Thursday, August 12, 2010

Entrepreneurship = Time Flexibility

When the home-business trend took off in the eighties and nineties, one of the biggest reasons women were leading this movement is that being self-employed provided more flexibility in their work hours. Many women were fired because they had to care for ill family members, or could not work overtime due to personal responsibilities.
I personally knew a woman to whom this happened, though she was excellent at her (employed) job, when her daughter contracted pneumonia and had a lengthy recuperative period. When I was a part-time substitute teacher, many teachers told me they saved their sick days not for themselves; but rather for when their children were ill as day care centers seldom permit sick children to attend. How many companies today provide paid family leave time for employees?
In another instance, the manager at a large box store, informed employees they had to come in a half-hour earlier or half-hour later. This upset a number of employees whose spouses worked alternative shift hours at other companies so their children would have at least one parent to care for them.
Today, when people say parents do not spend enough time with their children, it makes me laugh, and not nicely. When I married in the late sixties, generally only one paycheck was needed to support a middle-class family. If one spouse were ill, the other spouse was a “back-up,” and could usually work instead.
But with the rise in the cost-of-living expenses, it takes almost 2 ½ jobs today to support a middle-class family. With this recession, many employees have also had to take on more responsibilities as other workers were let go. Fearing of losing their jobs or being demoted in pay, they do these extra tasks, often working later. Then they drive over the speed limit to be on time to pick up their children from their child care center for fear they will be late.
A young health professional told me their children will be kicked out of their day care center if she or her husband, a busy new doctor, are late three times in picking up their children.
And do not think that teens can take care of themselves and do not need supervision. I read that many girls get pregnant in the afternoon, after school. Another woman decided to work from home when her son’s principal called her and said her house was the meeting place for teens after school.
Being self-employed, does not mean working fewer hours. In fact as discussed previously, a new venture often demands twice as much time as working at a “regular” job requires, especially at its onset. But what these entrepreneurial parents did, and still often do, is work in blocks of time when their children are in school, in bed, or cared for by another friend or parent.
That is WHY I liked working from home and continue to do so. I was able to be home for my children; and later for elderly parents and in-laws who needed care and assistance. I also do not have to do those “cheers” before and after a workday or attend workshops that are inane and had nothing to do with improving my job skills. Besides, I love my business and unless I “fire” myself, I can do it as long as I choose…WHEN I choose.

Suggested Additional Reading & Resources
*Entrepreneurship / Edition 4 by Peggy A. Lambing
*Chaos or Community?: Seeking Solutions, Not Scapegoats for Bad Economics by Holly Sklar, Matt Wuerker (Illustrator)
Web site:
*Entrepreneurship topics sponsored by theEwing Marion Kauffman Foundation


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