A couple of weeks ago I wrote about what actually “counts” as being retired. Obviously, times have changed, and “retirement” is looking a great deal different than it did during my parents’ time. In reinventing ourselves on the Voyage, hubs and I decided to start our own business, partly because we wanted the additional income stream, but also because we enjoy the creativity and opportunities we’ve discovered. Hubs will remind you that Frank Lloyd Wright did not actually hit his stride until he was 70 years old!
But we don’t pay for the overhead of an outside office space and instead, we work out of our home. In living and working together 24/7, let’s just say we’ve learned a few things as they relate to working from home. You might find these tips helpful:
1. Keep a workday schedule – If you want to operate a business, you need to treat it as you would a business outside of the home. Hubs gets up every morning, showers and is in his office generally before 7:00 AM. He recognizes that business is taking place out there, even across time zones, and he wants to be at his computer and participating in it!
2. Dress for the job – It’s a mindset. No, really it is. Hubs may start the day in khaki pants and a polo, change into jeans and a t-shirt to mow the lawn later in the day, then change back into “work clothes” when he returns to his office. Now I will admit that I’ve done some paperwork in my jammies, and occasionally I’m barefoot – but as a rule, we respect our business enough to dress the part.
3. Have a “space” dedicated to doing business – Perhaps it’s an office, maybe it’s a desk or even a table in a corner. The point is, it’s a space that is way different than sitting on the couch or recliner. It’s pretty darned easy to get distracted away from the task at hand if that TV flipper is too close! Wherever that space is, it needs to be functional for the demands of the job, with easy access to whatever materials and resources are necessary.
4. Professionalism on the phone is important – This was sort of weird for us at first, as we both use our personal cell phones. Decide, in advance, how you will answer your phone to take business calls or to answer numbers which are unknown. Your business persona is most likely quite different than the way you answer calls from your mom! In some cases, you may want a phone and dedicated line specifically for business. Either way, the current state of cellular technology has convinced us that “the world is flat” and that we can conduct business from nearly anywhere that we have a cell signal!
5. It helps to have a “hotspot.” – We’ve found that having a Wi-Fi hotspot, separate from our phones, has allowed us to have secure internet connection no matter where we travel. When we have traveled out of the country, we have put the hotspot on the international plan with our provider, allowing us to hook up as many as 5 different devices on the road.
6. Be aware of background noise – There is nothing that will make a business seem more questionable than a barking dog or a crying baby in the background! Do you want to do business with someone when you can hear the sounds of “Days of Our Lives” in the background? Didn’t think so…
7. Have a place to meet “clients” – Do you want to have clients come to your home? Early on, we laughed at having “Conference Room East” and “Conference Room West” – coffee shops on both sides of town where we would offer to meet and buy coffee for potential business associates. We also have several professional partners who have offered to let us use their business conference rooms when needed. Some cities have “incubator spaces” where a conference room could be rented on an as-needed basis. Once, when needing to meet with a members of a visiting out of town architectural firm, we had to scramble to find a professional place to meet! It would have been helpful to have a plan up front!
8. Know how to communicate, “I’m Working!” – This has been one of the trickier aspects of the Voyage, and while every instance will be personal, it is fairly universal for those working from home. It is easy for well-intentioned friends and family to believe that you should be able to set business pursuits aside in favor of other activities. “What do you mean you can’t go shopping this afternoon??? Can’t you just do that later?” It can be difficult to explain that while being your own boss does allow for some flexibility, business often must come first!
On the Encore Voyage, we claim to be one-third Frank Lloyd Wright, one-third Warren Buffet, and one-third Jimmy Buffet. We spend quite a bit of time on the Frank Lloyd portion of this gig…it’s not all Jimmy having cheeseburgers in paradise. And while we absolutely love being in charge of every day, stretching our entrepreneurial wings, working from home has been an interesting part of the journey. So how about it…any other tips you’d like to add? I’d love it if you’d share in the comments!