Working from home – the good, the bad, and the ugly

Our frequent contributor, a wonderful instructor — and a successful business owner — Ms. Kim asks a very powerful question in today’s post:  “Can you run a professional home-based business and still be considered a “nice person”?”

One of the very best things about working from home – aside of course from the extra income –  is that I get to make all the decisions.  If I need to take a day off, no one tells me that I can’t – I simply don’t take appointments for that day!  If I need to spend an extra ten or fifteen minutes with my client, I don’t worry that my boss is breathing down my neck to finish each appointment in 50-60 minutes. The decisions are mine!  I decide how much time I need to adequately service my client, clean and disinfect my room and equipment, and set up for my next client.   It is a wonderful thing to be in charge of your own day!  That said… there are some decisions which are not fun to make.  But this is part of having your own business, and if you choose to work from home, then it is important that you are strong enough to make the tough decisions as well as the easy ones.  I had to do that just last week.

Before I begin, let me just tell you that I have a really great clientele.  Super nice people, appreciative of my services, respectful of my time, and loyal, repeat customers.  But as we all know, nothing in life is perfect.  There will always be a client or two, who is not so respectful of your time.  They look at your home business as more of a ‘hobby’ for you, and think nothing of last-minute cancellations, or calling 5 minutes before to tell you they would like to reschedule for an hour later, and then get frustrated when you tell them you don’t have an opening an hour later.  They think that you are sitting at home all day waiting for ONLY them.   In theory, it seems easy to say “If they don’t comply with my rules, then I don’t want them as clients”.   I agree totally… In theory!!   In reality however, let’s face it.  You hate to lose a steady customer.  But you can’t let them take advantage of you either.   It can be a little bit overwhelming to know where exactly to draw that line.

I have a cancellation policy clearly stated on my website, but have never enforced it.  I think of myself as a “nice person” and realize that sometimes “things happen”.  However last week, when a repeat offender failed to show up for her early morning appointment –  again –  I had to get tough.  Especially when I called her and she said “Oh I’m so sorry, I had a late nigh t last night.”  To be perfectly candid, I was really pissed.  But I said, just as calmly as I could, “I’m so sorry, but I know that you understand how valuable time is, and I DO have a cancellation policy and since this is not the first time this has happened, I am going to have to enforce it.”  I had mentally made the decision that if it turned her off as my client, I would be okay with that because she had disregarded my time more than once before.  To my surprise she gladly accepted her ‘punishment’ of full payment of the service she didn’t receive that day.  OF COURSE SHE DID!   Why was I surprised??  She knows that what she did was wrong.  She also knows that she gets a great service from me and was not going to give it up.  And I bet she never misses another appointment again.

The very best part??  I believe that decision has put my business one giant step away from being “just a home-business” in her mind.

And just to be clear… I still consider myself a “nice person”.