Last Updat: Apr 23, 2014
Trying to raise a family with both parents working full-time jobs outside the home is quite a challenge. Is self-employment the solution?

I was just about to leave for lunch when the switchboard operr told me I had a phone call.

Puzzl, since I was new on the job and not expecting any calls, I walk back to my desk and pick up the phone. It was my 10-year-old son.

“Hi, Mom, it’s me.”

“Stephen?…Stephen?”

“Yeah, it’s me.”

“Why did call? Is anything the matter?”

“I’m at Mike’s house?”

’re suppos to be in school. Why are at Mike’s house?”

“The school caught on fire and they sent everyone home.”

“What do mean the school caught on fire…”

“So I got on Mike’s bus and went to his house.”

” . . .If the school caught on fire and ’re at Mike’s house, where’s Vicki?”

“I put her on our bus and told her to go to Nina’s”

“Did Nina say it was OK?”

“I know, I’m at Mike’s house.”

As it turn out, 7-year-old Vicki was inde at Nina’s, but that phone call made me start to reconsider whether tng the job as a staff writer on a business trade magazine had been the right thing to do. Although the job was exactly the type of work I had want and allow me to schule my hours around the children’s school schule, I just didn’t feel comfortable about working away from home.

It wasn’t long either, until I start to resent the hour and fifteen minutes each day I had to spend traveling to and from work, and to realize that the costs of going to work (ne for new clothes, gasoline, tires, lunch from the deli on days didn’t have time to make my lunch or forgot to take it with me) all were eating into the extra income I thought I’d gain by working at a “real” job instead of freelancing from home as I had been doing for the ten years prior to tng that job.

So, a few months later, when my husband took a new job and we had to move to another part of the state, I decid to give self-employment another go-round — at least until the children were a few years older.

That was more than 20 years ago. These days the “children” come to visit on weekends. Stephen is an accountant with one of the largest accounting firms in the country and Vicki is a middle school teacher. I still work for myself and think I could ever work for anyone else again.

Over the years my business has chang and grown just as my children have. I’m no longer a one-person writer and copywriter. Instead, I run the Businessknowhow.com web site, which provides information, s and resources to more than a million home-bas and small businesses each year.

BusinessKnowHow.com was run from home until 2004. But I didn’t run it entirely alone. Instead, I had and still have a network of small businesses and freelancers mostly work-at-home parents I call on as ne (and as they are available) for various projects. One of the freelancers I’ve us in the past was my daughter, who did some itorial freelancing while she was in grad school.

The business has grown over the years. So last year, at an age when most people are wondering where they’ll get enough money to retire (and hoping they get forc into retirement before they’re ready), I rent office space and mov my business out of the house. I hir employees to work in the office, but still call on my virtual network to do projects from their homes.

Instead of worrying about the financial and emotional ramifications of losing a job and being forc into retirement, I enjoy running my own business and working to do the things that will make the business be both saleable and valuable when and if I decide I to scale back my business activities.

Remarkably, I have never personally met y of the freelancers and business owners who work on projects for me. They are scatter around the country. We communicate primarily via computer or telephone, with fax or US mail filling in as ne to transfer documents or materials that can’t be transferr by computer.

I believe in y ways, that my business and the way it’s run is a model of the way y more workplaces will be run in the future. While there will always be glass-in, climate-controll, ulcer-producing corporate workplaces, today’s technology gives us choices we never had before about where we work, when we work, how we work, who we work with, and how long we work. And working from home or in r own business 5 minutes away from home- is a pleasant alternative to traffic jams and elevrs and deli sandwiches gulp down between phone calls and meetings.

© 1983, 2000, 2005 Janet Attard

About the author:
Janet Attard is the founder of the award-winning  Business Know-How small business web site and information resource. Janet is also the author of The Home Office And Small Business Book and of Business Know-How: An Operational Guide For Home-Bas and Micro-Siz Businesses with Limit Budgets.  Follow Janet on Twitter and on LinkedIn

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