4 Ways the Work at Home Parent Teaches Success by Example

applesThere are many advantages to being a work-at-home parent. At the top of the list are freedom, and being there for your kids. But one often overlooked benefit is that you’re teaching your kids how to succeed – by example.

The majority of the folks I know who work from home, are following their dreams and doing what they love. So what does that teach your kids?

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3 Valuable Lessons from 1st Grade Career Day

bat-manYou can learn a great deal from entering a first grade class – the majority of it from the kids. Today I went into my daughter’s class to talk about what I do for a living. The idea of course, is to educate them about different occupations – but I ended up taking away some important lessons myself. Things I already know to be true, but that were reaffirmed by viewing them from the eyes of a 6 or 7 year old.

1 – It’s All About the Passion

Kids naturally want to do what they are passionate about. They understand this at a very basic level, something we as adults could really use a dose of. One of the key points I continually preach about here and whenever I talk about work, is the importance of passion and talent. If you have a passion for something and you can find a way to share that in a way that benefits others, you will be successful. That is guaranteed.

2 – Make Your Message Fit the Audience

One of my favorite movie lines is from Denzel Washington’s character in the move Philadelphia – “Now, explain it to me like I’m a four-year-old.” Talking about my various jobs – Web and software, writing, speaking, cartooning – I bet you can guess which one was the most interest to the first graders. I focused a majority of my talk on the cartooning work I do, and then explained the other stuff in a way they would understand. Kids are extremely smart and inquisitive. I was floored by some of the incredibly insightful questions they asked. But I toned down much of the message to meet them at their level. Then I let them bring it back up to a point were they were learning and understanding. When it comes to explaining what you offer, remember to make the message fit the audience. If you can easily explain your marketing message to a kid, then your prospects will have no problem getting it. Your customers should feel enlightened by your message, not stupid.

3 – Details Can Spark a Conversation

Kids notice details. They take the time to really see things and notice little nuances. The fact that all of my cartoon characters had one big eye and one little eye was both funny and interesting to them. It sparked a conversion on personal style, that led to unique abilities and the way we all view the world. It wasn’t planned, but was wonderful. Many times we go into a meeting or event with a preconceived notion of what will happen. What we’ll say, do, and our oh, so important elevator speech. But many of the best and most lucrative conversations stem from those minor details, those little things we don’t even notice sometimes. After hearing the same boring networking conversations, having a real discussion about some interesting little detail can really launch a relationship. Take the time to notice the minor details when talking to others. Just the fact that you noticed sometimes is enough to create a new energy in an otherwise boring conversation.

So What Did I Take Away From This?

That approaching our work with a child-like wonder can be extremely valuable? That SpongeBob seems to be universally loved? That one child’s dog is named Daisy, too, or that another’s cousin lives in Texas, like I did at one time? That folks like reading cute stories with kids in it? Yes, to all of those. But the best lesson was this – apparently I didn’t learn everything I needed to know in kindergarten. First grade, it seems, has a lot to offer too.

WAHOO Getaway – Your Home Office Away From Home

wahoo-getawayWorking from home, to me, is the only way to work. The freedom, the family time, and the environment are just few of the perks. There’s nothing quite like working away in your lounge pants, favorite t-shirt, and worn-out hat. But there are times when cabin fever sets in, or the noise and distractions get to be a little too much. It’s at these times when I escape to what I began calling my WAHOO getaway – my Work-At-Home Offsite Office.

Choosing a WAHOO

If you work from home, you would probably benefit from a WAHOO. It’ll help you keep your sanity when you need to get out, but still need to work. Your offsite office can be a local café, a favorite park, a pizza place, the library, a shared office space, anywhere that you can go on a regular basis to get out of the house, but still be productive.

Every person will have their own needs when choosing an offsite office. I tend to gravitate towards cafés and restaurants. I know lots of folks who prefer outdoor places, like parks. Whatever the place, the key is to make sure it has what you need to get some work done. Things I usually look for are…

Good Coffee

I make pretty good coffee at home, so if I’m going to plunk down 2 bucks for a cup, it better be good. I know, you’re thinking – two bucks? Yeah, I get the regular drip stuff, preferably an organic, shade grown, dark roast. No dessert drinks for me. I prefer good flavor on a cheap budget.

Free WiFi

Most of the time, I need an internet connection if I’m working. I’ll be writing and need to research stuff or to IM. But on many occasions I’ll turn off email and IM when at a café to avoid distractions.

Tables and Space

Many places cater to those who need to work, so the tables, chairs and space available is ideal for the mobile worker. Some prefer a corner table. Others may like the big plush chair. Being able to get comfortable and settle in is important.

Power Outlets

This may seem trivial, but many places only have one or two outlets to plug in to when your battery is low. I’ve seen guys who bring their own power strip so they could share the one outlet available.


This is more a personal taste thing, but I like comfortable spots that tend to be quiet and soothing. Some places are more conducive to groups of workers, and I can only take so much of a corporate offsite that thinks their company’s plans should be heard by all. “Wow, I’m sure your PowerPoint with the 10 paragraphs of 6 point type is swell and all, but I try to avoid the stuff you’re yapping about like a pox.”

Having a place to go not only gets you out of the house, but gives you the opportunity to interact with other people – and often the best way to work through a creative block is to change the scenery.

Think about what would make the ideal offsite office for you – and plan your own WAHOO getaway.

Footnote – I’d be remiss it I didn’t mention how good the other kind of Wahoo can be. Tasty… ;)

5 Ways to Overcome the Home Business Blues, Blahs, and Burnout

Why the heck am I doing this? What’s the point? I’m so sick of this $%#@!

spinning-platesThere comes a time in every home-based business life when you reach the point of blah. It has happened to every single person I’ve talked to who runs a home-based business. I, myself, know it well. Maybe you’ve hit what I call the Futility Factor, the point where you’re busting your hump and not seeing any results – working 16+ hours a day, seven days a week, for months to get your business off the ground. Or you’re a few years into it, and things are just getting stale. There are lots of reasons why it happens. The key is to know what to do, when it does.

