Posts filed under 'She’s the boss'

Stressed and proud? Frantic freelancers, you’re not impressing anyone

You know those emails and status updates we frantic freelancers love to write about how we’re so busy juggling 11 assignments that we don’t know how we’re going to make it to Friday? We’re not helping ourselves — or our freelance friends — by playing the stress kitty. After reading a Women’s Health article on the topic, I blogged about this Stressier Than Thou phenomenon on Nine to Thrive yesterday. Here’s a snippet, complete with takeaways:

Don’t gloat. Stop bragging about how stressed and busy you are. It’s not impressive. Instead, you’re likely to repel those who’ve found better ways to cope with their own taxing schedule. Exude too much frenetic energy at work and you risk looking like someone who simply can’t handle the pressures of the job.

Don’t enable. The next time a friend or colleague boasts about their bloated workload, resist the urge to reply with, “I know. You should see what I have on my plate today. Seven meetings, a presentation I need to finish for next week, and a report due tomorrow morning. It’s madness.” Instead of playing the one-up game, say something like, “Wow, sounds like a hectic week for you. Any plans to relax after work tonight or this coming weekend?” In other words, encourage your pal or colleague to chill the heck out.

[Read the rest of this post on Nine to Thrive.]

3 comments May 12th, 2011

Five dirty little secrets of working from home

Last week my editor at ABCNews.com asked me to write a column outing what goes on behind the closed doors of freelancers, telecommuters, and kitchen-table entrepreneurs who work from home. I had a load of fun collecting the confessions of virtual employees and self-employed folks who work from their domicile (catnap, anyone?). As you’ll see below, I’ve got a handful of confessions of my own. Feel free to chime in with yours in the comments below.

Last fall my significant other and I moved in together. Although he was no stranger to my feral freelancer habits — living in my robe, working late into the night, not leaving the house for days on end — I cringed at the thought of him seeing me daily in all my unkempt, agoraphobic glory.

So I did what any disheveled freelancer would do: I got an office job — one that required me to show up at approximately the same time each day, looking fresh and professional.

Three months into the gig, I began to miss my bathrobe. Six months into it, I gave notice.

Now that I’m back to full-time freelancing, I’m trying to prove to myself and my new husband that working from home doesn’t necessarily mean living a life devoid of structure. But it’s not easy.

On any given day, my best-laid plans for a morning walk with the dog might be foiled by an urgent question from an editor about a story I’ve filed or an elusive source calling to say she’s available now, and only now, for that needed quote. Although I no longer skip the daily shower, I do sometimes skip out on date night with my sweetie when work gets too overwhelming. And while I’ve stopped working in my robe every day, I’ve taken to working in his.

Not all freelancers, telecommuters, and kitchen-table entrepreneurs are untamed insomniacs given to various states of undress. Many boast of adhering to professional attire and rigid work schedules. I’m convinced, however, that they’re in the minority.

To prove my point (or perhaps just make myself feel better), I informally polled dozens of self-employed professionals about their dirty little secrets of working from home. Here’s what they had to say.

[Read the rest of this story on ABCNews.com.]

8 comments April 28th, 2011

Working solo with your sweetie

For some reason, Girl Scout cookie season has always screamed ”Love is in the air!” to me — way the heck more than Valentine’s Day ever could. (Yes, I have a bit of a Thin Mints issue. What’s it to you?)

In honor of this lovey-dovey-est of seasons, I recently went on something of a writing-about-couples-who-work-together tear  (here, and here). I hadn’t given much thought to whether and when domestic partners in business together should reveal their coupledom to clients — that is, until one of these articles led me to interview spouses Kris Hoots and Steve Thomas, founders of Oneicity, a Seattle-area consulting firm that creates fundraising solutions for non-profit and religious organizations. 

Kris and Steve initially opted to keep their relationship status on the down low until clients and colleagues got to know them better. But once they realized that many of the clients and vendors they worked with were also shacked up, they decided they could afford to be less tight-lipped about their personal partnership. While the couple doesn’t exactly come right out and flaunt their marital status in their company’s marketing materials, they have blogged about it on their business site.

How about you? What’s your take on mixing love with business — and letting your customers in on the nature of the personal relationship you and your partner share? If you and your sweetie are in business together, do you play up your relationship status in your marketing materials and new client meetings? Or do you go out of your way to cloak your personal relationship from customers, vendors, and colleagues? Has your relationship status helped or hurt your business image, or has it not made one bit of difference?

4 comments March 14th, 2010

Anti 9-to-5 profile: Erika Teschke, dog walker

With everyone talking about career change these days, I thought it would fun to examine the work/life balance of those who’ve transitioned to some of the most coveted careers out there. First up, Erika Teschke, who in 2005 left her 10-year career as a legal professional to start her own dog walking and pet sitting business. I recently interviewed Erika by e-mail. Highlights follow. 

