Home Biz Summertime Fun

by Rob Spiegel

The most commonly named reason for launching a home business is to be close to children while still earning a living. So just how do you run that business with "SpongeBob SquarePants" blaring in the background? Here's a humorous look at the "fun" you can have running a business at home when the kids are out of school.

“Dad, let’s go to the pool. Hang up the phone – we’ve been waiting forever!”

Of course you can’t hang up the phone. It’s a major client who is outlining the work that’s needed by the end of next week. You give hand signals to your kids indicating that you will inflict great bodily distress if they don’t keep it down. And of course you’re flailing your arms while trying to jot notes about your client’s project. Your kids ignore your desperate, pathetic gestures and turn up the sound of SpongeBob SquarePants, hoping you’ll give up and end the phone conversation.

With all the focus you can muster, you try to decipher the small voice on the phone that’s giving you detailed instructions. You client asks, “Is this a good time to call? It sounds like there is some commotion on your side.”

“Certainly. This is a good time,” you lie. But it really doesn’t matter what time your client calls. It’s summertime and there’s no good time during normal business hours. You client goes on explaining the project while your kids fight over bubblegum to the screeching sounds Mr. Crab hawking his crabby patties.

The kids interrupt their fight just long enough to yell out, “But, Dad, you promised!” – those magic words are intended to manipulate your every move. Those four words are used routinely during these warm summer days because they’re so damned effective. A small portion of your brain is trying to recall whether you ever did “promise” anything. You continue to take notes about your client’s work. Another tiny part of your brain makes a mental note to put everyone in timeout just as soon as you hang up the phone. And why in God’s name does the phone has to be so close to the television?!

Now your client starts to yak about her coming vacation to Morocco.

“Morocco?” you ask, feigning interest. “You don’t have kids, huh?”

"No, I don’t. How’d you know?”

“Just a guess.”



Finally, the call’s over. You finished jotting notes while the kids find your bathing suit and throw it to you, yelling, “Come on, Dad, you promised.” You still have a slew of questions about your client’s project, but those can be sent along by email later. Now that the call’s over, all your frustration has completely evaporated. You’re putting on your bathing suit.

On the way to the pool you explain to your kids that they really have to respect you calls and stay quiet. You realize it’s wasted breath, but somehow you feel you owe it to yourself to at least verbalize your desire to present some semblance of a work environment during business hours.

But it’s summertime now and the business day is kid friendly. Remember, this is the reason you decided to work from home. To be with your kids while they grow up. That’s why you get up at 3:00 a.m. each morning – just you and Imus in the Morning on MSNBC – so you can get a good five hours of work in before the kids take over.

The most commonly named reason for launching a home business is to be close to children while still earning a living. Well, you’re good and close now, getting sunburned with them – “Hey, where’s the sunscreen? We just bought two bottles last week? Did you guys leave the bottles in your bedroom again?” – while teaching the backstroke and diving for McDonald’s Happy Meal SpongeBob toys. “Ouch!” You just stepped on SpongeBob’s sharp head.

Your friends who have older kids talk about how fast they grow up. This concept baffles you. Your youngest is seven, and you’d swear you’ve been taking care of her for a good 14 years.

Paradise can be incredibly frustrating, absolutely maddening. But it is paradise. You’re working from home, and you’re watching your kids grow up. Who cares about that great job you turned down in Boston, or the nasty cut you just got from SpongeBob’s head – this work from home business is a thing of beauty.

Rob Spiegel is the author of Net Strategy (Dearborn) and The Shoestring Entrepreneur’s Guide to Internet Start-ups (St. Martin's Press). You can reach Rob at robspiegel@comcast.net

 
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