Following on from my last article that you can read here, I thought I’d discuss some of the realizations about running such a business that I have learned over the years from being a stay at home working dad.
Communication is your first priority when planning your business. Get it sorted before you do anything else and you won’t regret it. Sorted in YOUR HEAD I mean.
What are your priorities in this business? Get these straight because these priorities will dictate how you approach the communication aspects of your business. I’ve written a bit about sorting priorities here if you’re interested.
My priorities were to put Lilia first, and that meant being there for her. I wanted to be that 100% reliable solid rock in her life from day one, and clearly If I were to spend my days meeting with people, this would not happen. ‘Stay at home’ truly meant ‘stay at home,’ so the meetings had to occur either very locally or using technology to facilitate.
One of my work colleagues I had never met face to face, for possibly the first 2 years of our relationship. Then one day we actually passed near his house, and we were all able to meet. It was great, Lilia was excited to meet the man that played online computer games with her. Rose and I just wanted to hug him. Can you build trust with someone without actually ‘shaking hands’? Yes definitely. So get over it, you do not need to ‘squeeze the hand’ its just convention. Meetings are great, but most of the time it’s not essential.
When you start to look you will find countless online services that facilitate communication. My favorites are WhatsApp, email, and Skype. Even text messaging has its uses. Which service you use for a particular communication will fall broadly into 2 types, immediate and deferred.
You meet somebody in the street or phone them and they answer, call someone on Skype or whatever, that’s immediate. You ask the person a question and they’re immediately put on the spot for an answer.
Deferred is a far more relaxed way to communicate. By using deferred communication methods its essential that you do NOT expect an immediate answer. If its an emergency don’t text them, CALL them. You can reply to a deferred communication at a time that suits you best when you can give your attention and expertise to the communication most effectively.
Give yourself, your clients and your co-workers a break, communicate with them using deferred technologies whenever possible, and get the best out of them and you.
If you’re dealing with a small child, you don’t really want immediate communication if you can help it. It’s essential that you do not let people dictate to you what is important. It may be important, and it may be very important to them, but remember your priorities.
THE number one most important communication you have with a potential client is their communication with your website if you have/need one. A website is always work in progress, and so it should be. Your website should offer the modes of communication that you wish to use to communicate with your clients. Freephone numbers are good, skype and email addresses can’t be beaten. Make sure your answerphone message gives the right impression because you will be using it A LOT.
Plan how you’re going to construct your business with a clear picture of your priorities. Avoid immediate communication methods as best you can, they will rarely fit in with your lifestyle. Those that you do want to have, find the time of day that is best for you and schedule any immediate communications for then. (For me it was often after Lil was in bed – there was no POINT trying to talk before then!)
Next time I’ll write about crisis management the next step in making a stay at home business that lets you spend as much time as possible with your child.