Significant Others + Business = ?

One question I get on a regular basis:

Is your husband supportive of you working from home?

The short answer is yes.

Generally, the follow up to that question:

Has he always been supportive of it?

Boundaries from the Beginning

When Bull and I first started dating, I did not work from home. I worked for a heat and air company as an office manager. This was right before I started teaching at a technical college. Just an FYI that Bull and I were friends and got to know each other for several months before anything every happened between the two of us, but that’s a story for some other time.

Anyway, one of our mutual interests was (and is) writing. Of course, back then (2012), I hadn’t really even thought about writing as a profession being much more than a pipe dream. I had my novel. I liked writing. He knew I was published. He knew I wanted to publish more.

In addition to working for the HVAC business, I had a small bankruptcy prep business. I had a lot of connections with Trustees from my previous work as a Bankruptcy Analyst. The dream (at that time) was to be a virtual paralegal.

We talked about different aspects of being in a relationship. We both have children with someone else. We didn’t live together. I’m a fairly open person when I know someone. I told him he could have input in every area but two: my children (they were teenagers and they didn’t need anyone trying to step in) and my business. With my business, he could have an opinion when I talked about things. Everyone is entitled to their opinion…and you never know where that next new idea might come from, you know? But as far as actual decision making? No.

Moving Forward to Professional Writing

We moved in together right after we got engaged. I already had an apartment. He moved in with me before we found a bigger place. I taught college and also picked up part time real estate paralegal work (titles, abstracts, federal land, etc). And then I started looking into how to get started as a professional writer.

We talked about it, but not in great detail. He knew I wasn’t just going to up and quit my jobs until I could make that amount of money. I actually dropped teaching first (they weren’t paying me to teach legal classes anywhere near what they paid any of the general education teachers or the previous instructor AND program manager, roles I fulfilled) and starting building my business while still working in the law firm.

It was a small office. The two lawyers knew what I was doing. They didn’t care as long as I did what I needed to do there. Bull and I discussed parameters surrounding when I would stop at the firm and what that would mean…

I stopped working for the firm for two reason: stress was making AFib worse (between the ex and one of the lawyers who had a personality very similar to the ex) and because I was turning down so much work from platforms and potential clients that I was LOSING money. No bueno.

When I created my business, it had the same basic rule as the last one: we can talk about stuff…especially since we’re married, and you are certainly entitled to your opinion. He tried freelancing for a while, too. He worked some with me. He found a couple of his own clients. He learned pretty quick it wasn’t for him, but he also recognized that it is a real job.

What Should You Do If You Don’t Have a Supportive Significant Other?

First, you have to recognize that everyone is entitled to their opinions and feelings. If you’re just now dating someone and you work and you’re building a business, you need some clear boundaries about, “This is what I do and it is mine.”

If you ask for an opinion or advice, don’t get pissed off if you hear something you don’t like.

Second, stand firm, but don’t be a dick. If someone starts berating you and gets abusive, leave. Get out of the relationship. That person has probably always been that way toward you and you’ve made excuses for it. And now that you want to follow your dreams, it’s a threat to their position of power in your life. So snatch back your power and GTFO.

So, what about if you’re married and you’re just now starting a business? If they are abusive, leave. If they are unsure or just don’t seem to care, that’s fine. You do you, but don’t make them (or your family) play second fiddle. You’d be all kinds of upset if they did that to you.

I started working from home for more money, physical security, and to be home with the now almost 10 year old. Daycare / before school / after school care is no place for a child who is non-verbal. I have very strong opinions about daycare and I know you don’t want to hear them so I will spare you there.

Usually, when people talk about starting or having a business, they think about freedom…but then they end up so wrapped up in it (because it is a lot of work regardless of the type of business) they get miserable and they make their family miserable…and if their SO or family wants their attention? It’s WW III. Don’t do that. Set times you can and will work. Stick to it. And if you’re a “freedom” and “more time with the family,” those are your highest values. If you don’t live up to them, you will become miserable and quit.

If you don’t have a support SO and they aren’t abusive, examine what you’re doing. Decide if it is taking away from them. Decide if it is taking away from your family. Those are things YOU can fix by readjusting how YOU operate. Decide if it is really what you want to do. Decide if it really makes you happy. And…keep building. Generally as your happiness improves and your SO can see it isn’t a money-sink (and most businesses do cost money to build during the first few years, but you don’t have to be stupid about it or take out loans in most cases), they either learn to better tolerate it or they become more supportive.

WAH Rule #856: Harsh Truth: Outsourcing May Not Correct Your Lack of Productivity

As I sit here listening to a podcast about productivity for entrepreneurs, I am certainly not surprised to hear the guest and the host mention outsourcing not just business things you need done, but also personal responsibilities like cleaning. While I wholeheartedly agree with the base concept, I must correct something the host mentioned.

She stated that she and her husband hired someone to come in a few hours a month to do the deep cleaning that they don’t have time to do. Something that I can empathize with. It was her lack of logic that twisted my brain. She stated they did it because of how much time it would free up for them to focus more on their business.

Outsourcing to Free Up Time

Outsourcing to free up time is common. Outsourcing is also both a convenience and a necessity for many. However, outsourcing does not free up your time from a certain project…if you weren’t working on that project to begin with.

