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Nature Calls

Taking your business to the great outdoors

Ahh,spring. The scent of freshly mown grass, the eye-popping florescence of your blossoming garden, thrushes whistling joy in your back yard. Ahh, spring-yet another reason for your office-tethered comrades to hate you.

One of the brighter perks of working at home is escaping the confines of four walls to take your business onto the patio, deck, yard, poolside or even the driveway during the more forgiving months of the year. "We usually keep the garage door open all the time when we're [shipping sample products]," says Debra Parks Root, 34-year-old founder of Mrs. Malibu Foods Inc., a low-fat peanut butter company she runs out of her one-acre, ocean-view home in Malibu, California. Though she estimates her sales will reach $3 million this year, she hasn't forsaken the comforts of home, maintaining the company's headquarters in her guesthouse with her garage as a shipping station. "If it's a nice day and we want a little sun, we take the tables out of the garage and sit in the driveway."

You can also find Root taking calls while enjoying a Jacuzzi soak with her husband, Wayne, who also works from home as an author, motivational speaker and sports show producer-although she admits she has to be careful with the bubble noises when she's on the phone. Hmm, that sounds like a problem we'd like to try working out.

Craig D. Van Hulzen, owner of Van Hulzen Asset Management in Colorado Springs, Colorado, takes to the great outdoors about eight months a year. "Using my laptop and cellular phone, I can work on anything that can be done inside except printing," says Van Hulzen, 28, who normally sets up shop on his backyard deck but is known to take calls from the golf course.

The few clients who know of Van Hulzen's tendency to breathe the fresh air suffer a bit from the green-eyed monster. "I get ribbed sometimes by the financial advisors who bring me clients, but as long as the portfolios are being managed and performing well, no one seems to mind much." What Van Hulzen does mind, however, are the minor catastrophes caused by outdoor climes. His advice to you? "The wind can wreak havoc on paperwork. I try to be paperless outside now. [Also,] try wearing sunglasses and some sunscreen, and avoid making calls when the neighbor is mowing the lawn."

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