[Photo courtesy of Erika's Pet Service]

Q. What’s your typical work schedule?

A. Mondays through Fridays I do dog park runs 5 hours a day, between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. I also do about 30 minutes of stopovers during the week, where I feed and visit a pet that’s home alone, either before 2 p.m. or after 6 p.m. On weekends, I’ll do about three hours of paperwork and stopovers. I try not to work before 9 a.m. and past 6 p.m., but I have to be flexible on this if I have a pet that needs medicine or a walk at a particular time.

Q. How has your work/life balance changed since starting your business?

A. I definitely have more personal time now. However, the anxieties are different. Whereas being in an office made me a slave to the man, now I am responsible for everything: income, business success, client development, dog safety, responsibility as a walker, giving back to the parks I use, to name a few. I also have to be available for clients. At first I made myself available at all times when I was trying to grow the business. But now, since my clients and I have well-established relationships and they trust I will get back to them in a timely manner, I feel more comfortable making the evenings my own. I still work many weekends doing vacation stopovers. It is just the nature of the business.

Q. Still, a 30-hour workweek sounds pretty great. What’s the catch?

A. I make about $25,000 less than when I worked at the law firm. [Read the rest at NWjobs.]

4 comments July 10th, 2009

Win tix to this week’s Seattle small biz conference

Hey, new and aspiring freelancers in Seattle! Curious about how other self-employed professionals in the area got their start and deal with the ups and downs of working solo? On Tuesday, June 30, from 2 to 6 p.m., Seattle tech startup Jackson Fish Market is hosting its first Small & Special conference for current and hopeful small business owners. The conference is sold out, but I’ve got two free tickets to give away. Read on to see how you can win them…

Speakers at the event include Babeland co-founder Rachel Venning, children’s book publisher Oliver Chin, web application developer Steven Bristol, and international wine distributor Jon Rimmerman. You won’t find any venture-capital-hungry bazillionaires here; all the conference speakers bootstrapped their way to profitability. 

As for the day’s agenda, according to Donald DeSantis of Jackson Fish Market, “It will be one part inspiration, one part practical advice, and one part meeting new people.” In addition, all attendees will be entered into a drawing to win a custom promotional video for their business, courtesy of lilipip! studios and valued at $8,000.

To register for the conference (a deal at $25.00!), see smallandspecial.com. For more deets about the conference, see smallandspecial.com. If you’d like to throw your digital hat into the ring for one of the two free tix I have to give away, tell me about your business idea and why I should pick you right here in the comments. (Sorry, I won’t have time to collect email responses this week.) Thanks, and enjoy!

10 comments June 28th, 2009

Trimming your freelance/personal expenses with a mind to indie business

Like everyone else, I’m looking for ways to shave expenses. Dinners, presents, movies out, and tickets for live music are now few and far between. If I need clothes, I buy used as much as possible (I’ll break for new undees, sneakers, and socks though). If I play with friends, one of us suggests eating in or going to a free event, like a book reading or a talk. European vacation plans with the boyfriend are on hold. You know the drill — the frugal freelance budget, only on steroids.

I’m especially psyched that this insurance agent helped me pick a healthcare plan that costs $1500 less a year but still covers the stuff I need covered. (By dropping maternity, pharmacy, and vision bennies, I save money — who knew!?) And I made the switch from cable TV to Netflix a little while back. Together, these changes save me $200 a month, which ain’t too shabby.

Still, each time I revisit the “Where I can save?” question, two monthly expenses that I don’t really need to be incurring jump out at me:

(1) The money I pay to have my house cleaned every 4 to 6 weeks (about $100, depending on how dirty the house is). This is a total guilty pleasure for me. But I hate to clean and rarely have time to anyway. Besides, I look forward to that one day a month when I sit on the freshly vacuumed couch, survey the tidy, dog-hair-free living room, and think “Ahhhhhh.”

(2) The money I pay to have a 40-pound bag of Buddy‘s food delivered every 4 to 6 weeks (about $10 delivery charge each time). For some reason, picking up the dog food is an errand I’ve always hated. Usually I realize I’m out of kibble when the dog needs breakfast and an editor needs the article I’m working on. Also, those bags are dang heavy. So when I heard about a local delivery service, I was all over it.

Although I aspire to live leanly as possible — even if it means sucking it up and picking up my own mutt chow and mopping my own damn floors – I have a hard time letting either service go because these people are independent business owners. It’s a total thrill to not have to pay Comcast $60 extra a month or to tell LifeWise Health Plan where they can stick their stupid, plundering rate increases. But it does not feel good at all to take business away from another self-employed person. So I’ve decided that I’m keeping both services, depression be damned. Unless I have to start dipping into the dog’s food myself, I’m getting my house cleaned and my kibble delivered to my doorstep.

