By Christina Hoffmann Spira, REALTOR® Magazine
As an independent contractor, you’re accustomed to a career that affords flexibility. So working from home some or all of the time may feel quite natural to you. Or, maybe not.
The Work at Home Balancing Act (New York: Avon Books Inc.; $12) will help determine your compatibility for this work style and offer you coping strategies for the challenges you may not have foreseen: handling the kids, wrangling the pets, establishing discipline, getting your spouse’s help with chores.
The author, Sandy Anderson, left a nine-to-five job to be a work-at-home entrepreneur—in real estate sales. So she sometimes gears the book to corporate types who for the first time are entertaining the idea of telecommuting.
With that in mind, skip the chapter on isolation. If you’re selling, you have plenty of contact with people. But take note of Chapter 9, “Organizing Your Time and Work Space.” She stresses the importance of finding a comfortable, utilitarian spot for your home office. It should have access to adequate lighting and phone jacks. And if you have young kids, don’t forget to child proof it or simply lock it up when you’re not around.
In addition, she cites helpful Consumer Reports information on home office ergonomics: Place your 14- to 15-inch computer monitor at least 16 inches from you; set your 17-inch monitor at least 20 inches from your face.
By Lucien Salvant, REALTOR® Magazine
As soon as you hear the title of Harvey Mackay’s book, Pushing the Envelope All the Way to the Top (New York: Ballantine Books, 1999; $24.95), you know the business advice guru is tipping his sleight of hand. The “punch” line, as Mackay fans know, is that he’s the successful owner of an envelope business.
Easy-to-read chapters are in his usual anecdotal style: short, pithy, entertaining, and humorous. They make a point, and just in case you miss it, Mackay concludes each chapter with “Mackay’s Moral,” quoting a range of successful folk from Yogi Berra to Dirty Harry to John LeCarré. But mostly the quotes are Mackay’s own, and that’s the strength of the book. Here are some samples.
- On getting started: “Start your new year today. And remember, anyone can make a resolution. Very few people can keep one.” His favorite is using imagination that leads to making you different from your competition: “I will encourage risk-taking . . . I know that many businesses fail from lack of boldness rather than from trying something new.”
- Using your resources: “Time is precious. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it, you can never get it back.”
- Birth of a salesperson: “Good salespeople have three priorities: their customers, their company, and themselves. In that order.”
You can make a list of Mackay’s “morals” to consult periodically, post them on your bulletin board, or select one for your daily business mantra.
By Christina Hoffmann Spira, REALTOR® Magazine
Homesurfing.net, by Blanche Evans (Chicago: Dearborn Financial Publishing, Inc.; $17.95), is the book Web surfing buyers and sellers need next to their mouse pad. As a straightforward soup-to-nuts account of the homebuying and selling process, its utility is providing and exploring the necessary Web pit stops consumers should visit on their way to homeownership. And that’s valuable in an age when consumers are opting–and willing–to learn about the homeownership process electronically.
Plus, it gives REALTORS® a nice plug. Check out the chapter, “Why Use a REALTOR®?” Of course, Evans also includes the obligatory how-to-be-a-FSBO chapter.
Here are some of the helpful tips–from the strong financial sections of the book–which will guide your prospects:
- You’ve heard the financial planning suggestion: Consolidate your credit card debt onto one card. According to Evans, that may not be the best plan considering that lenders look not only at your credit report, but your credit score–the “statistical probability” that you’ll default on the loan. When you transfer debt you “raise the ratio of your unpaid balances to the maximum credit lines on fewer cards. To lenders’ software, it appears as if your financial situation has tightened,” a possible sign of default.
- Rather than enduring the leg work involved in tracking down your credit report from the three credit reporting companies, Evans notes that you use an online service to obtain all three and challenge inaccuracies.
This tip raises a caveat about this book, or any book on the Internet: Rapid business changes in the tech world date print publications quickly. Since the book’s printing, the cyber credit report service Evans cites has changed its name and URL. It’s now called Qspace, not icreditreport.com.
- Buyers can deduct loan points, which are considered additional interest, from their income tax, even if the seller pays them.
- When it comes time to find homeowners’ insurance, the Insurance Information Institute explains how to buy it and calculate the amount you need. In addition, consumers can obtain an immediate insurance quote at Countrywide Insurance Services, by filling out an online form.
What guidebook to the Internet would be complete without its’ own site? Read excerpts from the book and information about the author at Homesurfing.net.