Work-from-Home Doesn't Have to Be a Stigma When your home is your office, it's all about presentation. Prove you're professional from the get-go.

By Lesley Spencer Pyle

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Some people think that hiring a home-based professional to help their business is a gamble. Home-based entrepreneurs aren't productive or professional enough, right? They get distracted easily. There's always a kid needing something, so the work you need may not get done on time.

Of course, those statements aren't true, but those are the types of concerns some clients have when considering whether to hire a home-based professional. "There is a stigma attached to being a work-at-home, an unwritten belief that if you've made nurturing your children a priority, you are somehow less of a businessperson," says Pat Williams, a home-based virtual assistant.

Your job is to convince them otherwise.

  1. Play the part. The best way to show potential clients how professional you are is to prove it from the very beginning.

    "The work-at-home stigma has stuck with me," says Karin King of The Telecommute Resource. "Some people may believe they can take advantage of your time because you are at home, and nothing can be further from the truth. There were times when my ex would just leave the kids with me while I was trying to program, and others would call all day long. Now I just have my emergency phone and business phones on during the day."

    Set firm boundaries with friends, family and neighbors upfront. Don't be afraid to say no to neighborly favors during work time. Politely let them know you'd be happy to help when you are off work at 4 p.m.
  2. Have the right equipment. The kind of software and hardware you are going to need varies considerably, depending on what type of work you do from home. Generally, a computer, fax, phone line and internet connection are the minimum requirements. You may also need to be able to communicate through IM, or instant messaging. Similar to a chat room, IM is a fast means of communicating with one or more people in real time over the internet. Yahoo and AOL offer programs, as does Skype.
  3. Have the right environment. A dedicated space is mandatory, and its helpfulness cannot be overstated. If you are taking calls from your client and you can't find what you need, or she can hear the washing machine in the background, you may be presenting a less-than-professional image.
  4. Watch your marketing. "If I am going to hire a virtual assistant, I want to know how efficient you are, how good a job you will do for me." says Scott Stratten, the mind behind Un-Marketing Viral Marketing consulting. "When I hire you, it's about my needs. When you trumpet the fact you are a work-at-home mom, you are sending me the message that your kids will take priority.

    "Your current family situation is irrelevant to me as a potential client," Stratten says. "I need to know about your professional experience. I don't want to know whether or not you have distractions."

    That's why Jessica Smith, chief mom advisor at MomForce.com, doesn't mention motherhood when she markets herself. Instead, she describes herself as "a consultant who happens to work virtually."
  5. Gather support. Growing numbers of moms are finding that working from home is extremely rewarding, both personally and professionally. While some may fear becoming isolated by working at home, there is more support than ever for mothers who are business owners, with groups such as HireMyMom.com, the National Association of Women Business Owners and Home Based Working Moms, an online community and professional association of moms who work at home or want to.

Lesley Spencer Pyle is the founder and president of HomeBasedWorkingMoms.com and HireMyMom.com , and she is the author of The Work-at-Home Workbook: Your Step-by-Step Guide on Selecting and Starting the Perfect Home Business for You. Pyle has been working from home for more than 13 years.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Related Topics

Leadership

5 Habits of Leaders at the Top of the Ladder

Here's a checklist of must-do's for company leaders. Use it daily.

Business News

Bumble Is Laying Off Over 30% of Workforce as Gen Z Moves Away From Dating Apps

The company revealed its restructuring plans during a Q4 2023 earnings report.

Starting a Business

How Can You Make Sure Your Business Will Survive Anything? Try These 3 Proven Strategies

No matter how uncertain the economy is, you can survive anything as long as you prepare. Here are a few strategies to consider.

Marketing

7 Ways to Create a Seamless Marketing Campaign Across All Platforms

Achieving cross-platform harmony requires strategic goal-setting, customized content optimization, and a mix of paid and organic efforts.

Business News

Oprah Winfrey Announces She's Leaving WeightWatchers' Board, Company Stock Plummets

The news comes just months after Winfrey admitted to using weight loss medication to aid her health journey.

Business News

Amazon's $1 Billion Innovation Fund Is Looking to Invest in a Specific Kind of Startup

The company's Innovation Fund invests in startups that focus on robotics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and autonomy.