Fresh out of college at 23, she thought she’d done something wrong when the wholesaler for her stationery company assigned her a personal representative.
“In reality I was doing so much business with them that they wanted to ensure my satisfaction,” says Christine, a serial entrepreneur who has created dozens of successful home-based businesses for herself and others. She shares practical how-to advice in her new book, “Home Business Startup Bible,” (http://richmombusiness.com/).
She was the busy mother of a 2-year-old and she’d just returned home – to the mess left in the wake of last-minute packing — when the rep showed up, she says.
“I was mortified when he walked into my home/business and he was shocked, but the experience marked my first success as an official business,” she says. “It was actually the beginning of a great relationship.”
Though it turned out well, Christine says her first years in business would have been much happier if she hadn’t had to deal with her own painful feelings of self-doubt, embarrassment, guilt, etc.
“The good news is – no stay-at-home entrepreneur needs to feel that way,” she says.
She offers these tips for maintaining professionalism in business without sacrificing – or feeling guilty about — family.
• Don’t apologize for your kids. We need to stop apologizing for our kids’ squawks and energy while we’re on the phone or in meetings. Kids are kids and to them, Mommy is Mommy and their home is their home 24/7. If anything, we can all learn from our children and lighten up during business chats.
• Don’t pick up the phone when you’re not ready. I used to think I had to say yes to everyone, including the telephone whenever it rang. Don’t answer the phone if you’re not ready to speak; if it’s important, the caller will leave a message. Consider an online chat system for your website; I use a free one via craftysyntax.com.
• Add a disclosure message to your call-answering service. My disclosure indicates the quickest way to reach me, which is chat or email. Email is quickly becoming everyone’s preferred method of communication anyway, and this way, we all have a digital trail that will help us stay organized.
• Say no and don’t apologize for it. You can say no to lots of things, like PTA meetings and extra bake sales for your kids’ school. When you say yes to those things, you are saying no to your business. You have to think of your new business as if you are your own boss. Would you ask your boss for a day off so you can sell cupcakes? Probably not.
• Pick a neutral location. If you need to have business meetings in person, I suggest choosing a neutral place like a coffee shop. Don’t allow them to come to your home and, if you can avoid it, don’t go to their office. If you’re negotiating, this can give them a home-field advantage.
• Just say it. I continue to attend trade shows. When I tell companies that I work from home, they might give me an indifferent attitude and hastily move on to chat up a brick-and-mortar owner. I simply take my business elsewhere; I know the value of my business, and so will another vendor.