Meet Paul and Sarah Edwards – Authors And Speakers On ‘Working From Home’

I have two guests today – Paul and Sarah Edwards. Paul and Sarah Edwards are highly respectable writers and speakers in the fields of self employment and working from home. They have been working form home for more than 25 years now. They have both co-authored more than 15 books and many of these books have sold more than a million copies.

A couple of their well known books are the – ‘Working From Home’ and ‘The Entrepreneurial Parent’. ‘The Entrepreneurial Parent’ has even been featured on the Oprah show. For fourteen years Paul and Sarah produced and co-hosted an hour-long show on radio’s Working From Home Show on the BusinessTalkRadio.Net.
They are well recognized experts in the area of working from home. Their seventeenth book ‘Middle Class Lifeboat’, provides practical information about what individuals can do to address their growing anxiety about economic and ecological changes in the global economy.I am actually quite honored to have these two on my website. Thanks guys…Read and Be Inspired….

You have a new book out called, Middle Class Lifeboat…Can you tell us what this book is about ?

Working From Home Over 25 years we had written 16 books on how to choose a secure, meaningful career and to create an enjoyable, comfortable lifestyle. But like most people we were noticing that is becoming harder to do, so we wanted to find out what people were doing to adjust to the challenges of today’s economy and still preserve their dreams, or maybe even pursue a lifestyle they prefer.

Three years ago we began interviewing people. We were surprised inspired by the imaginative and innovative options we discovered. In Middle-Class Lifeboat: Careers and Life Choices for Navigating a Changing Economy, we share what we learned. The book has two parts – careers in which jobs can be found as well as that can be pursued independently and life choices such as moving, including using Cashless alternatives that enable people the freedom to work less and supporting one another.

When did you guys first start working from home? And what was your first home based business ?

We began working from home in 1974. The neighbors thought Sarah was a housewife and I was unemployed. Actually, Sarah established a psychotherapy practice and found clients were more comfortable coming to a home than going to an office building. Paul was doing political and public affairs consulting. We began working on projects together during these years.

My understanding is that your new venture is in the area of health care for people who work from home…Can you tell me a bit about your new venture?

We’ve been interested in health most of their lives. Both personally and because the availability and cost of health insurance and care if you’re ill or injured is a major barrier to self-employment and millions of people who are self-employed lack health insurance. Resulting from experiences Sarah and I had two years ago, we decided to create a website – – where people could share information based on what we wish the doctor had told them. The site is and is a way we can share with one another what we can do to stay well, get well, and live well.

In your vast experience what are a couple of the most common problems faced by people who work from home? (and how can we overcome these problems?)

During our more than 25 years researching, writing, and broadcasting suggests two major pitfalls to avoid as you proceed. They are:

  • Marketing Mistakes: Year after year, survey after survey, the problem newer businesses identify is getting clients.
  • Money Monsters: Research by the Small Business Administration indicates money problems are the primary cause of business failure, problems like:
    • Not having enough money to cover startup and operating expenses
    • Not having sufficient funds with which to grow
    • Insufficient funds for proper marketing
    • Too much debt
    • Cash-flow problems
    • Inadequate financial planning
    • Not charging enough to make a profit
    • Poor credit and collection practices
    • Inadequate bookkeeping

What can you do:

Master Marketing
The keys to building a thriving business is word-of-mouth and direct referrals and the best way to get this working for you is to tailor your marketing to methods to: target the type of clients you are best suited to serve, and (2) suit your personality so you will executive them willingly, if not enthusiastically. In our soon-to-be released eBook, Marketing for Introverts, will be a Marketing Style Inventory to help people identify their special aptitudes.

Once identified Always market in fertile ground. For example, if you want to reach clients over the age of 50, chances are blogging or podcasting won’t be fertile ground for you because market research indicates these media are most appealing to people between the ages of 18 and 34.
Instead you may find it more useful to put your energy effort into developing your website or networking.

