Homebased business owners rarely describe their balancing task as clear-cut. Between clients who might take advantage of her homebased accessibility and a husband who laments her occasional need to work during "family time," Tammy Harrison sometimes strives for balance that just doesn't come. As a marketing consultant and graphic designer in Logan, Utah, Harrison has had clients pressure her into meeting their deadlines and delivering a project while she was nearing term on her pregnancy. Meanwhile, her husband pushes Harrison in the other direction, demanding more time for the family, making her delve into her personal time in order to finish projects.
Balance can be fleeting and hard sought, she admits. Other than those times when the kids obey the "quiet rules," or when she works early or late, balance is self-imposed two days each week and on the weekends, when Harrison closes shop to be with the family.
"I never take on a new job without making sure my clients understand family comes first," she says. "They know I turn the phones off in the afternoons for the family nap. They know they have to give me at least a week to accomplish a task. But they also know I love what I do and therefore can help them succeed."
Marilyn Milne launched her homebased PR firm, Marilyn Milne Public Relations Services (www.prpr.com), in Eugene, Oregon, so she could raise a family and head back to the corporate tower when her daughter entered grade school. That was in 1987. Now her 12-year-old comes home each day to find mom still working from the converted garage at the family's 1920s-era residence.
All along, a positive, professional attitude and the latest technology, like a portable telephone headset to wear when working in the garden or preparing a meal in the kitchen, have helped Milne find balance and success. She selects only those clients who appreciate her gig. Early on, people chided her for being a housewife who worked on the side; now she's known as a communications executive whose office happens to be at home.
When vacation time comes, Milne doesn't bring a cellular phone so some frantic client can reach her. And she rarely checks e-mail; she doesn't own a laptop.
But by achieving balance at home, Milne has found balance in work. Several years ago, a potential client was aghast when Milne said she worked from home. Milne recently ran into the same woman; this time she was enamored with Milne's homebased lifestyle.
"Attitudes change. Times change," Milne says. "People want balance in their own lives and admire it when they see others who've found it themselves. When I first started 13 years ago, I hid the fact that I worked from home. Now I don't hide it."