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EPnews -- from The Entrepreneurial Parent
a work-family resource for home-based entrepreneurs
Volume 2, Issue 8
March 24, 1999


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Please forward to a friend, or recommend it to your favorite Web site or
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For EPs, the Web is Working. Thanks to the Internet, many thousands of
parents are operating successful, satisfying businesses without compromising
their family life. In fact, the climate for starting a successful home-based
business has never been so favorable. The Internet is helping entrepreneurs
indirectly, as well, by creating exciting new ways to purchase essential
services. Take health insurance, for example. Remember when you needed to be
part of some huge organization to get affordable group rates? Well, EPs no
longer face such barriers. Thanks to a company called, you can
get web-direct group rates, and buy your health insurance online! eliminates the bureaucracy (and the costly agent,s
commissions) and passes the savings on to savvy EPs. Go to, spend 30 seconds to get a free ClickQuote, and
then apply online. And make sure to tell them you read about it in EPnews!

The Funny Things EP Kids Say & Do!
EP Times -- An Editorial
What's It Worth?
Making Money Matters
We Recommend
EPs Respond
What's Happening at EP


Note to New Subscribers: EPnews is published and distributed on the second
and fourth Wednesday of every month. The Entrepreneurial Parent at is updated every weekend; look for new content on


Submitted by EPnews Subscriber, Joyce Melton Pages
(mailto:[email protected]). Says Joyce, "I don't know whether the following
says the most about my son's concept of "forever" or the relevance of his
spelling lists!" :-)

You know the routine. The spelling words come home on Monday, the practice
spelling test is on Thursday, and the "real" spelling test is on Friday. My
first grade son brought home his list this afternoon and we started
practicing the words. He managed to learn all of the words tonight, even
the more difficult bonus words. I said to him, "Look, Daniel! It's only
Monday and you already know all of your spelling words! I expect a 100%
this week on your spelling test!"

With all of the enthusiasm that a seven-year-old can muster, he exclaimed,
"Mommy, I put the words in my brain forever, and ever, and ever, and ever,
and ever, and ever...until Friday."

Share with the EP Community something your child said or did recently that
made you smirk, giggle, or LOL. Send your submission via e-mail to:
[email protected] with the subject heading "A Funny Thing My EP Kid
Said (or Did)". And if you need a stockpile of smiles to get you through
your EP day, pick up your own heartwarming copy of Grace Housholder's "The
Funny Things Kids Say" @ On those
stressed-out EP days, you'll be glad you did!


"Screensavers Saving Humanity"
© 1999 by Lisa Roberts

I remember when screensavers were the latest "cool" software program you
could pick up for your home computer. The concept was novel at the time --
when your keyboard was at rest, unusual shapes and colors could dance
across your computer screen, all awaiting interruption at the touch of a
fingertip. Back then, the hardest decision to make was what visual you
could tolerate the longest -- eye-draining mazes, landscape scenery,
masterpiece paintings?

Ah, those were the days...

Today I find choosing a screensaver a daunting exercise in parental
diplomacy. If I wasn't obsessing so about it, I'm sure I'd find it all very
amusing...but right now I have to make one of those choices parents dread.
In this case, it's a matter of tapping into the possibility of the universe
(literally, no exagerration) with my eight-year old son, or building a
bridge of communication with my eleven-year old daughter (who is on the
brink of adolescence, no less!).

Talk about advancements in technology and communication...check this out:

The Planetary Society (a space-interest group) and Paramount Pictures have
joined forces to distribute an innovative screensaver program that "goes to
work" when you are not. Its mission? "To seek out new life and new
civilizations" by processing data captured through radio signals in outer
space. I first heard about all this on Good Morning America months ago, and
from my understanding of this highly ambitious search effort, everyone who
signs up for the SETI@home screensaver (at will be
assigned a "section" of the galaxy to cover. On an average day each
screensaver will be monitoring the standard background noise in outer
space, displayed as a graph on the screen. At the same time, it will be
"listening" for a parting of the usual soundwaves -- signaling the
sensational detection of "ET."

While every Trekkie that ever owned a computer has surely hopped on board
this interplanetary quest already, this is also a truly fascinating
opportunity to involve our children in a global experiment with
far-reaching implications. For my eight-year old, who has barely ever heard
of the "U.S.S. Enterprise" but has been an aspiring scientist since the age
of four, the concept of participating in such a program is phenomenal.