And It’s Not about Freeing Up Mental Space

Your brain creates an unlimited universe for you. Outsourcing something you’re not doing doesn’t free up any mental space. It relieves your self-imposed guilt. It gives you a reason to think you can be more mindful with what you believe is a better use of your time.

Yet, if you can’t be mindful now on this most important project that you’re doing instead of doing X, it’s likely that the X isn’t the problem. You are the problem. Your intimidation toward the important project is your problem. Your procrastination is your problem. Your lack of follow-through is your problem.

Your lack of self-honesty through self-assessment is your problem. It is not mental space. You will not focus any better just because you’ve outsourced something else. You’ll find something else to fill your thoughts instead of fully engaging in the project in front of you.

Saying No to Unethical Requests

Work at home life has a unique set of challenges. One of those challenges is making sure that you have enough work to pay your bills and have a comfortable existence. The thought of not having enough money can make any work at home soul cringe. It’s nice and (almost) esoteric to fall into the “I don’t need to make a lot of money – I do this cause I love it!” routine. Read more

WAH Rule #117 – It’s About Agile Thought

There aren’t any shortcuts to work at home success. While many people are certainly more productive when they work from home, working from home is still work. Various articles related to productivity state that people who work from home get more done and we often work more than our more traditional counterparts.

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What sets the successful apart? Why do some clients return to their contractors over and over again? The answer is agile thought. Hiring a work from home contractor saves a business money on various overhead expenses. And, you know, there’s that productivity thing I mentioned. Yet,the real reason we’re successful is agile mental acuity. We have the ability to quickly assess a situation and come up with a solution. We’re able to isolate problems and determine the best course of action. Why? It’s a mix of experience, talent, and the fact that we know we don’t always have access to the client to ask a question. This leads to the development of problem solving skills that are quickly implemented.

To participate in The Daily Post’s prompt of the day, just visit the site and get the prompt, and then…link to the original prompt to show up in the feed.

Work from Home Ethics & Etiquette

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Ethics

  1. Abide by city, state, and federal laws because a law suit is really the last thing that you want or need to deal with when it comes to business. For instance, did you know that in some towns you can’t run certain types of businesses from your home? Some cities or states may require you to have a certain type of license to run a specific kind of business. It doesn’t matter whether you think the law is stupid.
  2. Respect client confidentiality. You may or may not sign an NDA with your client. Even if you don’t, remember the golden rule and treat others how you want to be treated. If you’d like to share something related to their project, get the permission of the client.
  3. Be honest and upfront with clients and potential clients. No one likes a liar.
  4. Be respectful with your words and actions toward your clients and prospective clients. Not everyone is going to be a good fit. You can part ways amicably. Remember that the entire world is watching you on social media. Everything you say and do even on your personal accounts is subject to scrutiny. You’re free to say what you want, but you won’t be free of the consequences.
  5. Be honest in your advertising or description of services.
  6. Stay away from slang words and misleading phrases.
  7. Deliver on time, every time. The only exception is delivering early.
  8. Clear, concise, and professional communication with clients, potential clients, former clients, and other providers.
  9. Use contracts that are fair to everyone involved.
  10. Stay committed to education.
  11. Stay committed to excellence.
  12. Uphold your promises and agreements.

Etiquette

  1. Act like a professional. I realize we live in the information age and people want everything now. That’s no excuse for being unprofessional. That’s no excuse for treating people poorly. Remember that others who work from home are your colleagues. You may need a reference or you may want people to send you overflow work. That’s not going to happen if you’re unprofessional. Don’t act in a demeaning way toward clients or potential clients…or anyone else. Not only is it rude, it can also affect your business in the long run.
  2. Be courteous. Basic courtesy can go a long way in growing your business.
  3. Don’t talk down to anyone. Clients have a choice. They can find another provider.
  4. Keep semi-regular hours. I know that part of the draw to working from home is flexibility. I know I appreciate being able to set my own hours. Remember that many of your clients already keep regular hours and they need to know when they can talk to you.
  5. Be honest about your policies. If you plan to act as a middle man and outsource all your projects to others, make sure that clients know and that they are okay with this. Otherwise, you could hurt your reputation.
  6. Respect the time of others. Your day is no more or no less important than that of anyone else. While long-term clients may be very understanding of a day where your child is sick, it’s really not the problem of your clients and I’d bet a nickel that you could have avoided missing a deadline by better time management earlier during the project. One of the ways you can respect the time of others (and your own time) is by setting up a schedule and sticking to it. When school is in session, my work hours are 9 am to 3 pm. That’s six hours of uninterrupted time. During the summer, I get up before anyone else and work. I also work throughout the day.
  7. Stay on top of your email and reply where necessary. Triage and trash. Triage your email to determine if you need to respond or put it on a to-do list. Trash what you don’t need. Clients and others you work with shouldn’t have to wait days or weeks to hear back from you because you lost an email.
  8. Understand what your responsibilities are and uphold them. If a client or other work from home professional sends you a project, you get on the same page about the requirements. You ask questions where necessary. You adhere to what they say they need done. If they say no outsourcing, then you do it yourself. Anything less than upholding your responsibilities is a form of dishonesty.