From the June 1998 issue of Startups

Is your waistline growing along with your business? Unfortunately, weight gain is an occupational hazard of homebased business ownership. But how do you resist being tempted by the fridge?

"People gain weight when they work at home, because they're surrounded by stimuli urging them to eat," says Randall C. Flanery, associate professor of community and family medicine at St. Louis University School of Medicine in Missouri. Simple solution: Remove visual cues, such as snacks on the counter or candy by the computer. Flanery's other tips:

  • During breaks, move your legs, not your mouth. Don't head for the kitchen for coffee and a doughnut. Instead, walk around the block, do stretches or run up and down stairs. A 10- to 15-minute walk restores alertness and burns calories, too. Schedule an exercise break each workday.
  • Avoid grabbing a "quick" lunch. Give yourself at least half an hour to prepare a meal, set the table and take time to savor your food. Never eat and work at the same time. "When you're `auto-eating,' " explains Flanery, "you disregard cues about how much you've eaten and whether you're full."
  • Lonely or bored? In an office full of people, you can seek support down the hall. But when you're home alone, you may seek solace in food. Before these moods strike, plan alternative ways to address them. Call another homebased friend, play with a pet or head outside for some fresh air.

Lynn H. Colwell is a business writer in Post Falls, Idaho.

On The Money

Cash crunches happen to every homebased entrepreneur. How to cope? "You can tighten your belt without your hurting your customers, your professionalism or your efficiency," promises Kimberly Stanséll, author of Bootstrapper's Success Secrets: 151 Tactics for Building Your Business on a Shoestring Budget (Career Press, $13.99, 800-CAREER-1). "[Because] homebased businesses have a veil of privacy, they can get by without things that would be necessary if the business were outside the home." Stanséll's suggestions:

  • Take on additional work. Get a part-time job or use a hobby to generate quick cash. "As long as you continue to service your regular clients, they won't know you're running two or three businesses from home," Stanséll says.
  • Bring outsourced tasks in-house until the crisis passes. If you can't manage alone, convince your spouse, a parent or a friend to help. If you have children, give them tasks that can free you to concentrate on bringing in the bucks.
  • Cut phone costs. Little extras add up. Do you really need call forwarding and three-way calling?

Fatal Distractions

Interruptions destroy your efficiency and, ultimately, your bottom line. Diana Thomas, owner of Promotions Plus, a promotional products company in Austin, Texas, discovered some useful strategies for curbing interruptions when her four sons were young:

To get uninterrupted time on the phone, Thomas purchased a kitchen timer. When she picked up the phone, she set the timer for the period she expected to talk (adding a few minutes' cushioning). If a child started to interrupt, she pointed to the timer. The child was reassured that soon she'd be off the phone.

Whenever Thomas closed her office door, one of the boys inevitably started knocking. To solve the problem, she gave each child $10 at the beginning of the month. Whenever one interrupted her, she took away $1. It didn't take long for her children to catch on.

If adults interrupt, you need to be more aggressive. Denise Campbell, an independent Avon representative in North Providence, Rhode Island, found it difficult to avoid being rude to relatives or friends who dropped by or called while she was working.

"I began giving them a few minutes of my time, then announcing I was busy and needed to return to my work," says Campbell. "The message got through; I no longer get many interruptions during working hours."

Contact Sources

Denise Campbell, c/o Avon by Denise, (800) 286-6515, AVONRI@aol.com

Promotions Plus, fax: (512) 269-4951, Thomas109@aol.com

Kimberly Stansell, c/o Research Done Write!, 6308 W. 89th St., #306-BS, Los Angeles, CA 90045, (310) 568-8589