Last week I introduced you to a few bloggers I know who work from home, Miranda Grimm and Anna Thurman. This week you’ll hear from Leisa Good, a virtual assistant and owner of GBS Virtual Office Solutions. Here’s what she had to tell me about her work from home experiences.
How did you get started working from home?
I actually got started working from home in 2007. I had been planning for it for two years prior to that. I actually loved my day job, but the commute was killing me. I had to commute two hours one way, so I began exploring things that I could do from home. I wanted to be 110% prepared when the time came. The virtual assistance model looked good to me, because it was basically what I was doing anyway at my day job. So over a period of time, I named my company GBS Virtual Office Solutions.
Did you get pulled into any work from home scams?
No, I was fortunate that I had really done my homework. Now, having said that, there have been work-at-home companies that I would have rather not worked at due to the way they explained their position or structured their pay. However, these companies really weren’t scams just not transparent with what the job really entailed or how the pay structure really worked. Many times I ended up wasting a lot of valuable time training and not being compensated for it as well as buying equipment only to have the company end the contract due to poor management. This is why I prefer and usually have more private clients in my virtual assistant practice.
How did people react when you started working from home – did any of them tell you to “go find a real job?” How did you respond?
In the beginning, there were those who really didn’t get what I did. However, over time when they saw how well that I was doing, and it became a matter of me helping them to do the same thing. There were a few people who said get a “real job”. However, once I asked them what a real job was and then asked them how secure their own job was–they got the message. I also informed them that this was the 21st Century, and with technology like it was, I did not need to leave my house to make money.
I also informed them that if I didn’t have a real job, then I would not be paying “real” taxes.
How do you set boundaries with your friends and family so you can accomplish what you need to?
In the beginning, they would stop over and expect to see me. Then I “hired” my mother-in-law to be my receptionist/gatekeeper for these people stopping in unannounced. She was actually living with us at the time and need something to do.
She would hand them a magazine in the waiting room ( AKA my living room) and ask them if they had an appointment. Then she would tell them to wait until the next available time came to see me. Sometimes she would even talk them half-to-death (something she does easily). So, they eventually began to get the message that it may be several hours before I could come out of my office.
Now, I have a sign on my front door.
How do you keep yourself focused and motivated?
I exercise, take vitamins, and don’t spend too much time on social media. I also plan what I am going to do on my Google calendar. My life can be flexible, but I work better and more productively with a schedule.
How do you balance working from home with your other responsibilities?
My husband and I are empty nesters, so there are ways to do that. However, the challenging things are the unexpected doctor visits, deaths in the family, etc. In other words, the things that you really can’t plan for. So, what I do is work ahead as much as is humanly possible.
What do you find most stressful about working from home, and what do you do to relieve the stress?
I think that the most stressful thing about working from home is juggling home and work as well as a variety of companies and private clients all on different time schedules and time zones. To relieve the stress, I over communicate via email and keep everyone informed as to my availability and where we are on a particular project.
What advice would you give to someone who’s thinking of working from home?
Do your research and be resourceful. So much of working from home is being able to find your own clients and work. So, be prepared to spend at least one-third of your day looking for work or for clients. In other words, doing non-billable things.