Archive for June, 2012

The Pros and Cons of a Home Business

June 29, 2012

OK, admit it. You’ve fantasized about what a cakewalk it would be to work from home. I mean, just imagine: Your commute time becomes about 30 seconds, you can stop and put in a load of laundry at lunchtime, work from your desk in your gym clothes, maybe even stop for a short nap if the mood strikes. What could be better?

Separating fact from fiction is an important task for anyone considering working from home. No longer the purview of envelope-stuffing moms, home offices and telecommuters are proliferating across the business landscape. According to the last U.S. Census report, about 8 percent of the American working population, or about 11.3 million people, worked primarily from home. In addition, those workers who reported working at home at least once per week accounted for 15 percent of total employment, a number that is significantly on the rise when you consider trends in both remote corporate assignments and the growth of home-based businesses.

While there is no longer a stigma attached to working from home, it’s clearly not for everyone. There are stories galore of home-based ventures that have quickly fizzled out and telecommuters who have slid from hero to slacker in the transition from corporate office to dining room table. Clearly, there are some important steps to take before you decide to mix your business environment with home and hearth. Consider these 10 steps to maximizing the probability of a successful work-at-home experience:

1. Know yourself. You have to have a huge tolerance for solitude to sustain working from home on a regular basis. If you’re primarily a social creature or an extrovert, you could find yourself going stir-crazy or talking to the walls. Think carefully about your personality style and what makes you tick before you take the leap.

2. Establish a conducive working environment. A home office should be just what the term implies — an office. While you might be able to make due with a carved-out corner of your bedroom for a short time, if you’re serious about this, you’ll need some dedicated space that is devoted to business. That includes a chair that’s comfortable enough to sit in at the phone and computer for more than 15 minutes.

3. Stick to a schedule. The most successful telecommuters and home-based free agents are those who discipline themselves to keep regular and reliable hours. This doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice the flexibility element that is part of what attracted you to working from home in the first place. But it does mean that if you kid yourself by only working part time at what needs to be a full-time commitment, it will catch up with you.

4. Eliminate distractions. This is probably one of the biggest challenges about working from home. It’s just too easy to take a break and start dinner or chat with your neighbors or take the dog for a walk. When you set up shop, make sure your friends and family understand that just because you’re at home doesn’t mean you are fair game for a cup of coffee and a leisurely conversation whenever they choose to drop by.

5. Stay connected. Although it’s a good idea to avoid the coffee klatch, it’s important to stay in touch with the professional community. Attend local business meetings that are of interest to you. Schedule lunch with colleagues and clients. In other words, keep your network active and alive. Not only will it keep you marketable, it also will keep you from feeling lonely and out of touch.

6. Use technology wisely. If you work from home, it’s vital that you have reliable and professional technology on your side. Have a dedicated phone line that is separate from the one used by your spouse and kids. Invest in a voice mail service so that your messages don’t get lost or garbled. Use a high-quality headset if you spend a lot of time on the phone. Invest in a wireless high-speed Internet connection Make sure your fax machine is in good working order. Choose software and technology services that will make your life easier.

7. Take advantage of services aimed at the small office/home office community. It’s a good idea to use a mail and shipping center vs. standing in line at the post office. And it makes sense to have a mailbox dedicated to your business at one of these facilities so that you can keep your home address private and your mail separate. Buy office supplies online and have them shipped to you. Take advantage of the myriad services provided by copying centers.

8. Rely on professionals when you need professional help. Unless you are in the accounting business, it makes sense to hire a CPA to do your business bookkeeping and tax processing. And when you need a lawyer, have a good one on your side rather than trying to muddle through with do-it-yourself forms. If there is a heavy volume of administrative or clerical work associated with what you do, consider hiring a virtual assistant to provide the support that you need.

9. Establish boundaries. Just as it’s easy to get distracted when you work out of your home, it’s also easy to get consumed. Resist the temptation to hang out in your office at all hours of the day and night. You need a life, too — one that doesn’t have anything to do with your work.

