Professionalism is crucial in business, but for parents who work from home, maintaining professionalism can be a bit of a challenge.
With babbling babies, boisterous toddlers and energetic pre-schoolers who let out cries, tantrums, giggles or worse – inappropriate information – in the background of phone calls or meetings, it’s hard to convey to clients that you’re on top of things.
So how can parents who run their own business maintain their professionalism in the midst of chaos? Here are five tips for safeguarding your reputation.
1. Under-promise and over-deliver
When it comes to dealing with deadlines and setting project dates, always factor in more time than you’ll need. Once deadlines are set they are hard to renegotiate, so even if you think you can meet a deadline on time allow a buffer period. Unexpected events that eat into your time, such as a child getting sick, can and will arise. By extending your deadline from the beginning, you might even deliver early, which comes across as very professional.
2. Only take on what you can handle
One of the easiest ways to lose your professionalism and miss a deadline is to commit to more work than you can handle. You don’t have to take on every project; you can say no or better yet – schedule the work for a couple of weeks down the track so you don’t have to knock it back all together.
3. Have a professional answering message dedicated to your business
As a parentpreneur an answering machine with a dedicated business message is a must. It maintains a calm presence when your chaotic life is exploding in front of you and presents a professional first impression to whoever calls. It also gives you the chance to call back at a more convenient time – such as when children are asleep, distracted or when you have help.
4. Build a strong support system
Have reinforcements ready on both the home and work fronts in case you need help. Have trusted contractors and alliances on hand that you can call on to help you with projects or refer work to when you have too much. Work out a chore schedule with your family to help pick up the slack when you are tied up, and have different child-minding options (family members, reciprocal play dates, day care) available so you can attend the meetings, make the phone calls and meet the deadlines you need to.
5. Do what it takes!
When you have committed to a project you need to be prepared to do whatever it takes to see it through and deliver on time, even if it means working long hours.
Occasionally though, despite your best efforts, something can happen that hurts your professionalism. So what do you do in these situations where you have to crawl back to your customer and re-establish that you are indeed a professional who knows what they are doing and is worthy of their business?
You WOW them. You wow them with your service and you wow them with the end product. You go above and beyond to ensure that what they remember is your quality of work and how well you delivered for them.
What are your tips for maintaining professionalism when working with kids?
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For more from Amanda Jesnoewski, head to www.flyingsolo.com.au, Australia's community for solo and micro business owners.