By Tim Hayes

You want to hear my job description?  Here’s an abbreviated version.  Expert writing, presentation skills coaching, offsite meeting facilitation, visits to school nurses’ offices, college dorm move-ins, grocery and drug store runs, and even some spring afternoons throwing a baseball around with my kid.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the wonderful world of home-based consulting.

Nearly 13 years ago, faced with an employment challenge (i.e., I suddenly wasn’t employed) the decision was made to hang out my shingle, as the old saying goes, and give it a go as an independent contractor working out of my home.  All these years later, that’s still the business model being used around here, and I have never regretted it.

Over time, I’ve had well-meaning friends and advisors suggest that I get office space, be situated Downtown somewhere closer to the action, hire a salesperson or an office manager to handle those functions so I’d have time to just do the work for my clients.  That never appealed to me, never made sense. 

Call it a personality quirk (one of many, perhaps), but I’d much rather keep those extraneous costs out, and reap the full fruits of my labors.  Until the IRS, the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue, and my local municipality’s tax office come calling, of course, for their respective pounds of flesh.

Believe me, with three young adults on my State Farm policy, there’s no one more surprised to discover that I agree with a website called, but there you go.  A recent issue of Fast Company cited a bunch of statistics from that website having to do with people working from home at least part of the time.  A few highlights:

1) From 2005 to 2012, the U.S. workforce overall grew 3 percent, while the number of telecommuters grew by 66 percent.

2) 80 percent of telecommuters feel they have a good work-life balance.

3) 75 percent of telecommuters feel they eat healthier.

4) Productivity among telecommuters is as much as 20 percent higher than office-bound employees.

In late 2000, when this work-from-home adventure began, the kids were little, our house was small, I shared space in the playroom, and there was no door for quiet and privacy.  Yet somehow, with pride and panic serving as one whale of a motivating cocktail, the business grew and became successful.  Today, the kids are either in college or approaching that threshold, we live in a larger house, the office is exclusively mine, and – thank you, Lord – there’s a door.

The evolution of the work space has had little effect on the business itself, though.  The fundamentals still apply.  You gotta build and cultivate and grow relationships.  You gotta make fair deals with clients.  You gotta do great work for them and demonstrate integrity at every turn.  Whether there’s a Barbie Dream House next to my desk or not.

But I’ve loved working from home not just for the chance to build my own business, to be my own boss, and to use that freedom to be productive for my clients all these years.

Just as important have been the days when the school nurse calls and I can be there for my (then) little ones. 

To load up the van and spend the day getting an excited and maybe a little scared freshman settled in a new dorm room. 

To run to the store when my family needs something on short notice. 

And to have those “Field of Dreams” moments, tossing a ball back and forth at 3 o’clock in the afternoon with my son.

Had I not been home-based, those snapshots in time would never have occurred.  The chance to be more than a father, and to be the best Dad I could be, would have been lessened.  Those days, the realization hits now, can never and will never come around again.  And I am so thankful that my situation permitted me to care for my kids in that special and wonderful way.

Dorothy, once she had returned to her sepia-toned farmhouse after her journey in the Technicolor land of Oz, had it right.  Even when you’re talking about running a business or a family, for my money, there’s no place like home.

Copyright 2013 Tim Hayes Consulting