Monday, March 30, 2009

5 Reasons for Stress in Your Home-Based Business

A growing number of men are pursuing successful businesses from home; however, it would appear that the majority of home-based businesses are managed by women. Many of these women are mothers, especially of small children; wives; caregivers for elderly parent/s; involved in social and volunteer activities, and the list goes on. 'These are normal activities for many people,' you may say. True, but these same responsibilities can create tremendous stress for solo-professionals working from home.

Maintain a proper balance between personal and professional life

a) Location: Your office building is your home. Your office may be a desk and chair in an already occupied room. Or you may have a room designated as your office. Can you make and receive phone calls without interruption or background noise? At the start of your day, do you dress as if you were expecting a client in your home, or as if you were leaving for a job outside the home? Nothing excessive, but doing whatever is necessary to make you personally feel you're going to YOUR office to work?

b) Setting Parameters: One of the reasons many mothers with small children choose to work from home is the desire and preference to raise their children themselves while others with older children desire to home-school their children. Does your family understand that once you are at your desk you should not be disturbed unless it's very important? Do they understand that tools (pens, pencils, notebooks, etc.) on your desk are for business purposes only so that you don't waste your time finding them when you need them?

c) Setting a Schedule: A basic schedule is essential. Where babies and very small children are involved it can be challenging to adhere to that schedule; that's a concept that they have not grasped yet but can be trained as they get older. You, though, need to know what your goals are on a given day because without a plan the day goes by and you've accomplished very little in your business. It's been said that if you fail to set goals, you'll reach them every time.

d) Managing yourself not just your time: A proper diet and exercise are essential to function properly in any situation. Many solo-professionals I've spoken with find this a challenge, and I often do as well. I'll get so caught up in what I'm doing that I forget to eat, which leads to headaches. Unfortunately, this will only add to your stress level and may result in health issues. Exercise engenders a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction and can create a sense of well-being that allows you to find humor even in stressful situations.

e) Isolation: Many people love working alone. Others hate it! They miss the rapport with co-workers, the watercooler chit-chats and jokes, and face-to-face interactions with people. Depending on the type of business you're pursuing, you may not have regular interaction with people. Regardless of how much we love our children, most of us crave adult coversation. If you work with clients/customers mainly on the telephone, why not arrange to meet them in person from time to time? If there are networking events in your area, why not make arrangements so you can attend one or two each month?

Working from home does not mean you have to control every situation instead learn the art of delegation. Share responsibilities with other family members. You may also have to learn to say 'no' especially when family members and relatives fail to respect your time or appreciate that you have a business to run. Do not rely only on just yourself and maintain a sense of humor.

I would love to hear what you've found works best for you. How do you cope with stress as a work-at-home professional? Please share your thoughts in the Comments.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Part 1 - An Overview of Stress in the Lives of Home Based Business Owners and Solo Entrepreneurs

All of us who own and manage our small businesses from home became business owners for various reasons and as a result of varying circumstances. Many did so after carefully making a thorough assessment of their personal and financial situation, others launched a business because they were laid off from their jobs and need to find another avenue to make money, while others did so because they wanted to be home with their children and needed to have an income.

The website notes that America's small businesses...account for 39% of the country's gross national product. However, "The Office of Advocacy defines a small business for research purposes as an independent business having fewer than 500 employees," so for the most part many home based business may not be included in these statistics. Nonetheless, like any large organization we have challenges and arising out of these challenges we have stress.

Many of us left corporate jobs to start our own businesses so we could reduce stress, or so we thought. What are the reasons for some of the stress we experience? How can we reduce our stress level? Where can we find information to help us? In my next three posts I'll cover points on these topics.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Managing Our Emotions on a Daily Basis

As I sat in my office this morning and thought about what I wanted to write, I realized that for my thoughts to flow, I would need to take a moment to pray, think and then write. You might wonder what was so special about that?

On my 'Things to do list' this post should have been completed by 6:30 a.m. and it's now almost 8:30 a.m. Instead of being able to start writing at 6:15 a.m. I had to deal with issues with my Internet connection and while waiting for that to be resolved, worked on faxes and mail. The flow of thoughts I had were disturbed and it seems that while outwardly calm, negative emotions were creeping in. It was time to pray and ask for God's direction and peace...and I received it.

Why am I sharing this with you? Because you may have had something that disturbed your normal routine or just feeling out of sorts this morning or on any given day. You may have lost your motivation for the moment and it could affect your entire day if you let it. Do not allow that to happen! Fight the feeling to quit, even temporarily.

Those of us who are self-employed enjoy our flexibility but because we are our own boss we can give ourselves permission to put off what needs to be done 'because we don't feel well' or 'just don't feel up to it today.' If we worked for someone else, would we be allowed to have pity parties and not show up for work? It's essential to remember that managing our emotions is our responsibility. Not if, but when we feel overwhelmed, reach up! For me, I like to pray and I also have accountablity partners that I can reach out to.

