Connie Sparks
The Wade Institute
csparks@wadeinstitute.org
Santa Clarita, California

Year started working from home:
2000
Hours work per week: 48-60
Happy at home index: 5 (1=miserable, 10=Nirvana)

Type of business: Small Business Consulting
Prior career: Technology Manager

Why did you start a home business, and why this particular business?

I started my business for independence, freedom, flexibility, peace of mind, and to
support other entrepreneurs and small businesses.  Prior to my existing business, I
had another business, which remained in business for six years and ultimately had
to fold it, because I wasn’t well educated on all the details of owning a business and
staying in business.  Although, when I researched and called my City Clerks office,
City Hall and SBA, I couldn’t get any valid information that would help me through
my development.  So, I learned from my mistakes and was determined to build a
successful business that would educate entrepreneurs and partake a role in the
economy to create more successful small businesses, strengthen families and create
jobs for communities.

What was your biggest challenge in starting a home business?

Finding resources, balancing family and work were my greatest challenges.  
Fortunately, I was gifted with a keen sense of business, therefore, I knew I needed a
business plan, financial projections, a marketing plan and had to network.  I joined
network groups and attended workshops to build my skill set and learned what it
took to be a successful entrepreneur.  I had four small children at the time when I
started my first business, by the time I ventured into my current business, my
children were in high school and allowed me to dedicate more time to work on my
business, however, I did realize although they were teenagers, they still required
my attention, so I had to develop a schedule, which included my job, family and
business.

What do you love about working from home?

Have more control of my scheduled appointments, didn’t have to get up everyday
and put on a suit, could work at my leisure and spend more time with my
daughters.

What I hate about working from home?

When I had to meet with a client I couldn’t meet with them at my home, so I had to
meet at a restaurant, which can be very costly when you’re footing the bill.  
Additionally, you can get too lax and it slows your growth process.

How do you inspire or motivate yourself everyday?

On my bedroom wall at the entrance of the door, I placed a scripture from James 1:
25, which I read every morning when wake up.  This scripture is a promise made
between God and his children.  Keeping in mind my true purpose and mission,
which is to support, educate and strengthen people who live in rural communities,
with ideas, visions and goals to enhance their lives.  Moreover, having the desire to
be an entrepreneurial advocate for small business owners plays an active role in my
motivation to continue building businesses nationwide.

How do you separate home life from work life and what is your daily routine?

Fortunately, my daughters are grown up now, however I am in a relationship and it
does require some attention.  Thanks to my great time management skills, I have a
daily routine and schedule, which I follow to keep me on track.  I wake up at 5:30
am, to allow myself time to review my calendar, read e-mails, make breakfast and
review any reading material.  Between 7 and 9 am I do my household chores, make
phone calls and schedule appointments.  During the hours 10-5, I am either working
on the computer or attending meetings and 6-9 pm I prepare dinner, relax with my
significant other and think about work.  Lastly, if I am trying to meet a deadline,
prepare for a presentation or workshop I will usually work until 12 am. Fortunately,
I’m in a relationship, where establishing a professional career is important and well
supported.

Where is my office in your home?

My office space is located in my bedroom.

What has been your greatest achievement so far?

My biggest achievement thus far is partaking in
the development of several small businesses in
California and fulfilling my goals to educate
entrepreneurs, create opportunities for them
and provide them with the tools to introduce their products/services into the
market place.  Moreover, I also consider my level of growth, sustainability in
business, expanding and being a leader in my industry a major achievement and
accomplishment, considering what and where I started.

What are you working on right now to grow your business?

I recently publicized and begin marketing a new Entrepreneurship Program, which
covers four major aspects of owning a business such as how to start a business;
business plan writing; access to capital and creating marketing plans.  Each course
focuses on the technical side of building a business such as licensing, structure,
creating financial projections, how to research the market and industries relevant to
their business and other significant development areas. This program has gained
great recognition among colleges, small business development centers, lending
institutions, community members and other business leaders.  It is offered at a rate
below market, to provide striving entrepreneurs the opportunity to learn what it
takes to start a successful and profitable business.  Additionally, I’ve developed a
new division to my services “Consultant Training Bureau”.  This is a certification
program targeted at college students, retirees, homemakers seeking independence,
and professionals transitioning into a new career.  It’s great for starting an
independent consulting business and earning a residual income.

What advice can you give others about starting a home business?

Be organized, ambitious, self-discipline and have great time management skills.  
Create a list of five important reasons why you want to be in business, what success
means to you and what failure means to you.  Use this list as a motivator to
stimulate and get the juices flowing.  It’s easy to get caught up in a lax mode, which
can inhibit you from working at your full potential, so it’s very important to have
something, which motivates you.  If you don’t know why you're in business, then
what’s your motivation to be successful?  Make your office space as comfortable as
possible, considering you will be spending a large amount of time in this space and
set a schedule with a daily routine to keep you on track.

If you had it to do all over again what would you do (or not do)?

I would move into a large home with more space to make my environment more
comfortable and have a room set up where I could hold professional meetings and
save money on entertainment expenses.

What do you do for fun when you're not working?

I like jazz, so my significant other and I attend weekend jazz concerts, go to the
movies and visit various restaurants.

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