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Keeping the Books: Basic Recordkeeping and Accounting for the Successful Small Business
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The Small Business Money Guide: How to Get It, Use It, Keep It
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Tax Savvy for Small Business: Year-Round Tax Strategies to Save You Money, 4th edition
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Harvard Business Review on Entrepreneurship
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The Joy of Working from Home: Making a Life while Making a Living
Moneymaking Moms: How Work at Home Can Work for You
Money-Smart Secrets of the Self-Employed
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On Your Own: A Guide to Working Happily, Productively & Successfully from Home
Soloing: Realizing Your Life's Ambition
Spare Room Tycoon: The Seventy Lessons of Sane Self-Employment
Strikingitrich.com: Profiles of 23 Incredibly Successful Websites You've Probably Never Heard Of
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Organize Your Home Office! Simple Routines for Setting Up an Office at Home
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The Stay-At Home Mom's Guide to Making Money from Home: Choosing the Business That's Right for You Using the Skills and Interests You Already Have
The Ultimate Home Office Survival Guide
The Work-At-Home Mom's Guide to Home Business
Working at Home while the Kids Are There, Too
Working From Home: Everything You Need to Know About Living and Working Under the Same Roof
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222 Ways to Promote Your Small Business on a Budget
AMA Complete Guide to Small Business Advertising
The Brand You 50
Bringing Home the Business: The 30 Truths Every Home Business Owner Must Know
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One to One Future: Building Relationships One Customer at a Time
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The Perfect Business
The Way of the Guerrilla: Achieving Success and Balance as an Entrepreneur in the 21st Century
Work with Passion
Starting Out
101 Best Home-Based Businesses For Women
The Best Home Businesses for the 21st Century: The Inside Information You Need to Know to Select a Home-Based Business That's Right for You
The Business of Bliss: How to Profit from Doing What You Love
Business Start-Up Guide: How to Create, Grow and Manage Your Own Successful Enterprise
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Starting a Home-Based Business
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Get a Life! Start Your Home-Based Business Now: One Action Step at a Time
Going Indie: Self-Employment Freelance and Temping Opportunities
Going Solo: Developing a Home-Based Consulting Business from the Ground Up
Homemade Money: How to Select, Start, Manage, and Multiply the Profits of a Business at Home
Honey, I Want to Start My Own Business
How to Open and Operate a Home-Based Communications Business
How to Really Start Your Own Business : A Step-By-Step Guide, 3rd Edition
Making Money in a Health Service Business on Your Home-Based PC
Start Up: An Entrepreneur's Guide to Launching and Managing a New Business
Upstart Start-Ups! How 34 Young Entrepreneurs Overcame Youth, Inexperience, and Lack of Money to Create Thriving Businesses
The Young Entrepreneur's Edge: Using Your Ambition, Independence, and Youth to Launch a Successful Business


The Complete Internet Business Toolkit
The Consultant's Guide to Getting Business on the Internet
Growing Your Business Online: Small-Business Strategies for Working the World Wide Web
Making Money in Cyberspace


     book review

Mompreneurs: A Mother's Practical Step-by-Step Guide to Work-at-Home Success.
By Ellen H. Parlapiano and Patricia Cobe

Reviewed by Warren Sloat

What's the best thing about working at home? When the authors of Mompreneurs asked this question, one respondent replied: "Can go on school trips." And what's the worst thing? Her response was the same: "Can go on school trips."

One of the dilemmas of a mompreneur -- a useful portmanteau word for independent professional mothers who work at home -- is that it's great to be available for your children, but there is such a thing as being too available. The mom either finds herself at her desk feeling guilty that she did not go on the trip, or she's on the trip and feeling frustrated that her business is yet again untended.

Guidance through such difficulties makes this book stand out among the current glut of self-employment manuals. Basing their insights and advice on their own experience as mothers running home businesses, the authors, Ellen Parlapiano and Patricia Cobe, have a different perspective. There's less emphasis on how to face up to losing your biggest client, more emphasis on how to keep going when a sitter who fails to show up turns your schedule into puree.

