The Whole Truth

The Basics

Average number of workers employed: 7.3

Average 1997 sales: $365,000

Average length of time in business: 51¦2 years

How You Work

Workaholics anonymous: The average homebased business owner works 48 hours per week, and more than half said sleep takes a back seat to work when deadlines loom.

Scrooge would be proud: Exactly half of you admit to working on national holidays.

Did somebody say lunch time? An overwhelming majority of homebased business owners avoid spilling on important papers by breaking for lunch and dinner.

The runaround: Nearly all respondents leave their home offices to do errands during the day. After all, you have to go out sometime.

Oprah's on! But you're not watching her. Sixty-six percent of you leave the television off during the workday.

Success the first time around: Fewer than 20 percent of you have previously owned a business that's failed. What's your secret?

No (wo)man is an island: A little more than half of you meet with customers in your homes, while only
44 percent of you network with other homebased business owners.

Tech talk: Only 20 percent of our respondents admitted they were technophobes. Everyone else averaged three telephone lines, three computers (two for business use and one for personal use), two printers and one fax machine.

Surf city: Our respondents spent an average of eight hours per week online for business use, compared to four hours for personal use. Seventy-two percent use e-mail to communicate with customers or suppliers, while 63 percent have Web sites.

All Work And No Play . . . You Know The Rest
Can't remember the last time you took a vacation? Neither can Nancy Christie, a freelance writer in Youngstown, Ohio, who last saw the light of day in 1991 on a short jaunt to Florida. Christie has trouble justifying any R&R that takes her away from her business, Professional Writing Services. "You can't take a vacation when you have your own business," she says. "If you take a vacation, it's not paid, so how do you dare take time off when you should be making money?" At press time, however, Christie was planning another trip to Florida for a working vacation.

The Good, The Bad And The Really Messy
When it comes to home office hygiene, the responses were evenly divided between "cleanliness is next to godliness" and "it's the maid's day off." There is, however, a small, elite force of homebased business owners who have embraced the concept of chaos and learned to live with it. One master of disaster is Sarah Miller, a freelance writer from Des Peres, Missouri.

Over the past 12 years of self-employment, Miller admits she's let her office get into a "rather lamentable state of disarray." She writes articles about classical music for various publications and stays organized with her own system. "As long as I know which heap a paper is in, I can find it--if nobody messes with my heaps," says Miller.

Recently, however, she's sworn a "solemn blood oath" to clean up her act. After building some bookshelves and filling three trash bags full of ancient press releases, she can now enter her workspace without wearing a hard hat.

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