#43 You’re Cheap, I’m Lonely, Let’s Hang Out – Building a Million Dollar Business Part Time

Posted on January 5, 2011 by

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By Kathy Korman Frey as part of the MDPT Series

Being a solopreneur with a virtual staff can be isolating.  Today my day – and probably year – was brightened when my husband moved into my office. Well, officially he moved in last week, but today we made it look like a place that could be inhabited by humans.  Here he is:

He has fully outsourced every part of his business, and let go of his office space saving $18,000 a year. Nice honey! He’s launching another business basically teaching people how to run a million-dollar-plus business from one desk.  (He’ll be on CBS national radio on Friday…I’ll update with the link here if they stream). Because he is my husband, and we’re sort of heading toward this business/women’s education empire together, I have welcomed him into my home office: The Garage Mahal.

Loneliness and isolation is something women entrepreneurs deal with all the time. Maybe other entrepreneurs (e.g., “male,” “wookie”, etc.)  also feel isolated.  Here’s something I learned recently when prepping for a presentation to investor/advisors: According to the US Census, there are 7.8 million female entrepreneurs (i.e. women-owned businesses in the US). 6.9 million of these have no employees. So ladies, it’s just us. Everyday.

There are 7.8 million female entrepreneurs (i.e. women-owned businesses in the US). 6.9 million of these have no employees.

We don’t do it by accident. Some of us do it to have more flexibility, or to save time commuting, or because we can.  As an outgrowth of the issues mentioned in this earlier post, I worked at home more and more each year to provide stability for my kids…one in particular. We have a sitter, sure, but to know I’m around and be part of “Plan B” was a good thing.

Then, and I’m not sure when, working at home started not becoming a good thing.  It can dampen one’s “verve.” For instance,  I have three different investors, and people at the State Department, and a major literary agent, and women-at-large tell me they love what I’m doing with the Hot Mommas Project and our new Sis U/New Sisterhood seminars. All sounds peachy, right? So what’s the problem.  I just wasn’t quite ready to move forward. Now, as I look over and see my husband…I feel supported…even though we’re not talking. We’re nerding out, saying nothing, and I feel supported. And it is good.

Common questions:

Q: Won’t you kill each other? I could never share an office with my spouse.

A: We actually shared space a majority of the last 10 years (I started my own business 10 years ago). But, then I was given an office at GW (where I teach) and in the off-time decided to be home more…and we drifted away from that formula.

Q: How is there enough space for you two and all your stuff for two businesses?

A: We have a separate structure on our property which has a big room for the office over the garage. It’s my writing “artist’s studio” and quiet haven.  So, because we don’t have to share space with the “normal” house, we are able to have something master-bedroom sized which holds a few desks and a conference table. It’s the only good pay-back for the pain of building a house from the ground up…in DC…which is a nightmare on that sort of stuff.

Q: How do you deal with phone calls in an open office environment?

A: He’ll step into another room, or I’ll have on earphones with music playing. When I’m on a call where it needs to be quiet, I’ll just let him know. He also has a noise cancelling earphone for his phone.

These are all the questions I can think of. Have more, or thoughts on this, please post below.

PARTING THOUGHTS: As I hinted in this earlier post, I’ve spent so much time on “building the model” and focusing on “traditional” success, that I forgot about the human who is the entrepreneur. When Mama ain’t happy, ain’t no body happy. And, today, Mama is happy with the proverbial “all”: A business model investors like, a supportive and non-lonely office environment, and a beginning of a year that is looking great.  As you all know from reading over past MDPT (Million Dollar Part Time) posts, it’s not been easy….but it feels good to be here…right now.

*****

ABOUT:  Building a Million Dollar Business Part-Time (MDPT) is an insiders, business-junkie series within the Hot Mommas Project blog. Be sure to turn into our regularly-scheduled programming, including these cool posts.

Hot Mommas Project is the award-winning research of Kathy Korman Frey, faculty at the George Washington University School of Business, CFEE.  On January 31 of 2010, the project became the world’s largest women’s case study library providing free, online, global access to female role models and mentors to raise self-efficacy among women & girls in formal and informal learning environments.

Do you know a dynamic woman over the age of 18? Be part of the solution for women and girls. Nominate her to share her story and lessons, help other women and the next generation, and have a chance to get published in a major Prentice Hall Textbook. Nominate a dynamic woman HERE. Browse winning cases HERE.

P.s. Spending more time in the office has led me to enhance my Hot Mommas Project soundtrack (click here). Loving Lily Allen, Gorillaz, Fugees, Gnarls Barkley right now.

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