The Home-Based Business Advantage
by Phil Hanson
You awake to the alarm at 6:00 a.m. After a quick “splash and go” in the shower you take care of your other personal grooming needs and dress for work.
By a quarter to seven you’re ready for some breakfast. While you’re deciding what to fix you think, ruefully, that whoever coined the term “breakfast” got it bass ackwards; what it should have been is “fast break.” You really need one, today.
You decide you only have time for toast this morning, so you drop in a couple slices of whole wheat bread and start the toaster. While you’re waiting for the toast to pop up you fill your coffee mug.
Never one to waste time, you sit at the table, sip your coffee, and do a final proofread and edit of the report you worked on until midnight last night; it’s due at the meeting of department heads at 8:30 this morning, and you want to be sure you’ve got it right. Preoccupied, you forget all about the toast.
Fifteen minutes later you’re satisfied that the report is accurate and complete. Your coffee mug is nearly empty, and you suddenly realize that your toast hasn’t popped up yet. Once again, you’ve forgotten to plug in the toaster.
Rats! Time is running short and you need to be on the road five minutes ago. Still, you need to put something in your stomach besides that witch’s brew you call coffee. Without something to counteract the coffee, it will eat through your stomach lining before you back out of the driveway.
A few seconds pass as you jam the plug into the wall outlet and watch the toaster elements glow red. Satisfied that this time the toast really will get done, you turn your attention to the morning newspaper, where a headline catches your eye.
You’re well into the article (continued on page A-8) when the stench of burning toast assails your nostrils. Acrid smoke fills the kitchen. You lunge for the plug just as the smoke alarm goes off.
Vigorous waving of the newspaper to fan the air beneath the alarm silences its shrill bleating. A quick inspection reveals that both toast and toaster are . . . well, toast. Breakfast is now officially over and, since you didn’t actually have to eat it, it didn’t take as long as you’d expected, so you’ve saved a few minutes.
By the time you drop toast and toaster into the garbage can it’s 7:10. On a good day it takes you 55 minutes to make the 22-mile commute to the office, but so far, today hasn’t been a good day. Today, you’re gonna be late for work no matter what you do. You grab your coat and briefcase and sprint for the car.
As you pull away from the house you congratulate yourself on having the presence of mind to remember your briefcase. How many times have you forgotten it in the past? Too many to count. Not today, however.
Hunger and bad coffee cause a rumbling in your stomach but you wince and suck it up, knowing that that problem can be easily remedied after you give your report to . . .. Report?
Argh! You may have remembered the briefcase, but you forgot the report. It’s still lying on the kitchen table, right where you left it. You hang a hard right, then three more in quick succession, managing to knock 4½ seconds off your previous best time for driving around the block.
Pulling away from the house for the second time, you glance at the fuel gauge, see its needle pegged on “empty.” It dawns on you that you forgot to put gas in your car last night. Prior experience tells you there’s not enough gas to get all the way to work. The last time the fuel gauge hit “empty” you made it exactly 4.7 miles before the engine sputtered and died. This is still fresh in your mind because it happened just last week
Fortunately, the nearest gas station is only six blocks from your house. Unfortunately, the engine sputters and dies as you pull onto the lot. Fortunately, you have enough momentum to coast all the way to the pumps. Unfortunately, there are three cars lined up at the pumps ahead of you; 40 feet is the closest you can get. Fortunately, your commuter car is a Honda Civic, not a Hummer H2, so pushing it the final 40 feet does not present an insurmountable problem.
Ten minutes later you squirt ten bucks worth of gas into the tank and make an insane dash for the customer service counter inside the mini mart. While you stand in line you lament the days when ten bucks bought you enough gas to run the car for a week. Today, it bought you enough gas to get to work and back to the gas station. Unless you remember to fill up tonight, you’ll be repeating this scenario in the morning.
While you’re standing in line, your stomach rumbles and grumbles, eliciting curious stares from some of the other patrons. You’re afraid one of them will file a complaint against you for disturbing the peace. The best way around that, you decide, is to feed the beast. When you pay for your gas, you also pay for a glazed jelly doughnut.
Big mistake, that jelly doughnut! You discover this when you take your first bite of it as you maneuver your car into traffic. As a big glop of jelly lands on the front of your suit, jelly isn’t the only red you see.
Although the napkin you used to pick up the doughnut seemed sufficiently large at the time, it now proves to be pitifully small, almost useless for cleaning up the mess. It is, however, of sufficient size to spread the sticky mess around. By the time you finish cleaning up you manage to transfer syrupy glaze and raspberry jelly from the front of your suit to your fingers, to the seat belt and shoulder harness, to the steering wheel, to the gearshift knob, to your briefcase handle, to the glove compartment door.
Virtually every surface within arm’s reach is now contaminated. To make matters worse, the woefully inadequate napkin is stuck to your fingertips and you can’t let go of it.