Meanwhile, back in this everyday, earthly world, my sixth-grade daughter
has been on a quest of her own. Just a month ago she inherited my 1995
Gateway 2000 P5-120, and all the scraps of technical errors it has
accumulated over the years. One of the features that got lost along the way
was -- you guessed it -- the system's screensaver program. While I never
even noticed it was missing, my daughter became fixated on the fact that
it's inaccessible to her. I didn't think much of it until one recent
morning, when I sat down for a work session and noticed some words
scrolling across my monitor. Sure enough, dancing across a blue background
on the computer screen were the words "I love you, Mommy."

Needless to say, I felt hugged and loved all day long and decided then and
there I don't EVER want a different screensaver for the rest of my life!
The next day the words changed to "Have a good day, Mommy", then at night
it was "Sweet Dreams, Mommy" and the following day a whopping "U R the Best
Mother Anyone Could Ever Have! :-)" (That one I wanted to video tape for
the teenage years to come when she will deny ever having even THOUGHT that
no less wrote it!)

Today the "honeymoon period" of our mother-daughter message board is over;
presently my screensaver serves more like an electronic chalk board. As I
write this essay and pause to form another thought, I am reading "Dear
Mommy, Today I have math meet after school. Please pick me up at 4:45
unless I call you. With love, Jessica Vincenza :-)".

Maybe the time has come to sign up for the exploration of strange new
worlds and new civilizations with my third-grader? But this is where I get
stuck. What if, in between the lines of her hearts-and-flowers memorandums,
Jessica is really saying, "Hey, I'm here too, DON'T FORGET ABOUT ME!!!"
What if, in her nearly twelve years of watching her EP mom focus on the
computer screen on and off -- as other stay-at-home parents might focus on
a TV screen or newspaper or neighbor (!) in between caregiving activities
-- she is revealing an "issue" with me she has been harboring all these

Hence, my original conflict. If I cut off this bridge of communication my
daughter has built for us now, will I create a lasting gap between us? If I
pass on pulling my son into this scientific venture, would we miss a
priceless opportunity in the present that could pave a path for his future?

I guess these are the questions parents of the Information Age must learn
to answer. And I suppose it could be worse. At the pace technology AND our
children are flying ahead these days, we COULD be hurling through space
instead of in our comfy home offices dealing with these issues. I just wish
there was a way to pull the breaks on technology for just a moment, so us
EPs could catch our breath before making any more decisions...

(Got an opinion? I'm all ears -- mailto: [email protected])

Lisa Roberts is the mother of four, Web Producer of The Entrepreneurial
Parent and the author of "How to Raise A Family & A Career Under One Roof:
A Parent's Guide to Home Business." For more info on her book, go to


"A Stitch in Time..."
by deB Sechrist

Today I delivered my income tax paperwork to the accountant: a good bit
later than he wanted to receive it but hopefully still in time to file by
April 15. This year I actually had to take time off from my EP duties to
finish this project, and I learned a lot about how to make next year go
much smoother. Since the accountant tells me I'm not much different than
anyone else (he doesn't expect to have time to even sleep for the next 3
weeks), I thought I'd pass on what I've learned...

- - - > Get organized and stay that way! I had fallen into the habit of
piling receipts, statements and notices into a folder for when I "had time"
to work on them. Of course they piled up for months, and it took hours just
to sort it all out, then enter the info in my financial software, then try
to balance everything. I've now made myself a promise to spend just a few
minutes every day entering that day's paperwork and to file it right away.
I even moved my files to the credenza just behind my desk chair to aid in
the quick filing process.

- - - > Balance every financial statement as soon as it's received. I'm
embarrased to say that I discovered a bank deposit error from last spring
that I could have easily resolved if I had balanced my statement right
away. Instead, it went unchallenged for so long that the bank will now
charge me a fee to research the error and I still may not be able to
recover the difference. Most institutions allow only 60 days to report a
dispute, so quick action is necessary. I've also uncovered several
incorrect charges on credit card bills and even utility bills. Keep
receipts for all credit card purchases and match them to your statements.
Document the details of every phone conversation with customer service
representatives, and be sure to get their name(s). Verify your meter
readings to the numbers shown on the bill. Keep a phone log to compare to
your long distance phone bill charges.

