#SWAAYthenarrative

Amusing Truths About Working From Home, As Told By The Self-Employed

Lifestyle

People think the life of a freelancer or someone who works remotely to be full of glamour and free time – lingering lunches, mid-day pedicures, relaxing naps. Such is not the case. If a freelancer wants to stay competitive, they need to be working 24/7, and probably have a lot less free time than their friends who work in offices.


However, they do find some ways to save time – such as forgetting to eat. Or shower. Or get dressed. It's not pretty out there. Some of our self-employed friends share their honest truths about working from home…

Bryce Gruber-Hermon, freelance writer

Even if you write about makeup, it's pretty standard to go days without wearing any.

Dara Avenius, publicist

Oh god...all the delivery guys know my froggy robe.

Wendy Rose Gould, freelance writer

My cats always think phone interviews are an invitation to have a full-fledged conversation with me and will sit outside my closed door meowing profusely as if the world is about to end. Also, my boyfriend (who I live with) also works from home and I love having him as a "co-worker." We get to hang out during the day (hello 3pm hugs and shared lunches) and keep each other motivated!

Megan Zander, freelance writer

Lunch is never the same meal or at the same time. Some days I'm so busy I forget to eat, other days I make a super healthy salad and declare myself a real adult, sometimes I'm stress eating frosting with a spoon as I try to make deadline.

Kate Winick, writer

My biggest occupational hazard is sitting cross-legged on my couch so long that my foot falls asleep without me realizing, and then when I stand up I nearly fall over my coffee table. It's happened...more than once.

Sue Campbell, freelance travel writer

I've been working from home for 30 years. I forget what it's like to dress up to go to an office or commute. I'm happy that the only time I dress well is when I have to go on a press trip.

I've biked to the corner store and realized I was still wearing my slippers when I got there!

Also, looking up at the clock at 5 pm and not remembering whether I had a shower or not, that happens a lot.

Gloria Yang, publicist

I don't always work from home, but when I do, I follow the same schedule. I sit my butt down in front of the computer at 9. If I feel unmotivated, I put makeup on—red lipstick to be exact.

Michele Herrmann, freelance writer

Sometimes my lunch break involves taking a 30-minute nap at about 3 or 4 in the afternoon. It's been a big help.

Patricia Dixon, journalist

My sins cannot be revealed here- alas, there are many. I'm still gainfully and sinfully self-employed.

Rachelle Pachtman, publicist

Your dog barks while you are on important conference call because FedEx is at door. Used to be more of an issue. Not quite as much any more.

Julia Dellitt, marketing expert

I have to really watch the urge to do things around the house instead of work. I'm not a clean freak, but when I work from home, all of sudden it feels like I have *so much free time* to do the dishes, throw in some laundry, organize a drawer.. all those "little" chores end up stealing work time slowly but surely and I always regret it later.

Joanna Fantozzi, food writer

You have no one to blame on getting distracted but yourself, sadly (if you live alone).

Jane Daly, beauty writer

Defiantly 2-3 pm in my robe. I feel a sense of shame every time. Also, my UPS guy added me on FB and I've run into other couriers out and about who usually yell “sorry don't have anything for you today!"

Emily Farris, writer

On the days I don't go out for coffee and make it at home, sometimes I forget to brush my teeth until 4 pm. Because it's so much a part of my getting-ready routine. And yes, I realize how disgusting this is.

Stacey Rene Russell, publicist

Sometimes I get dressed just to feel "normal." But getting dressed is PJs to LuLu Lemon.

Jayne Morehouse, publicist

I get dressed and do hair and makeup before I even come downstairs. But...the cats have been known to jump into a Skype call every now and then. They want to see who else is talking.

Kaitlin Menza, writer

Sometimes my iPhone pedometer app shows under 100 steps because, well, you know. If someone cancels evening plans, like drinks or dinner, it's actually an immense bummer because that means I'm not going outside today (or showering) after all. Those memes about it being such a relief when someone cancels plans no longer apply to me!

Esti Berkowitz, blogger

I get all dressed for motivation purposes and get to work (my laptop on the dining room table) as soon as kids get to school. I barely leave my desk and often forget to make lunch and drink enough water.

Bradley Tuck, publicist

I actually have a rule. I don't do any work until I've showered, had coffee, and then dressed properly in a button down shirt, so that I feel that I'm 'at work'. At weekends, lord, I look like a hot mess , but Monday to Friday I dress as if I work at an agency. In my office with dog hair all over the floor. Go figure.

Amber Browning-Coyle , Executive Producer and Host of Spotlight on Giving and Spotlight on TV

I have been working on my computer in my underwear and when Amazon comes to deliver I'll throw on my big wool coat that hangs next to the door. They totally know I'm almost naked, but thankfully don't say much.

Maureen Pollack, inventor of the Water Slyde

I've done video podcasts with no pants on. I'm so not saying which ones.

Harper Spero, business coach and consultant

Having a Skype call with a client where my hair is done, makeup is on, nice shirt and no pants.

Mindy Beth

When I worked from home my lunch hour was the gym and I can't tell you how many conference calls I have been on and went to the loo and put the phone on mute. Sometimes I would forget it was on mute and be asked to weigh in on a strategy and heard, Oh, I guess she dropped the call. Yikes. The worst is having to video con when you are lazy. Having to brush hair and put on lipstick whilst still in sweats or nighty.

Candice Kilpatrick Brathwaite, social media expert

The highlight of my workday is when my coworkers in Finland are awake to chat on slack. Also I'm usually both pantless and under an electric blanket. I have done a call in the bathtub.

