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Beyond Schedule "C"

© 2000, by Lisa M. Roberts

As the ominous tax season approaches, many EPs turn toward their books (or in my case, shoe box), to sum up the previous year's efforts in dollars and cents. This annual ritual is not only to keep things clean with Uncle Sam, but to evaluate the year's revenue, expenses, and in a word, "profit" -- which usually all shows up in black and white on a single piece of paper called a "Schedule C."
For many an EP who toils away day after day in a home office to keep their professional career afloat while engaging in the primary work of raising very young children, this can be a depressing task. But over the years I have found that there are other meanings to the word "profit" that are not associated with any monetary value at all.
In my book, How to Raise A Family & A Career Under One Roof: A Parent's Guide to Home Business, I go into detail about the rewards a home business brings to one's sense of self, including challenge, diversity, independence, professional growth, contact with like-minded professionals and domestic freedom. While there's not enough room here to cover the topic in full, we can briefly take comfort by referring to the Webster's Unabridged Dictionary, in which the FIRST definitions of the word "profit" are:
1) proficiency, advancement; improvement;
2) advantage; gain; benefit.
With this perspective in mind, how have YOU profited by working at home in 1999? Before you answer that question, consider the following:
  • New Client Relationships
Have you picked up any new clients in the past year? Even if the initial projects with a new client are small, if you've made a good impression by meeting or exceeding expectations you've "advanced" your home business a great deal. It takes time to build a trusting relationship with a client and hopefully you're both in it for the long haul.
  • New Contacts
Have you made a strong connection with any new EP peers online or in person? Have you met and conversed with any other new business colleagues or professionals in your field? How about members of the press or other media? Every new contact can help you advance your home career in terms of opportunities, public perception and personal support.
  • New Hard or Soft Skills Developed
Have you picked up any new computer skills, sharpened your writing, or taught a class for the first time during the past year? Here's where the term "proficiency" comes in, another building block for that high income-generating home career of your future...
  • New Business Skills Developed
Did you research, launch or grow your business in the past year? Every day you are self-employed you are "improving" your entrepreneurial understanding, knowledgebase and competency -- all factors that are working together to move you closer and closer to your financial goals.
  • Family Rewards
Here is where the concept of "advantage," "gain," and "benefit" come into play full swing. For those of us with an innate desire to put family first and career a close second, no further explanation here is necessary -- just give your loved ones a hug and a smile and thank them for sharing their days with you!
In today's society, where the barometer of success is too often measured by one's annual salary, the preparation of an EP's "Schedule C" can be a sobering affair -- and even a point of contention among family members. But if you can keep your mind and heart focused on the broader definition of "profit" as you gather together your business receipts, related utitility bills, invoices and bank statements, you can retain a sense of pride in your year's accomplishments -- regardless of what you pencil in on the bottom line.
(If you'd like to share how you have "profited" outside a financial assessment from working at home in 1999, please write to us at [email protected]. Let's share. And here's to a more "profitable" 2000 for all!!)

Lisa Roberts is the mother of four, owner of The Entrepreneurial Parent, LLC and the author of How to Raise A Family & A Career Under One Roof: A Parent's Guide to Home Business (Bookhaven Press, 1997). Copies of her book are available for purchase at EP and through Amazon.

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