From the November 1998 issue of Startups

If you find yourself growing sleepy, bored or hungry after a few hours in your home office, take a look at your walls. According to Jill Morton, a Honolulu color consultant and author of Color Voodoo: A Guide to Color Symbolism (an electronic book available for $19.99 at http://www.jiffyart.com/cvoodoo.html), a neutral, bland-gray or off-white home office is understimulating and can create boredom and anxiety. "Brain waves are at their functional best and your heart rate is slower in a mildly colorful room, compared with a less colorful room," says Morton.

But "colorful" doesn't mean you should slap a coat of red or purple paint on your walls. "People respond to colors differently," Morton explains. "In general, extroverts benefit from warm-colored walls, ranging from soft peach to a deep, muted brick color with accents of green or blue. Introverts benefit from very subtle cool colors like muted greens, soft blue-greens and blues in light to medium-dark shades."

If you're thinking of painting, Morton suggests these colors:

  • Soft green (with no yellow tinge) or soft, muted blue-green. It's very calming and colorful, it's restful to the eye, and it relates to nature.
  • Light peach. It's a friendly, warm color, and it harmonizes with wood.
  • Taupe (a rich, warm gray). It provides a neutral background but changes tones depending on the time of day and lighting.

Colors to avoid in large doses include white (it can cause severe eye fatigue, much like snow blindness), and pure, bright hues like red and yellow. "They're much too distracting, even for an extrovert," Morton explains. "Use bright colors as accents only."

Finally, Morton adds with a smile, anyone fighting that common homebased battle with weight gain should keep in mind that blue and purple are said to decrease appetite.

His And Hers

Is one house big enough for two separate businesses? "Absolutely!" agree John and Linda Ruffin, who run independent companies from adjoining offices in their Santa Barbara, California, home.

John Ruffin started The Synergy Group, a management consulting and training firm, 12 years ago. Four years later, buoyed by his own success and convinced of Linda's potential, he encouraged his future wife to start her executive search firm, Opportunities Plus. While admitting their arrangement may not work for everyone, the Ruffins agree on its potential benefits to both partners and businesses.

"We are on each other's board of directors," says John. "As a couple, we're close, but we have enough distance to contribute to each other's strategic thinking. We bring different experiences and judgments to the table. I love to bat ideas back and forth with Linda. When she's totally caught up in her own business and we don't have time to do that, I really miss her input."

What makes the Ruffins (and other entrepreneurs like them) successful in their relationship as well as their individual businesses?

  • Having their own businesses fits their personalities. "We're very compatible but independent people," says Linda. "As compatible as we are, we'd do fine in one business together. But as independent as we are, we like the autonomy of having our own thing."
  • They are each other's greatest cheerleaders. "When Linda was working for someone else, I saw capabilities in her she wasn't acknowledging. I knew she could take something she was already doing and do it for herself," says John.
  • They aren't competitive. "We've each been very successful and have supported each other every step of the way," Linda says. "If we were competitive and trying to outdo each other, that could be a real trap."
  • They seek opportunities to build each other's business. "While our companies are different, there is some overlap," says John. "We look for ways to bring business to the other person." Some of Linda's clients have become John's as well, and vice versa.

Says Linda, "Supporting each other contributes to the growth of both companies."

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

Contact Sources

Jill Morton, jmorton@colorcom.com

Opportunities Plus, 2069 Las Canoas Rd., Santa Barbara, CA 93105, (800) 700-PLUS

The Synergy Group, 2069 Las Canoas Rd., Santa Barbara, CA 93105, (800) 6-SYNERGY