10. Periodically assess how it’s going. The decision to work at home should be one that fits with who you are and enables you to enjoy what you do. If your heart is singing and you look forward to getting started in the morning, great. But if you find yourself dreading having to hole up in that home office one more day and praying for the weekends, something is wrong in this picture. Pay attention to the quality of your experience and be willing to make a change if it’s not working out the way you planned.

Welcome home! Your business is waiting.

Barbara Poole is a Master-Certified Coach and Leadership/Team Development Consultant. She is  President of Success Builders, Inc., Partner/Co-founder of Leading Deeply, LLC, and an affiliate of the Pyramid Resource Group, Inc. Barbara can be reached at

First appeared in the Business Review section of The Post and Courier Monday, May 28, 2012.

C4W Business Member Profile: Judy L. Tatum, Carolina One Real Estate

June 27, 2012

What is your profession? Residential and Commercial Realtor with Carolina One Real Estate.  President of the Charleston Top Producers Club.

What do you enjoy doing outside of your career?  I am a member of the Garden Club of Charleston and the Ladies Benevolent Society (the oldest private charitable institution in America).  I serve on the Board of Governors of the Harbour Club and am a past member of the Board of Directors for the Charleston Concert Association.  I enjoy reading (I never leave the house without my Kindle!), playing bridge, Trivial Pursuit and dining out with friends, and travel.

How long have you been a member of the Center for Women? I just rejoined after a hiatus of several years.

What inspired you to become a member? Jennet has been an inspiration to me since I first met her.  I think that the C4W is doing wonderful things for women in the Lowcountry, and I want to support that effort.

What kind of impact has the Center for Women had on you? I love the idea of women helping other women to succeed.  I came up through the corporate world during the seventies when it was not easy to be a woman in business.  I would love to have had a female mentor to answer my questions, but there were very few women in executive positions back then.  There were no organizations like the C4W to help, no seminars available to give us advice on the issues we faced in what was, and in many ways still remains, a man’s world.  In my current real estate business I see many women in crying need of more education on business and financial issues that are critical to their future.

How has living day-to-day as a woman affected you? I still remember being told, “Here, honey — type this up!” by men who were on a lower executive level than I was.  I remember a job interview with a major pharmaceutical company where the executive came right out and said that I should be staying home, taking care of my husband, and not trying to take a job away from a man with family responsibilities who really needed it.  Things have improved, but we have a long way to go.

What kind of message would you like to send out to women who are trying to succeed in today’s economy? It’s not the economy that determines your success, but your determination that makes your economy a success!  Educate yourself and do everything possible to become the expert in your field.  Put the best interests of your clients ahead of any compensation you may receive, and always do the right thing, no matter what it costs. Be passionate about your business.  If you can’t wait to get up and go to work each day, find another job!

How can people connect with you? 
(Mobile) 843-452-9084

C4W Member Profile: Cindy Cartmell

June 20, 2012

What is your profession? While my title is Vice President of Human Resources & Communications at MWV, my profession is truly people.  I have a wonderful job that allows me to focus on who people really are, what motivates them, and where they can be best positioned to do amazing things.

What do you enjoy doing outside of your career? My personal life is focused on my family and friends.  I have two children, ages 9 and 12, who keep me running around town with all of their activities.  The best part of the day is the conversations we have around the dinner table.  I try to hold that time sacred during the week as it is where I learn the most about what is going on in their worlds.

How long have you been a member of the Center for Women? I’ve been a member of C4W for 5 years.

What inspired you to become a member?   I had lived in Charleston for about 4 years and realized I hadn’t done a great job of networking professionally.  One of my co-workers set up a meet and greet with C4W and after seeing the results of their actions, I was hooked.

What kind of impact has the Center for Women had on you? At MWV we continue to drive strong engagement with the women in our organization.  We created a Women’s Network several years ago, and C4W is one of the local organizations we encourage our employees to get connected with.  Regardless of experience (or title for that matter) we all have something substantial to share with others.  I like that C4W is the type of organization that provides a ‘hand up’ versus a ‘hand out,’ meaning they build skills that can be applied in so many areas of our lives.

