From the August 1998 issue of Startups

Just because you've traded in the crowded office and the buzz around the water cooler doesn't mean you'll have all the peace and quiet you've ever dreamed of in which to work. As many a homebased business owner has learned the hard way, barking dogs, construction and kids playing in the street can drive you to distraction. How can you savor the sounds of silence--without moving to the boondocks?

  • Scope out the sound level in different parts of your house before choosing an office location. If the street out front is noisy, put your office in back. If your neighbor seems to mow his lawn daily, set up shop on the other side of the house. Basements and attics may offer greater noise protection.
  • Learn your town's noise abatement ordinances. If you think a neighbor is breaking local laws, discuss it with him or her before calling authorities. Until you complain, your neighbor may not even be aware there's a problem. Most people will muzzle the dog or turn down the stereo once they know the noise bothers you.
  • Block it. Open windows are invitations to noise. Install an air conditioner (the hum blocks the sounds) or listen to soft, soothing music while you work.
  • Insulate. Contact a contractor; insulating your office may be worth the cost. A do-it-yourself solution: Hang heavy fabric on the walls and windows. Cheaper still: Wear earplugs.

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

Support System

When you're used to the companionship of co-workers, going solo can be lonely. "The tendency may be to bury yourself in work," says Aimee Fitzgerald, who left the corporate world 14 years ago to launch Fagan Business Communications in her Englewood, Colorado, home. "Instead, get out and meet people."

Fitzgerald's solution was to form a support group for other independent public relations professionals. "Now I have people to run ideas by [and] to commiserate with," she says. Here's how to launch your own support group:

  • Invite everyone you know who fits the profile of a prospective member. Fitzgerald's first members came from the local public relations association. Only five people came to the first meeting, but as the number of homebased entrepreneurs has grown, so has her group.
  • Stay flexible. Fitzgerald's group meets regularly, but there are usually no set topics. "Sometimes we talk about subjects of interest to everyone; sometimes we break into small groups and discuss things appropriate to each group; sometimes one person has an issue to raise; and sometimes we just chat about whatever comes up."
  • Harness the benefits of group buying power. Fitzgerald's group is considering several joint purchases. "Our professional society offers a huge library of videotapes. For an individual, the cost is prohibitive," she says, "but if several of us chip in, we can afford them."

Head Start

Thinking about starting a homebased business? If you need a kick in the pants, pick up Tips for Your Home Office, by Meredith Gould (Storey Books, $14.95, 800-441-5700).

While much of Gould's advice can be found in other books about homebased business, what stands out is her attention to the psychological, emotional and physical aspects of running a homebased business--areas rarely explored.

In one chapter, Gould discusses using biorhythms to "practically [guarantee] more alertness and productivity." Pay attention, she promises, and you'll work more efficiently, with less fatigue. In another chapter, she explains how errors in thinking can stand in the way of success.

Few business books so strongly make the link between a healthy psyche and a healthy bottom line. Gould does it with a light touch that makes this an easy but stimulating read.

Contact Source

Fagan Business Communications, (303) 843-9840, aimeecolo@aol.com