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Couples who run homebased businesses together can enjoy big benefits, but all marriages pack a potential for problems. Add a homebased business partnership to the mix, and sparks can fly. Scott Gregory and Shirley Siluk Gregory, co-authors of The Home Team: How Couples Can Make a Life and Living by Working at Home (Panda Publishing, $22.95, 888-447-2632), say to avoid these five potential traps to help both your marriage and your business thrive:
1. Misplaced priorities. Your relationship should always take priority over your business. If the company becomes more important than your marriage, you could be headed for big trouble.
2. Overworking. It takes hard work to make a business succeed, but be sure to take time for nonwork activities.
3. Poor communication. Couples must talk openly and frequently about issues affecting the marriage, home and business. It helps if partners clearly define family and business roles, divvying both up fairly to avoid hurt feelings.
4. Forgetting the big picture. It's easy to get bogged down in the crisis du jour. Couples must agree on goals for both family and business.
5. Conflicting personality styles. Diverging points of view can bring creativity and growth to both marriage and business. Think of your differences as opportunities, not roadblocks, and you'll find working together to iron them out brings great rewards.
Lynn H. Colwell is a business writer in Post Falls, Idaho.
Something To Hide?
While homebased businesses have mushroomed in recent years, some clients still question the professionalism of a homebased office. So should you reveal you're homebased?
It depends. In many cases, the nature of the business determines whether you should trumpet your homebased status. Customers also play a role: Consumers tend to be less concerned about working with homebased firms, while large companies may find it disturbing.
Beatriz T. Halbert, co-owner of The Sequoia Group Inc., an Atlanta facility operations and maintenance company, worked from home for three years. During that time, she never revealed her company's location.
"My research indicated [my clients] were interested in outsourcing to small companies, but they were uncomfortable outsourcing to a [homebased business]," Halbert says.
Parents of young children often find revealing the nature of their site is unavoidable. "Clients may call when a child is nagging me, so I always tell them I have a home office," says Judith Lederman, owner of JSL Publicity and Marketing Inc. in Irvington, New York.
Many entrepreneurs take the middle ground. "The larger businesses I work for may or may not know I work from home," says Pam Paris, owner of Paris Graphics, a computer graphic design firm in Hanover, Maryland. "I don't hide it, but if it doesn't come up, I don't broadcast it, either."
You've already paid for them, and they don't do any good stashed in a drawer. Here are some ways to capitalize on your business cards:
- Post your business cards anywhere they're allowed--libraries, colleges, supermarkets.
- Get creative with your cards. If you're a private eye, for instance, how about slipping them between the pages of books in the local law library?
- Never pass up a chance to pass out your cards. Whenever you pay for gas or make a purchase in a store, if you think the salesperson could use your product or service or might know someone who could, give him or her your card.
- Include business cards when you pay bills by mail. You never know whether the person opening your bill might need your service.
You can benefit from potential customers' business cards, too. Here's how: Contact a local restaurant or business that complements yours. Ask if you can place a fishbowl near the cash register. (If necessary, barter your service or product in exchange.) Post a sign on the fishbowl inviting customers to drop in their business cards to be included in a weekly (or daily) drawing for a prize.
If you run a catering service, for example, the grand prize winner could get 50 percent off a catered dinner party. Offer 15 percent off the first order to anyone who enters. Once you collect the cards, start calling to remind participants about the discount.
JSL Publicity and Marketing, (800) 575-3263, JudySL@aol.com
Paris Graphics, 1408 Fairbanks Dr., Hanover, MD 21076, (410) 519-5388
The Sequoia Group Inc., SEQUOIA_GROUP@msn.com