Just Be With It

Your first option is to do nothing. Just be with your mood – wallow in it, feel it, accept it. Now granted, this is not the usual kind of advice for this stuff. But sometimes, it’s nice just to be with your funk. Churchill called it his black dog. Charles Schulz, the creator of Peanuts, used his melancholy moods to inspire his work. Don’t be afraid to be in a crappy mood once in a while – especially when it relates to your business. Running a home-based business is hard and you’re bound to get down about it. If it’s not a common thing, just sit with your cranky self. Sometimes it’s nice to give yourself permission to be in a foul mood. Enjoy it.

Go Back To Why

There’s a good reason why you decided to go into business for yourself in the first place. You set out on this road with a mission. During times of bad mojo, it helps to go back to that “why.” I’m guessing you’re a pretty smart person. You didn’t just jump into a home-based business without a plan. And even if you did, there was still a reason for it. Sit in a comfy chair, lie on the couch, or curl up in a ball on the floor, and think back to what it was like when you started. What drove you? Why did you make the decisions you did? Hopefully you are following your passion, so those feelings of excitement start flowing back in. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day, and the BS that comes with running your own business. It’s important to regularly get back to that place of why you are here, and why you’re doing this. That initial spark can help get you back into full-flame mode.

Be of Service to Others

Many times, it’s helpful to stop making it all about you. I often find that the business blahs stem from the “poor me’s.” By stopping and thinking of how you can be of service to others, you interrupt that thinking, and start to see how what you’re doing is benefiting others. Again, I’m working off the assumption that you are doing something you love, that you have talent for, and that is providing value to others. If you’re running a pyramid scheme just to get rich, this ain’t going to help you. But if you are pursuing your dream, and contributing something of value, then chances are, what you’re doing is benefiting someone else. Ask yourself “how can I be of service to others?” That question alone is often enough to snap you out of your doldrums. Then follow that tread. Think of all the ways your business is providing a service to your fellow Earthlings. It’s a great feeling, and can give you a real boost to move forward.

Take the Day Off

If you’ve been working like mad, burnout is inevitable, even doing something you love. Remember to take time for yourself. Just taking a day to goof-off, see a move, or play with your kids is enough to help you get re-focused on your business. One of the wonderful things about working for yourself, is having the freedom to do this. Take a day off in the middle of the week, and if you need to make it up, work a little on the weekend. Rather than wait for a good day to take off, take a bad day off. Forget about it for a while, then come back refreshed with a new outlook.

Work On Your Favorite Stuff

Another pretty common reason for the business blues is spending a lot of time on the things that you have to do and not enough on the things you want to do. The reality of running a business requires a lot of things that aren’t fun, such as paperwork, filing, or cold calls (for some). These are things you have to do to keep things running smoothly. But if you need a boost, switch to doing the fun stuff – the things you associate with why you love doing what you do. It’s most likely true that you have to do the fun stuff anyway, that it’s part of your core business. So why not rearrange some things so you can work on them first. I’m not recommending putting off all the crappy stuff indefinitely. I’m a big proponent of the Eat that Frog strategy. But if you need a way to lift your mood, filling out tax forms probably isn’t going to do it (unless you’re a CPA and love that stuff – if so, that’s what you should do). You can always go back to that later. Procrastination isn’t always a bad thing.

Bad moods are a part of life, and running your own home business doesn’t make you immune. The bright side is that you are your own boss, so you don’t have to sit in a cube and just deal. You have the freedom to choose. Take advantage of it and learn to work with your moods as they come, and around them when you need to.

This post is part of “5 Things Week” over at Ben Yoskovitz’s Instigator Blog.

Are You Afraid of Your Competition?

pondering How do you think about others in your field or niche? Are they competitors or colleagues. A threat or a resource.

I had an interesting conversation the other day about home-based businesses and competition. It revolved around the way we view those with similar businesses or who work in our field. Too often others doing business in our field are seen as “the competition.” It’s important to consider how you view your peers – it can directly affect many areas of your business, including networking and referrals. Meaning you may stop getting them.

Many fields are cut-throat. Others are more cooperative by nature. How you choose to view your contemporaries can create a specific picture of you and your business.

For example, I know of a plumber who was very well respected and sought after. All of his business came by word of mouth. He kept a list of other plumbers whose work he respected to refer folks to when he got too busy. Some regarded this with suspicion, while most loved it and gladly returned the favor.

Wendy at eMoms at Home talks about her experience in blogging, but many fields are similar:

Competition is Really Coop-e-tition After enjoying a successful career in the cutthroat recruiting industry (actually, I really did enjoy it!!), coming into the blogging community has both surprised and astonished me at times.

… I didn’t expect it, and in hindsight, I’m not really sure why it surprised me so much. But I am honored to be a part of this community of the best and the brightest…

I’ve been snubbed myself by others who thought I was honing in on their business (Hey, what’s this guy after, anyway?). Usually I like to create a sort of partnership, by approaching peers and looking for ways we could be a resource to each other. Some may see this as a threat (boo!). While most think of it as a great way to help each other out. Fortunately it’s not too often that its the former. I’ve been lucky to form some great relationships in the fields I work in.

So think about how you want to be viewed by others in your field. I don’t think there is a right answer, only the answer that works for you. But if you’re afraid of losing business, then maybe you need to rethink your strategies, rather than looking at who might be “out to get you.” A win-win relationship can really boost a small business, and help you to gain a reputation as a contributor in your field.