- - - > Don't let fear or worry take over. When it's a struggle to make
ends meet and the bills begin to pile up, it can be difficult and
depressing to review your finances or to even deal with the situation at
all. There have been times in my life that I just couldn't even open the
envelopes because I knew I couldn't pay the bill anyway, and the tone of
the collector's letters was upsetting. But I've learned that knowing
exactly where you stand and what you owe is an important step in taking
control of your situation and resolving the problems. Communication with
creditors and utility companies can lead to new arrangements, better
payment plans to fit your situation, even reductions in interest, penalties
and costly fees.

- - - > Hire a good accountant. I'm a true do-it-yourself kind of person,
but when it comes to the taxes, a good accountant is worth every penny, at
least when you need to do anything more complicated than the standard 1040
form (which is the case if you have a home business). Having a paid
preparer is good insurance if there are errors which could result in
penalties and interest charges. And just having an experienced professional
to double-check your figures can save you from costly mistakes or even

Next year I plan to hand over my paperwork to the accountant by early
February, after no more extra preparation than printing out the information
from my software. Of course it will take some discipline to keep up with
the daily entries and filing, but I know it will be well worth it!

deBorah Sechrist is the mother of three, Webmistress of The Entrepreneurial
Parent and owner of deBweB, a web design business. Find out more about deB


Being available to your kids and managing a career under one roof sounds to
many like the best of both worlds, but without pulling in some kind of
income what's all the effort for? Making Money Matters! We're pressed for
space this week, but next issue Susan Pisani of "Cruisin Easy...where you
get Oceans of Options for Cruises and much more!" shares her marketing tips
with us. (In the meantime, you can reach Susan at [email protected],
by phone at (888) SEA-EASY, (732-3279), or her Web site at


Have a question? It may already be answered in 1 of the 16 EP Expert Q&A
pages now up and running! Check them out at (follow the "Q&A" links). If your question
isn't answered there, then send it to: [email protected]. We'll be glad
to help you out if we can!

From our EP Telecommuting Expert:

Q. I've been working as a scientific programmer for the same company for
the past 3.5 years. When I had problems with my 2nd pregnancy, I arranged
to work part-time from home (10 hours) and part-time in the office (3.5
days). I talked to my boss before my baby was born and he agreed to let me
continue to telecommute after I came back. Now he says he wants me to work
a more "normal" work week (5 days per week in the office).

I have continued to get all my work done and have even been more productive
working from home. And with my salary, fulltime daycare for 2 children
would take 50% of my income and doesn't seem worth it. How can I convince
him to continue letting me work from home? I'm so upset about this, I'm
almost ready to quit and try something else, but my family cannot afford to
live without my income. To top it off, my boss is an older single man who
has never had a family (or even a pet) and I'm having trouble relating my
need to be with my children while they are young.

A. This is a very interesting, and somewhat complex, question. It seems to
me there are three issues here:

1. Why your boss wants you to come back to the office full-time.
2. Whether and how you are able to juggle your work and your child care.
3. What the consequences might be to you and your boss if you are unable to
comply with his request.

The first is the most important, it seems to me. You don't say anything
about why he wants you to return to the office full-time. Assuming he
agrees with you that you are able to do at least as much work when you are
telecommuting, I'm not sure why he is pressuring you to return. What is
motivating his request? Don't put him on the defensive -- you can approach
it with a non-accusational statement such as, "Frankly, I'm a little
confused about your request. What have you seen in my work while
telecommuting that makes you feel you want me to return to the office full

My hunch -- and it's only that -- is the boss's request has nothing to do
with your own work. It is more likely due to pressure (subtle or otherwise)
he is getting from his peer managers or his own boss to end this
flexibility. He may also be getting some requests from your co-workers who
want to telecommute for various reasons, and is uncomfortable telling them
"no" after having told you "yes."

Once you find out what's going on in his mind, it will be easier for you to
address his concerns.

Next, I'd ask you to honestly assess how you have been able to manage child
care and job simultaneously. This can be extraordinarily demanding. While
you say that your work hasn't suffered, might there have been times when,
for example, your boss called you and heard crying in the background, or
otherwise felt that your child care was intruding on your work? If so, he
might be very uncomfortable with that -- and perhaps rightly so. The key to
blending telecommuting and child care is to NOT do both at once, unless you
have unusually docile, compliant, and perfect children (which ours never

Last, what WILL you do if the boss persists in his request? Will the
financial consequences you describe be serious enough to cause you to quit,
or to cut back to part-time? And if you do either, how will that effect the
boss and the department's workload? I'm not suggesting you threaten the
boss with the possibility of quitting, but IF that is real, you can
certainly note that you are faced with this dilemma. If you are truly
valuable, and will be hard to replace, then you might get your boss's
attention. But if you can be replaced in a heartbeat or perhaps your job
would be eliminated if you left, then you have less leverage.