The authors offer advice on an impressive range of topics, from when to see a financial planner to essential office equipment to online networking. I didn't agree with every detail of their helpful hints and admonitions, and it would be wise to get a second opinion on some of them -- maybe just by buying another IP handbook. But Parlapiano and Cobe have come up with a useful and instructive guide that can help you integrate responsible motherhood with a serious home business.

The poll results that the authors provide help the mompreneur to see that, in an age of independent professionals, her situation and problems are not unique but widespread. One informal poll, for example, asked mothers who work at home to reveal "your best trick for juggling work and family." Twenty-three percent said by working after the kids are in bed or before they're up; 13 percent said by quitting work when the kids get home from school; 10 percent said a supportive husband; and the leading answer, with 31 percent, was "being organized and disciplined."

The authors make the point that the mompreneur has to be more disciplined and organized than someone who works outside the home. She has to be ready to make use of an undisturbed hour whenever it comes. Schedules have to be reworked to keep up with changing conditions. In order to succeed, the IP has to switch back and forth from professional to mom several times a day. Such flexibility, however, is harder to achieve for women whose work is heavily weighted toward phone appointments and considerable interaction with clients. (The authors suggest that dressing up a little helps psychologically to maintain the feeling of professionalism.)

One of the most charming aspects of the guide is the unabashed way that Parlapiano and Cobe deal with the necessity of pretense and evasion, which they prefer to call "business speak." That's what the one-woman office speaks when trying to sound as if she's sitting in a burnished wood-paneled office in a classically-tailored power suit. To be able to pull it off, you have to be careful that the Sesame Street theme song isn't playing in the background when you answer the line.

When you talk business speak, you never let on that you're taking your sick child's temperature and working at the same time; rather, you tell the caller that you're involved in a conference call on your other line. And instead of saying that you have to take your son to the doctor on Tuesday, you say that prior commitments make Wednesday better for you. If you have scruples about little white lies, mompreneurship is probably not your thing.

The authors provide considerable information on what to do if you decide that you need someone to take care of your children at least part of the time, and offer tips on how to interview and screen child-care candidates. Possibilities include day care, after-school programs, baby sitters, live-in nannies, au pairs, and family members, including husbands. "If your husband works odd hours," the authors advise, "you might rely on him for your primary home care." One's first reaction is that it hardly seems necessary to mention so obvious a solution -- until it dawns on the reader that such a comment may gently reinforce the working mother in asserting her rights.

The advice on how to carve out a workspace is geared to family considerations, since negotiations may be required in a home with a limited amount of room. Child-safety questions are also addressed. The authors advise, for example, that the mom crawl about at the child's level looking for hazards in the office -- sharp corners, electrical cords that might tip over heavy objects, etc.

Child-proofing the work area is addressed in such concrete terms as how to keep grape jelly out of the floppy drive; and it deals fully with image issues, such as how to cope with children answering or picking up the telephone when a client calls.

To keep up with the dual roles of mother and businesswoman and to avoid scheduling mix-ups, it is advised that you mark family and business events on the same calendar. But don't merge the two roles so thoroughly that you're calling clients while the soccer game is in progress. There are times when the kids should have your complete attention. And if you have a husband as well as children, don't take your laptop to bed with you.

Mompreneurship won't be a life free of tensions or of clashing priorities, but it can be rewarding. The greatest reward, the authors point out, is to be with your kids while they are growing up, a chance that comes only once.

Incidentally, the book might also be profitable for fathers who work at home, though they can safely skip the parts about matching your makeup and panty hose to your wardrobe.

Return to Books main page | Buy this book

August 18,1999
Edited by Eric Gershon
Production by Keith Gendel

We'd love to hear your comments about this article!

Warren Sloat is a freelance writer and author on business subjects who lives in Santa Fe, NM. If you like, we'd be happy to put you in touch with him, or with any of the other IPs named in this article.

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