Traci Coulter, publicist

There are days when I get home from a run or a Soul Cycle class only to realize eight hours later I forgot to shower. And there have been days when the building manager would knock on my door for something and say “sorry, didn't think you'd still be in bed" because I'm wearing pjs, at 1 pm. The whole thing about being more productive with office clothes on is a theory I definitely don't believe anymore.

Debra Locker Griffin, publicist

Both of my huge dogs - because one polar bear is not enough - appeared on a group Skype last week.

Sarah Haynes Heath, beauty expert

Things I often do on conference calls: pluck eye brows, cut toenails, inspect for nose hairs, clean kitty litter, make faces in the mirror, get distracted by dirty dishes in the sink, roll my eyes, thank God I can run to Target at any time for things I don't need.

Bonnie Winston, matchmaker

I eat like no one's watching because no one is. A lot of time I eat standing up and sometimes over the sink. I drink straight out of the water bottles and put them back in.

Kaeli Conforti, travel writer

Most of the time, my lunch hours were really shower time followed by a power nap. The hardest part for me was (and still is) having an end time when I work from home. It's always so easy to just say, oh, let me finish this up, and before I know it, it's 10pm!

Samantha Slaven-Bick, publicist

Sometimes I work from the bed in the afternoons while simultaneously binge watching Netflix or Amazon shows. I've been known to pick my son up from assorted classes and extracurricular in pajamas. And then I just do errands like that before heading home.

Beate Chelette, author

Sometimes I only look good up to the waist and what's under the desk is yoga pants and dirty feet

Jason Jepson, publicist

My feet are in my pool and a beer is in my hand at noon almost everyday.

Vicki Winters, blogger and content creator

Sometimes I think about showering and try to remember “when was the last time?"

3 Min Read
Business

Five Essential Lessons to Keep in Mind When You're Starting Your Own Business

"How did you ever get into a business like that?" people ask me. They're confounded to hear that my product is industrial baler wire—a very unfeminine pursuit, especially in 1975 when I founded my company in the midst of a machismo man's world. It's a long story, but I'll try to shorten it.

I'd never been interested to enter the "man's" world of business, but when I discovered a lucrative opportunity to become my own boss, I couldn't pass it up—even if it involved a non-glamorous product. I'd been fired from my previous job working to become a ladies' clothing buyer and was told at my dismissal, "You just aren't management or corporate material." My primary goal then was to find a career in which nobody had the power to fire me and that provided a comfortable living for my two little girls and myself.

Over the years, I've learned quite a few tough lessons about how to successfully run a business. Below are five essential elements to keep in mind, as well as my story on how I learned them.

Find A Need And Fill It

I gradually became successful at selling various products, which unfortunately weren't profitable enough to get me off the ground, so I asked people what they needed that they couldn't seem to get. One man said, "Honey, I need baler wire. Even the farmers can't get it." I saw happy dollar signs as he talked on and dedicated myself to figuring out the baler wire industry.

I'd never been interested to enter the "man's" world of business, but when I discovered a lucrative opportunity to become my own boss, I couldn't pass it up.

Now forty-five years later, I'm proud to be the founder of Vulcan Wire, Inc., an industrial baler wire company with $10 million of annual sales.

Have Working Capital And Credit

There were many pitfalls along the way to my eventual success. My daughters and I were subsisting from my unemployment checks, erratic alimony and child-support payments, and food stamps. I had no money stashed up to start up a business.

I paid for the first wire with a check for which I had no funds, an illegal act, but I thought it wouldn't matter as long as I made a deposit to cover the deficit before the bank received the check. My expectation was that I'd receive payment immediately upon delivery, for which I used a rented truck.

Little did I know that this Fortune 500 company's modus operandi was to pay all bills thirty or more days after receipts. My customer initially refused to pay on the spot. I told him I would consequently have to return the wire, so he reluctantly decided to call corporate headquarters for this unusual request.

My stomach was in knots the whole time he was gone, because he said it was iffy that corporate would come through. Fifty minutes later, however, he emerged with a check in hand, resentful of the time away from his busy schedule. Stressed, he told me to never again expect another C.O.D. and that any future sale must be on credit. Luckily, I made it to the bank with a few minutes to spare.

Know Your Product Thoroughly

I received a disheartening phone call shortly thereafter: my wire was breaking. This horrible news fueled the fire of my fears. Would I have to reimburse my customer? Would my vendor refuse to reimburse me?

My customer told me to come over and take samples of his good wire to see if I might duplicate it. I did that and educated myself on the necessary qualities.

My primary goal then was to find a career in which nobody had the power to fire me and that provided a comfortable living for my two little girls and myself.

Voila! I found another wire supplier that had the right specifications. By then, I was savvy enough to act as though they would naturally give me thirty-day terms. They did!

More good news: My customer merely threw away all the bad wire I'd sold him, and the new wire worked perfectly; he then gave me leads and a good endorsement. I rapidly gained more wire customers.

Anticipate The Dangers Of Exponential Growth

I had made a depressing discovery. My working capital was inadequate. After I purchased the wire, I had to wait ten to thirty days for a fabricator to get it reconfigured, which became a looming problem. It meant that to maintain a good credit standing, I had to pay for the wire ten to thirty days before my customers paid me.

I was successful on paper but was incredibly cash deprived. In other words, my exponentially growing business was about to implode due to too many sales. Eventually, my increasing sales grew at a slower rate, solving my cash flow problem.

Delegate From The Bottom Up

I learned how to delegate and eventually delegated myself out of the top jobs of CEO, President, CFO, and Vice President of Finance. Now, at seventy-eight years old, I've sold all but a third of Vulcan's stock and am semi-retired with my only job currently serving as Vice President of Stock and Consultant.

In the interim, I survived many obstacles and learned many other lessons, but hopefully these five will get you started and help prevent some of you from having the same struggles that I did. And in the end, I figured it all out, just like you will.