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Mama Needs To Get Out of the Home Office

From virtual offices to shared space, there are options to take your home office to a more professional level.

Many mompreneurs started their business so they can be home with their kids. But the greatest blessing of being a mompreneur may also be its greatest challenge: Try putting out a professional image when your baby is crying in the background or your presentation is covered in crayon. Let's face it: It's tough to get any work done with baby in tow.

Working from home comes with tons of perks: no commute, no office rent and, of course, being with your children. But your business needs to look more polished and you need to show off your professional non-mommy side. The makeshift desk in your bedroom closet may not inspire trust in your new account.

I know many mompreneurs who meet their clients at a local coffee shop or bookstore to do business. But what message does that send to your client--that you can't afford office space? You may need one small step beyond a home office space--sometimes, you just need something more professional. Here are some alternative office space options to consider:

Virtual Offices: There are a variety of virtual office programs that help you put out a professional image even when your day may be filled with changing diapers and temper tantrums. Most virtual office programs allow you to access your business from anywhere you have internet access, including files, fax, e-mail and phone. A good virtual office program will allow you to create e-mail campaigns and auto responders so your business can run even when you're on the run.

Executive Office Suites: You can easily save 50 percent or more when you lease an executive office suite. You get just the space you need with low upfront costs and short lease terms. It's a great way to keep a home office and still present a professional image. You get access to meeting rooms, office equipment and maybe even a receptionist. They can collect your mail and forward it to your home. You choose the services you want and pay for only what you use. Believe it or not, you can rent your space on an hourly basis each month.

Shared Space: In today's tough financial times, many people are looking for ways to save money. Many people with big offices will sublet space, especially if you have a complementary business. Perhaps they downsized or they rented extra space for their future growth and want to rent it out in the interim. If you're subleasing from a company with similar values, it may help you feel more at home. However, it could seem less professional since these companies aren't in the business of creating a work environment tailored to your needs alone.

Mompreneurs are among the most creative people I've ever known. We're determined to be both professionals and moms. A new business called Cubes & Crayons demonstrates one mom's determination to have it all. Founder M.F. Chapman wanted to work and spend time with her daughter.

She couldn't find a child-care facility for limited hours that was both affordable and flexible to the changing needs of her work. Additionally, her new role as freelance worker isolated her from the general business community. Cubes & Crayons was the solution to this problem. Its centers provide engaging learning for young children while creating a sense of community and network for the parents who use its services.

You're the mom, and you're the boss. You can create any work space that works for you. It's nice to know that there are solutions between home office and old, traditional offices.

Lisa Druxman is Entrepreneur.com's "Mompreneur" columnist and the founder and CEO of fitness franchise Stroller Strides. Druxman is also a nationally recognized speaker and author, and is considered an expert in the field of fitness, particularly pre- and postnatal fitness. She hosts a free monthly webinar during which she answers questions from fellow mompreneurs. If you are interested in participating, contact her at lisa@strollerstrides.com.

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