It’s 8:25 when you pull into the employee’s parking lot behind your company’s office building. Some idiot has parked in your reserved space, but you’re lucky enough to find an empty space on the outer fringes of the lot. You grab your briefcase and bail out of the car, transferring some of the sticky residue to your car keys, the inner door handle, the arm rest, the seat upholstery and the outer door handle in the process.
By the time you burst through the doors, you’re exactly a half-hour late for work, but just in time for the meeting. You head directly toward the conference room. As you cross the lobby you smile sheepishly and give a friendly wave to the receptionist. She, too, is stressed; her day hasn’t started out too well, either. She makes a snide comment about you being late (again) and this causes you to blink in surprise. Because it’s still early and you’re not yet coordinated enough to blink both eyes at the same time, she mistakes your one-eyed blink for a wink, and threatens a sexual harassment lawsuit against you and the company.
Her acid invective sends your blood pressure spiraling off the chart. Your heart pounds in your chest, and red and black spots form and dance before your eyes. You suddenly feel dizzy and your field of vision goes gray around the edges.
Relax, you tell yourself. Take it easy. Don’t let it get to you. It goes with the territory. It’s all part of making a living. Your inner voice has a soothing effect and your nerves settle down.
You take a deep breath and open the door, leaving behind a sticky residue on the door handle. By the time you enter the conference room you appear calm, but your gut tells you that it’s shaping up to be another stressful day at the rat races.
Or . . .!
You awake to the alarm at 6:00 a.m. You slip out of bed, don your “sweats,” do a few stretches to warm up, then enjoy an invigorating 20-minute workout on the Bow-Flex.
Okay, okay, so maybe working out wasn’t so enjoyable when you first made it part of your daily routine, but you stuck with it and now you look forward to it. Your blood pressure, cholesterol and weight are down, but your energy levels, concentration and critical thinking skills are up. You look, feel and act ten years younger than you are, and you wouldn’t trade the new you for anything.
After the Bow-Flex workout you go for a run, taking a circuitous route through your neighborhood that allows you to run for 20 minutes and which finishes at a point that requires a brisk ten-minute walk to return home. For you, this is one of the best times of the day.
Short though it is, this is your time, a time given to reflection, to planning, to decision-making, not to mention improving your health. Although to the casual observer you don’t seem to be doing much of anything, you know it’s one of your most productive times of the day.
A neighbor, a corporate drone just like many other corporate drones who inhabit your middle-class neighborhood, honks and waves as he drives by on his way to work. You return his wave, and watch as he casts a wistful glance at you over his shoulder. He wonders what makes you different, his expression one of envy.
It wasn’t too long ago that you were a corporate drone just like your neighbor. Unlike your neighbor, you realized that the only way to get out of a rut, especially a dead-end rut, is to stop digging yourself in deeper and start looking for a way out.
Your personal turning point came when you fully understood how population density, global competition, global climate changes, environmental damage, endangered natural resources, energy shortages and a host of other problems threaten food production, transportation, and other vital human support systems.
When you realized that in a few short years the global economy would change forever, that, indeed, the changes had already begun, you discovered that you held the keys to your own future. When you understood that sustainable practice was the only guarantee of long term economic survival, you knew exactly what you had to do.
After some initial planning, you gave your two-week notice at work and, with support from your family, you launched a home-based business. A month after you gave notice your former employer passed out pink slips to half of its white-collar work force. Had you stayed, you, too, would have fallen under the ax.
Now, you work for the best boss in the world – yourself. You call the shots, do the work, reap the profits. Yes, there’s still some stress involved, but it’s the kind of stress that comes from meeting challenges, not from enduring frustrations.
When you think of all the benefits self-employment provides, you have to admit that missing the daily commute ranks near the top of the list. Working at home frees up two hours a day, time that you now devote to self-improvement and to your family. And, because your car stays parked in the driveway most of the time, you save almost $80 a month on gas, savings that are now paying for your Bow-Flex.
As you let yourself in through the front door, you know exactly how the rest of your day will play out. Next on your agenda is a shower, after which you’ll dress for work. Then, you’ll spend an hour going over a proposal you’re about to pitch to a new client. At nine o’clock you’ll meet that new client for breakfast at a nice restaurant located four blocks from your house. After breakfast, for which you’ll pick up the tab, you’ll return home, client in tow, to negotiate some of the finer points of your proposal and learn more about your client’s needs and expectations.
You expect to wrap up the day’s business with your new client before noon, then spend about two hours completing a project for another client. A third client promised to stop by in mid-afternoon to drop off a check for the balance owed on a project you completed for her last week. After that, the rest of the day is yours.
Your workday hasn’t even started yet and already you find yourself smiling; you’re thinking to yourself that gainful employment just doesn’t get any better than this.