe a girlfriend IS a better person to talk to.

I feel guilty for not being able to do everything!
Nobody can! And anyone who looks like they can is just a really good actress! You are doing the very best you can with your given set of circumstances, you are being human and falliable and brave and amazing and wonderful – and don’t ever forget it!

American journalist Arianna Huffington once said “While all mothers deal with feelings of guilt, working mothers are plagued by guilt on steroids!” So more than anyone you need to retrain the way you think and learn to see your situation from a different angle – it might take a little practice but it’s amazing what a shift in perspective can do!

autumn funWorking from home presents an ideal solution for many women; being able to work between school hours, being at home if the children are poorly, fitting in some housework during the day, not paying rent for office space…..we know all the benefits. But how can we ensure that our home working is healthy?

  1. A decent office chair to ensure good posture is vital. Spending hours on a dining chair hunched over a computer, or perched on a kitchen stool is bad for backs and necks. Invest in yourself and your health and have a decent chair.
  2. Be aware of the dangers of RSI. Computers have done much to revolutionise work, but long periods of computer use without a break can be bad for backs and wrists.
  3. Good light to work in is important, without it you could suffer headaches and eye strain.  Arrange your working space in a room with a window where possible. Although being able to see out can be distracting, natural daylight is far superior to artificial. If you work in the evenings then good artificial lighting is essential.
  4. Working from home, the kettle and biscuit tin are constantly available. It is very easy to be drinking more caffeine than you realise and snacking throughout the day on biscuits and sugary snacks. Try and set a time for a morning and afternoon ‘break’ when you have tea or coffee and drink water in between. If you start the day with a good breakfast and eat lunch then you will be less tempted to snack.
  5. Have a proper break. Working from home it is very tempting to just keep going to fit in as much as possible in the time you have.  Having a break allows important time to re-focus and re-energise.
  6. Working at home often means sitting at the computer and talking on the phone. Exercise is vital to help keep your energy levels up, strengthen your immune system and will release powerful ‘feel good’ endorphins.

Always remember, the most important element in your busy life is YOU – take care of yourself and then you can take care of everything (and everybody) else!


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