Do well-meaning friends and relatives ever ask you when you’re getting a “real” job? Do they try setting you up with interviews? Just pop by your house in the middle of the day, because you’re “not doing anything”? Or – my favorite – do they ever comment on how easy your life must be now that you’re “not working”?
Being an entrepreneur – especially if your business is online – seems to give everyone license to question your work ethic. Unless you’re sitting in an office, slaving away on a computer all day, people don’t want to take you seriously.
So, what is it about home-based businesses that allows others to feel like you don’t work as much as they do (or that you don’t work at all)?
I’m just going to go out on a limb here and say they treat you that way because YOU LET THEM. If you’re like me, you get embarrassed when someone asks you if you’ve been looking for work. You feel sheepish when you admit that, no, you haven’t been setting up interviews. You allow them to make you feel inferior.
If you want others to take you seriously, you have to take yourself seriously. Here’s how to make it clear – to yourself and others – that your business is no joke:
Set Clear Boundaries
Creating a space (and the time) for your business can be hard when you work out of the home, but it is the number one thing you can do to ensure success. Make yourself a designated work zone, even if it’s just a little corner in your bedroom, and don’t allow anything (or anyone) else into that area. Set up a desk or table, ensure that you have all the proper supplies, and for the love of God, shut the door! Everyone needs to know that when you’re in that space, it’s your work time, and you can’t be disturbed – hang up a sign if you need to!
Make a Schedule
It’s unrealistic to think other things will never pop up, but making a schedule for yourself helps you stick to your goals and be more productive. If you know that you do your best work between 10am – 2pm, set that time aside for business. Schedule doctor appointments, parent-teacher conferences, and phone calls around it. And if an unexpected visitor pops around during your busy time, tell them to go away. You’re working – they can come back when you’re free.
Dress for Success
I’ll admit it - I’m guilty of going to the gym in the morning and staying in those same clothes all day long. That is both gross, and not conducive to work. It not only makes me feel lazy and relaxed, but it causes others to not take me seriously. I mean, come on: if I answer the door in running shorts and a tank top, is anyone really going to think that I’m in here working?
When someone asks you about your business – or when they suggest that you don’t actually have one – be sure of yourself. Even the best of us can become tongue-tied when we’re put on the spot, but you need to know your value and how to express that to others. Take the time to work on your elevator pitch and know what to say when you need to talk about your business. Be proud when you tell people what you do!
Make Some Money!
Lastly – it’s hard for people to not take you seriously when you’re rolling in the dough. Nothing makes your hard work more evident than having a ton of clients - and the money to show for it. You may not be there yet, but if you keep working hard and taking yourself seriously, you WILL be a success.