How has living day-to-day as a woman affected you?  For the past 10 years I’ve been the only female member of our senior leadership team.  It’s been rewarding, challenging and very educational working with the dynamic group of men on my team.  We’ve learned a lot from each other.  It took me a while to take the position seriously, meaning to understand the breadth of my responsibility to ensure women in our organization get the right level of recognition, development opportunities, and quite frankly time in front of senior leaders.  I’ve learned that women network differently than men.  We have a smaller number of relationships that are deep.  Men have more relationships but often times lack the depth.  They are therefore better networked given they know more people.  I encourage women in our organization to build more networks; to sit at the table in meetings and by all means have a voice.  I’ve challenged women to stretch and take risks.  As a result I’ve had the honor of seeing them do amazing things, both personally and professionally.

What kind of message would you like to send out to women who are trying to succeed in today’s economy?  The important thing to remember is this:  The only thing that gets in your way is yourself.  So many of us can make an exhaustive list of why we can’t do something.  I myself can come up with the best excuses of anyone.  As women we have a bad habit of getting in our own way, over and over again.  As yourself the question “why not?”  Then challenge every single answer you come up with.  Force yourself to, as Nike would say, just do it.  Take the risk.  Make the effort.  Don’t worry about failing.  If we can figure out how to get out of our own way, it’s amazing to see what we can achieve.

How can people connect with you? or 843-740-2017.

C4W Member Profile: Kelly Gaskins

June 13, 2012

What is your profession? I own Charleston Girl LLC. I recently designed and launched my first fragrance line called Charleston Girl.

What do you enjoy doing outside of your career? I love being active. I am a licensed Zumba instructor and I LOVE teaching in my spare time. I love the water so anything related to that, I’m there. I enjoy reading, the theatre (Phantom of the Opera is my favorite), spa trips, animals, festivals, concerts, traveling, dining out & trying new foods, meeting new people & much more.

How long have you been a member of the Center for Women? Just recently joined.

What inspired you to become a member? I had heard about the center before and was always interested in meeting other ambitious & driven women. It is so important to surround yourself with supportive people & positive influences. I am 27 and I’ve had a hard time finding business minded people to hang out with, learn from & support each other. I was recently talking with a member and she raved about your organization and how great her experience had been & that was it for me; I joined!

What kind of impact has the Center for Women had on you?  I recently joined but I am hoping for a positive, proactive & hands-on impact.

How has living day-to-day as a woman affected you?  I have found being in business as a young woman can be difficult. I deal with huge companies that are run by men and sometimes I feel I don’t get the same respect as business man would receive. I have to work harder and be more professional than a man I feel like!! But, I LOVE being a woman!!

What kind of message would you like to send out to women who are trying to succeed in today’s economy? Go for it. If you are ready to put the effort in & you realize once you begin the journey it will change your life, then do it!! I would advise to be prepared, do your research and understand success does not always equal a 9 to 5 job….long hours will be ahead. But if you are passionate about your business it doesn’t matter because you will be driven and ready to do whatever it takes.

How can people connect with you?


C4W Business Member Profile: Kimberly Ritter

June 6, 2012

What is your profession? Your lifetime real estate expert.

What do you enjoy doing outside of your career? Tennis, jogging, the beach, and golf.

How long have you been a member of the Center for Women? Three years.

What inspired you to become a member? I love how the Center for Women inspires and promotes women to become stronger leaders.

What kind of impact has the Center for Women had on you? Increased self confidence and empowerment.

How has living day-to-day as a woman affected you? Felt like it was an uphill battle until I realized I was my own worst enemy. I am proud to be a woman especially one with her own successful business.

What kind of message would you like to send out to women who are trying to succeed in today’s economy? Become empowered and believe in yourself.

How can people connect with you?


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