For all the creative brand owners who work at home or who are trying to balls up and quit their day job so they can work from home, I’m curious to hear the responses you get when you tell people that.

I don’t mean what they say.

I mean the response that clearly flashes over their faces for the brief second before they nod politely and say something like “Oh, that’s nice.”

I find the not-so-well-hidden responses from people I don’t know range from: “Her husband must be supporting her while she chases that silly little dream,” to “Man, she must be really smart,” to “I bet she sits at home all day and watches reruns of Gossip Girl while painting her nails. I want her life.”

From people I know the responses can be anywhere from: “Silly woman. She’ll be begging the workforce to take her back in 6 months,” to “I bet I could call her whenever to help me run errands/babysit my child/do other dumb shit normal working people couldn’t,” to “I bet she sits at home all day and watches reruns of Gossip Girl while painting her nails. I want her life.”

If you are a creative brand owner who works from home (or is trying to work from home) don’t expect people to understand your home-based business.

Now, don’t get me wrong, some people get it. They really understand and respect your home-based business. God bless those people. And some people may not understand it completely, but they respect you enough to take your home-based business seriously.

But some people have no clue, or they don’t take you seriously or they may even think they are better than you because they have a “real job.”

These are the kinds of people who will call you right in the middle of a workday and expect you to be able to chat with them for an hour because their boss just went home sick and they have to tell you about what little Jimmy did at his birthday party last weekend, and you really aren’t doing anything, but sitting at home, so you really gotta hear it.

They will expect you to be available on gchat to ramble on about dumb stuff like how hot their new neighbor is and how dog-ugly his wife is, because you have no life with your “little home-based business” so you have to live vicariously through them.

They expect you to be able to take a two hour break to pick up little Jimmy from school, take him to soccer practice then drop him off at their office, because they have to work late, despite the fact that you’re on “a deadline.” Really? A deadline? You don’t have a boss, therefore you don’t have a deadline. Go pick up my damn kid.

They think your life is one big, fat bottle of PTO.

And then there’s that part of you that may not totally get what it means to work from home either.

That part of you that says “Oh yeah, I’m just going to turn on my favorite TV show as background-noise,” when you know you are easily distracted.

That part of you that says “I’ll just work from my bed today.” when you know you’re probably just going to fall asleep.

That part of you that says “If I’m working for myself, I’ll never have to do things I don’t want to do.”

Working for yourself is still work. It can be glorious, self-fulfilling work, but it’s still work.

Here are some tips for creative brands who work from home or who are thinking about working from home.

1. learn to ignore calls. people will call you. they will expect you to be able to “just chat.” ignore them.

1a. Learn to get people off the phone. Because some calls you can’t, with good conscience, ignore, I have to add an attachment to this item. You gotta learn how to get people off the phone quickly. “I’m working. Can I call you back later?” seems to work. Hanging up on them seems to work too.

2. set your office hours and stick to them.

I work best starting at 5 a.m. every day. Some people work best starting at noon. Some people start when they start and work until they are “finished” for the day. IMO, setting specific hours works best, because you train your mind and body to be up and running at certain times.

At this point, unless I’m up really late the night before, my body can wake at 5 on its own.

If you have a spouse at home or kids, who are old enough to fend for themselves, post your office hours on your office door, then close the door. The closed door and the posted notice, may help them think twice about bothering you. Notice I said “may.”

3. don’t be lazy.

Seriously. Don’t. If you know you have to get something done today, don’t put it off until tomorrow just because you don’t have someone looking over your shoulder to make sure you do it.

4. keep the bottom line in mind.

Whether you’re just thinking about having a home-based business or you already have one, do you know how much you need to make every week, month or whatever interval is important to your situation? What about taxes? What about health insurance? What about an emergency fund?

Do you know what your daily productivity has to be to make that number happen? Know it. Own it. Achieve it. Then grow your profit.

5. take reasonable breaks. enjoy your life. don’t grind yourself into powder.

Take a reasonable lunch break. Take a shower. Get outdoors to get some fresh air. Get some exercise.

Please don’t sit at your workdesk all day beading necklaces, then go to bed, get up and do it all over again.

Take breaks. Reward yourself in little ways for your hard work. Actually enjoy being your own boss.

This is something I, myself, need to work on. I work harder for myself than I’ve ever worked for anyone else and I can still be a pretty bitchy boss.

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