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Wed, 04/09/2008 - 15:50 — monica
In newspaper and radio interviews for our book, Comeback Moms, I'm frequently asked to advise women wanting to start their own businesses from home. In the past, I've confidently opined that the first thing a woman needs to do in pursuing such an endeavor is to evaluate her own situation. How old are her children? If they're preschool age, the odds of running a successful business are slim. It's tough enough chasing a three-year-old around the house much less running a mail order business out of the garage at the same time. It's not impossible, just very difficult.
But what if the kids are school age? Voila! "It's a whole different story," I used to say. Now you have the time to start and run your own business.
Note that I used to say these things. I don't say them anymore. The reason for my change of heart can be summed up in one word.
My children are both in school. The oldest is a sixth grader and the youngest is in kindergarten. During the hours they spend learning (I hope), I'm free to do other things. For me, over the past year, this has involved developing a business plan and creating the website you're reading now. When I initially decided to embark on this new venture, I figured I had all the time and resources necessary to make it a success. What I didn't count on was the entry of Jack into my life.
No, Jack's not my tall, dark, and handsome boyfriend (I'm married), although I do think he's pretty cute. He's not a brother or uncle in need of a good meal and a warm place to stay. People who've been unfortunate or misguided enough to try my cooking would cringe at the thought.
Jack is none of these things.
He's a dog.
I don't mean that as some kind of an insult. He is, in fact, a dog. Actually, to be precise, he's a four-month-old Labradoodle puppy.
On the surface, it would seem that having a puppy wouldn't be such a big deal. Besides, Jack isn't "my" dog. He's my children's puppy-a Christmas present they begged for using every tear jerking ploy they could think of to get. Timmy and Lassie would have been very proud.
Okay, I know what you're thinking, and you're right.
Yes, Jack is now only my children's puppy in some legalistic ownership based way. In every other way imaginable, he has indeed become "my" puppy.
The result? My workday goes something like this.
8:00 am-Begin work.
8:10 am-Take Jack out and implore him for fifteen minutes to "go potty."
8:25 am-Give up and go back to work.
8:28 am-Smell something. Clean up the "something." Back to work.
8:30 am-Instruct Jack to stop chewing the power cord to my printer. More work.
8:40 am-Search for "important paper." Spot shredded paper across the office floor. Note that one small corner of the paper has my company's federal tax ID number written across the top. Cease searching for "important paper."
And so it goes. . . . You get the idea. By the end of the day, I'm lucky if I've managed to make it through one business call without a dog barking in the background, and the most I've been able to accomplish is writing a letter to the IRS asking them if I could have a new tax ID form because my dog ate the other one they sent me.
The bottom line is that all of this has taken a huge toll on my ability to get much done in the course of the day. I now realize that childcare issues aren't the only potential challenges standing in the way of building a successful home based business.
Because of this, if I'm ever asked again to advise women starting a business, this will be my answer.
Evaluate the totality of your circumstances. Even the little things can become very big, so be aware of and be ready for that. This may mean that you may have to put off a launch date or pare down your business plan to accommodate your circumstances. Make sure you're really at a place where you can do your very best. If you do, you'll be successful. If not, you won't necessarily fail, but you may need a little Prozac along the way.
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