As a small business owner, entrepreneur, solo-professional, what do you do when you feel overwhelmed or feel that you're losing your motivation? Please share your comments. We can learn from each other.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Trust - How Can Trust Be Achieved in Online Marketing?

It cannot be stated too often. People do business with people they know, like and trust. Although it's the third component of the equation, it is most critical. People first have to get to know you, either face to face or through online social networks.

Challenge - Getting Others to Know You: Online marketing is even more challenging because unlike face to face marketing where your facial expression, voice tone, body language and even appearance are able to convey your message; online marketing is dependent on what you say and where you say it. "Where" is the easier part - it may be a static website, a blog, social networks like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or other forums. "What" is harder! Why? Because every person who reads what you say can understand or interpret it in a different way. You could easily say something that in your view is funny but others read and take offense. That's why many people will add things like LOL, :), tee-hee, or other indicators of humor to help convey the tone of what's been written.

Challenge - Getting Others to Like You: As you reveal your true self and become real to people that's when they will get to like you. In all aspects of business, but moreso in online networking and marketing, it is so important that you show you care about others by offering your assistance and providing quality information when possible. This is part of the steps required to build relationships so that people who have never met you or are ever likely to meet you come to regard you as the person next door, the one they can look to for solid advice or recommendations.

Challenge - Getting Others to Trust You: Trust is not only a logical act but also an emotional one. In giving trust to others you may need to expose your vulnerability to others. Interestingly, some of the most successful entrepreneurs/business owners in internet marketing have stated that their list grew when they revealed a mistake they'd made or something that indicated they were not perfect and how they corrected it. Do you see how one action leads to the other? They trusted the 'world' not to ridicule their mistakes and the 'world' responded positively showing that they felt the inidividual could be trusted; they're human just like the rest of us.

All forms of business and marketing present their own challenges. Understanding how to minimize the obstacles can help us to become more effective in building our online businesses.
Please feel free to post your comments. I would love to get your opinion on the topic and invite you to share your experiences.

I also invite you to visit my website at to learn more about a relationship-building card system that allows you to stay in contact with your customers easily and effectively. Send me an e-mail request and I will send you a copy of my FREE report "One Dozen Reasons to Send a Follow-up Card."

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Breaking Out of Your Clumps at Group Events

Do you remember from your school days the proverb, "Birds of a feather, flock together?" It is a truism, isn't it, and not just for birds. It is a natural tendency in humans to want to stay in groups with others we feel comfortable with - either people we already know or those with whom we share similar interests.

When it comes to business events like large training groups, business functions and networking events staying within your groups or your clumps may not be a good idea. What's usually your main reason for attending these events? Would it be for exposure? Even if your goal is 'only' to learn, these are opportunities to get to know other coaches, marketers, etc. If you congregate with just your known circle, you are not allowing yourself to make meaningful connections and possibly reach new people and companies that you'd like to do business with. You may also have the personality or type of business someone else needs. Would it be fair to deprive others of getting to know you?

Breaking out of your clumps or clusters may be challenging but it can be done. Develop the mindset of a Host who has to circulate among everyone in the room just to be sure they are comfortable. This could mean asking yourself, Who can I help to establish new contacts? Which two people can I introduce to each other-whose businesses could support each others? Which speaker impacted me that I can sincerely give a compliment to?

Just a reminder, because I've been guilty of this too. You may be nervous, but force yourself not to talk too much. Make brief comments then ask questions that will elicit positive responses. In so doing you take the pressure off yourself and the person to whom you're speaking will be thrilled at your level of interest in what he or she has to say.

I invite you to post your Comments and share your experience on this topic.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Are You Making the Mistake of Handing Out Your Business Cards too Freely at Networking Events?

Networking events are great meeting places and as the name implies, they provide a venue to work within a group - usually of professionals. Like any other successful method of marketing, there is an art to networking that involves many areas, but we'll focus on just one for now. What is you goal when you attend networking events? Is it to quickly tell everyone who you are, what you do, hand out as many cards as possible, then leave?

If your goal is to get your card into the hands of as many people as possible without taking the time to find out who they are, what they do and how you can help them, then your purpose for attending would have failed. It's important to remember that networking is about building relationships and to achieve this it is important to be others focused. Get to know people by asking questions about them. Ask simple conversation starters like: What do you do? You can follow with questions like, How long have you been in business or working this particular business? Who is your target market? How can I help YOU?

Someone may say that if all they're to be concerned about is the other person, what's the point in attending these events? The point is that when you show that you care about others, they begin to build a measure of trust in you. People are so accustomed to being pitched to so that when you display the opposite behavior they lose some of the defense wall surrounding them and will more readily want to learn more about you and find out how they in turn can help you.

Go with a mindset to GIVE, and you'll be pleasantly surprised how much you GET.

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Please feel free to comment on my blog, and I would love to know what topics that affect Relationship Marketing you would like to be discussed.