Networking always rates high on the ways professionals seeking clients but again the key is to be sure you’re networking in milieus where you’ll be sure to encounter an ample number of people who need what you are offering or are in a position to refer you to others who do.

Thus to network in a chamber of commerce made up of business owners may not be an ideal place to network yourself if you’re a career counselor, but getting involved in an industry group undergoing significant change would.

Most people find they do best focusing their marketing efforts on activities they personally enjoy and do reasonably well with ease. The following are several methods that have been cited over and over when we interview people as effective ways to get businesses underway. Which ones would be appealing to you? We’ve group these under two headings:
(1) Face-to-face contact and
(2) the Web.Face-to-face contact includes directly soliciting individuals who are likely sources of referrals for your practice and networking in business and trade organizations. Going to organizational meetings and events means you connect with potential clients and referral sources on their schedules. Within a networking organization, you can make contacts, trade information and business intelligence, and get and make business referrals. The Web includes having your own website that is directly addressable; taking advantage of referral directories of professional organizations by posting your profile and keep it up-to-date, and test listing on local search services, such as Yahoo’s local search service ( and Google’s (

Tame Your Money Monsters
For someone wanting to start a business, start-up funds can be a barrier, particularly if someone is burdened with credit card debt, auto loan or student loans or a combination of these. It be heartening to know that we’ve met people who have started businesses with less than $100. How do they do it? Some take temp work to pay for their basic living expenses while they get their practice underway. Others continue to work a full-time job but unlock an instant stream of cash by reducing the amount withheld for taxes in anticipation of the business deductions they expect during their first year. Do check with a tax professional, however, before changing your W-4 form.

If you need funds, here are other ways people use to get underway.

  • Bank loans
  • Bartering
  • Credit cards – zero percent rates are attractive but tricky
  • Credit unions
  • Disability grants
  • Funds from investors, who may be relatives or people you know
  • Home equity line of credit
  • Inheritances
  • Legal settlements
  • Lending sources with specific missions, such as funds for women
  • Life insurance policies, borrowing or cashing in
  • Loan referral sites, such as American Express, Quicken
  • Loans from relatives, friends, colleagues
  • Local seed money funds.
  • Retirement funds
  • Savings
  • SBA Loan Programs
  • Selling collections or other assets
  • Severance packages

Another money monster is pricing. Pricing is an experiment. We deal with this in our soon-to-be-released e-Book, Charging What You’re Worth.

Other Potential Pitfalls
There are other sources of problems you’ll want to avoid that can hinder your practice from taking off, such as:

  • Insurance availability and cost, particularly health insurance
  • Legal issues, such as choosing the best form of business to operate, particularly if you’re partnership with one or more other people, licensing, and if you work at home, zoning and condominium association regulations
  • Managing time
  • Tax planning and preparation
  • Technology problems

Of these, one stands out. The cost and difficulty of obtaining health insurance in the United States keeps many Americans from striking out on their own. One indication of this is that a higher percentage of Canadians are self-employed than are Americans. A major reason for this is that at all Canadian residents are entitled to public health insurance coverage. Canadians have health insurance regardless of their type of employment.

What is one business tool that you cannot survive without ?

The computer because it extends our brains, our capabilities, and our markets.

What is the best piece advice you have ever received about running a business ?

Do what comes naturally and either delegate or learn how to do the rest.

Finally, your five keys to success?

  1. Having a dream – an ingredient of this is being curious
  2. The steam to be a self-starter
  3. Having the completion gene. In the short term, this is getting things done; in the long-term, it’s persistence in pursuing your dreams
  4. Being keen in understanding and relating to others
  5. The resiliency to self-redeem so you recover from setbacks.

Sites Of Interest

This interview was published on 27th July 2008

Visit Paul and Sarah’s website to get more information about their business and more work at home ideas / opportunities….

To read more stories about women in service industry click Idea Home Based Service Business

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