How about you? Are there expenses you feel you should cut back on but can’t bear to dump because you’d be contributing to another small business owner losing income?

21 comments February 28th, 2009

Women vs. men: When it comes to self-employment, what can we learn from each other?

My email pal Ian Sanders and I are running simultaneous interviews with each other this week on how men and women approach the self-employed life differently and what we can learn from each other. Ian owns a creative agency in London and is author of LEAP! Ditch Your Job, Start Your Own Business & Set Yourself Free and Juggle! Rethink Work, Reclaim Your Life. He’s also a dad to two toddlers. Part 1 of my interview with Ian follows; part 2 headed your way tomorrow. You can read Ian’s interview with me on his blog.

Q. Do you think men and women are driven by different factors in business?

A. Essentially I think men and women are both driven by being enterprising; they may have different approaches but they want the same goal: success.

Q. What do you think self-employed women can learn from men?

A. As soon as we start talking about gender differences we are of course generalising! With that caveat, I would say women can learn something about having guts to “just do it,” which sometimes men posses to a greater extent. Having that self-belief to be bold. I think women are better team players than men, so when they are working for themselves it can be tougher if they are not part of a team.

Q. What do you think self-employed men can learn from women?

A. Self-employed men can learn a few things from women, as I think women can be more adept at juggling a mixed portfolio and have the bandwidth to handle the varied tasks. Men are better at one thing at a time (apart from me of course!). I think blokes can be good at going out and winning business but sometimes lack the ability to simultaneously be across everything, the trivial and the detail. Women can also be better team players – personally, I find working relationships with women co-workers can be more stimulating and fruitful than with men.

Q. Do you think either men or women are better (in general) at separating work and play and keeping a balance between the two?

A. I think men are better at separating work and play; women are used to mixing it all up. Incidentally I think that mixing it all up is the way forward, and I’m no good at separation.

Q. What is your single most important survival tip for freelancers and people making the leap to self-employment?

A. My single most important survival tip is Focus. Focus on building revenues; focus on one area of business at a time, then diversify and build once you have foundations in place; focus on delivery of a project. Because a project not executed is just an idea.

5 comments December 15th, 2008

Ask the cubicle expat: LLC vs. sole proprietor?

Amy writes: I have a small boarding facility on my property. I board eight horses and I also live on the premises. I am trying to decide if I need to become an LLC. My concerns: If something does happen to a horse on my property due to my negligence, I don’t want to lose my house/land. What is the best way for me to go about this? I have spoken to my insurance agent and I am working on getting a policy in place to cover the liability, including an umbrella.

I answer: I’m no lawyer, but I would think an LLC would be a good idea since you’re dealing with people’s animals. As a I understand it, an LLC offers more protection than simply purchasing liability insurance. Here’s an earlier post I wrote on LLCs. And here’s a whole page on LLCs on Nolo.com that can tell you more. I suggest talking to other boarders to see what legal structure they’ve set up — as well as a qualified legal professional to get their recommendations.

Good for you for getting the liability insurance though. Hopefully you got business liability insurance and not a personal liability plan. (More on that here.)

Add comment August 27th, 2008

When cronies attack

I know as small business owners and freelancers it may be tempting to hire or subcontract to friends who need work but may not necessarily have the right qualifications (or motivations). Before you do, you may want to consider some of the pitfalls and suggestions I mentioned in this article.

A marketing director I recently met was kicking herself for recommending a friend for a temporary position doing admin work for her boss.

“Everything started out OK,” said Christie, who works at an arts organization in San Francisco. ” And then the whining started.”

The job was beneath him, didn’t pay enough and wasn’t what he saw himself doing long-term, her ungrateful pal whinged. Then he told Christie that he “would be gone in a month or so.”

Only he didn’t quit. Instead, he stayed on nearly a year, “calling in sick once a week and showing up 30 to 45 minutes late every day,” Christie explained.

But the slacking didn’t stop there. There were the two-hour lunches, the “dental appointments” that required him to leave work early at least three days a week, and the maddening fact that he kept telling Christie about his necessary absences instead of dealing directly with his manager, something Christie was forever reminding him to do.

Read the rest of the article on abcnews.com.

1 comment July 11th, 2008

‘The Boss of You’ in Seattle

The Boss of YouHey Seattleites! My Seal Press comrades Emira Mears and Lauren Bacon — authors of this fine book you see to the left — will be in town this weekend for a book reading. The scoop:

Where: Elliott Bay Book Co (map)

When: Saturday, May 17 @ 4:30 pm

What: Book reading and signing, prizes, and a lively Q&A

I’ll be there. Will you?

Add comment May 15th, 2008

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Hi, my name's Michelle Goodman and I've been freelancing since 1992. I'm author of My So-Called Freelance Life and The Anti 9-to-5 Guide. Read my full bio here.

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