Finally, your comment about how his single/male/childless perspective might
make it hard for him to appreciate what you are going through may be
correct -- but that's not going to be a fruitful topic of discussion. You
need to keep things focused on your ability to get the work done, and his
ability to rely on you to do so.

Best of luck,
Gil Gordon

Gil Gordon is the president of Gil Gordon Associates, specializing in
helping private- and public-sector firms establish successful telecommuting
programs. To learn more about Gil's work, go to;
to ask him a question, go to


For Dads: MenWeb @ MenWeb provides
information and support for men, and a new definition of "Men's Work." In
their own voices:

---> We celebrate the expression of mature and creative masculinity and
men's creative engagement in the community.
---> We creatively support men in their many roles, including as fathers
and mentors.
---> We support and reflect the values of equality, diversity,
non-violence, healthy spiritual connectedness and ecological soundness.

For the EPs on this list who recognize that "men's stuff" is not just about
competition but cooperation and connection as well, you may enjoy exploring
the pages of MenWeb!


For Moms (to be!): Moms Online has a new feature for "wannabe Moms" @
<<>>. Whether your first
baby is six months from now, five years, or already HERE, Moms Online has
just the glimpse into real motherhood that you've been curious to see.
Here's what they have in store for you:

---> Before Sperm Meets Ova: A preconception to-do list brought to you by
Moms Online's roster of Pros (including the "WAHM Pro" -- EP's Lisa
---> Telling It Like It Is: What you might NOT expect about being a Mom!
Get an earful from some experienced Moms (who promise not to call you
"sweetheart" or "dear"), and see if you find yourself ovulating in sympathy
or running to the airport for some tickets to Tiajuana...
---> A Maternal Readiness Quiz: Just for Fun: Find out if you're ready to
make the leap.
---> Preconception Message Board: Swap angst and ambivalence with other
wannabe Moms!

For the many EPs on this list who have "been there, done that" re: the
above, you'll find the "Wannabe Moms" link at MO a source of reminiscent
chuckles and a refreshing reminder of how far you've come. For the handful
of those who are expecting their first child, this site may be just what
you've been longing for. Either way, enjoy!

IN THE EP COMMUNITY: In the last issue of EPnews, the concept of a monthly
"EP Office Clean-up Day" was proposed. The idea was that if one morning a
month all members of the EP Community would commit to cleaning up their
home office as a group, then it wouldn't be such a chore for each of us to
tackle the job in our individual home offices. A "thumbs up" vote came in.
We plan to kick off our first one in May, so stay tuned in our next issue
for directions on how to participate. In the meantime, suggested activities
are most definitely welcome -- mailto: [email protected] and let's work
on this together!

NEW SERVICES: Confused, bewildered, stumped? If you're an EP or would like
to become one, and need some one-on-one guidance regarding your home-based
career (selecting, managing, expanding, etc.), check into our "New &
Improved" EP Home Career Counseling services at
<>. When you have more than one question
to "ask the experts," this professional service may be just the answer for

IN THE NEWS: Dan Poynter, best-selling author of "The Self-Publishing
Manual" and owner of ParaPublishing (, is writing a
new book tentatively titled: "Successful Authors: Tips for Geting Your
Nonfiction Published." Scores of published authors have been selected to
"reveal their inside secrets," and Lisa Roberts is one of them :-)! Her
book and the EP web site will also be let's hope this title
becomes another best-seller for Dan!

Have an opinion or idea? Let's hear it -- mailto: [email protected]. We
look forward to your feedback!


The Entrepreneurial Parent, LLC is not engaged in rendering legal or
financial advice. If expert assistance is required, the services of a
licensed professional should be sought.

This newsletter may be redistributed freely via the Internet. Re-publishing
of separate articles for your print publication needs approval first; write
to: [email protected] for permission.

© 2000, The Entrepreneurial Parent, LLC
Editor: Lisa M. Roberts
EP Webmaster: Deborah Sechrist
POB 320722, Fairfield, CT 06432;
Ph:/Fax: (203) 371-6212, Email: [email protected]

Community email addresses:
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List owner: [email protected]

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