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Expert Answers to Biz Questions

Listen in! Pick up some expert advice to a reader's question that we selected from CyberSchmooz.

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The Biz Question

I had to do a lot of stuff last week to get me away from law and the practice. Many times, I find it next to impossible, trying to grasp what is left of my life. Just starting the business is hard, lots of expenses, lots of stuff to buy, lots of services, my books, etc. Many times, I am not even well enough to peruse what I need to peruse, so I make an attempt to do this at my peak hours, usually very late at night. I am in a special circumstance, because I miss having colleagues and people to talk to on a regular basis. I find this whole home-based business, SOHO stuff so disheartening too.

Answer from our Guest Expert Mark Bower of Aberdeen Mobile Home Repair

Hang in There!

Remember: Anything worth doing won't be easy. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. As your new biz forges ahead, keep this thought in mind. Almost anyone can start a home-based typing service, but not everyone can start a home office law practice. Good for you.

Wearing Many Hats Takes Time and Talent -- But It'll Pay Off in The End.

As a one-person show, you've discovered there's more to do than just your law work. You're also wearing the hats for the bookkeeper, office manager, and salesperson -- just to name a few. But for your biz to bear fruit, all these aspects must come together. And depending on how well you can juggle and balance them will either make or break you. You've also discovered the endless hours that it takes to launch a business -- hours that in time, you hope to be paid for.

Chin up! What you're experiencing is, believe it or not, normal for being self-employed at home. Starting a biz takes a lot of time and expense. Even though it's easy to spend all your time on getting organized, a good portion of your time needs to be spent on sales -- getting business!

So right now, you're working nights and weekends to get the ball up and running. In a couple years, you'll still probably be working nights and weekends. Yet, this time you'll be working all those hours just to keep up with all the incoming business!! And that's a good feeling.

Avoid Being "Home Alone"!

Working from home is lonely. But this is only the case if you chose to make it that way. Here are some great ways to beat the home-alone blues:

  • Maintaining contact with your colleagues is a must for any SOHO. You'll go absolutely batty if you don't! Sure, colleagues in your area are your competition, but they can also be your friends. Try to have coffee or do lunch a couple times a week with some. Be consistent in keeping these visits with others. Not only would you be sharing ideas and networking, but on occasion, you may find a project to work on together.
  • The wonderful world of the internet is also a great place to find and communicate with fellow colleagues and others. Check out chat rooms and messages boards. The more, the merrier!
  • Join your local Chamber of Commerce and attend their monthly meetings regularly. You'll meet some great people (and prospective customers).
  • Attend seminars or workshops in your area when it's convenient. Meet and mingle at these events.

Getting a Grip on the Craziness of Being a Home Biz

Now, the big question. How do you manage your time so you can accomplish all these tasks, yet not lose focus on growing your business?

First, your family is number one. If you don't have their support, your business will be a struggle from day one. So take time for them. Don't miss your kid's softball games or meeting your wife for lunch. Even though you're putting in a million hours a week, you have the advantage of setting your schedule. Come on, you're self-employed! Give yourself some perks. So be sure to put those important family events on the calendar and don't skip them!

Time management in your biz comes down to organization. Here's a couple tips I've come up with over the years.

When filing bills, receivables and other bookkeeping stuff, I keep 12 files. One file for each month of the year. After logging the paperwork into my Quickbooks program, everything for that month goes into one file. Saves me hours in filing and sorting!! Guess what? I've never had a problem finding anything. Even though some months that file can get pretty fat, it's a wonderful, simple system that works for me.

Another tip is to use a daily planner. No biz person should be without one.

Welcome to the self-employed club. Like you, when I started, I did it all. Eventually, business increased and soon my wife was able to quit her job. She's now my office manager and has freed me from those duties allowing me to concentrate more on growing the business. We're busy as heck, working nights and weekends, and loving every minute of it!

Don't Give Up!

Mark Bower

Aberdeen Home Repair

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