Judy, what did you do before
you started a home business?  

Worked in Fortune 100 companies as a consumer and market research analyst.
Right before I started Highly Contagious Marketing I was a technical writer and

What was your biggest challenge in starting your home business?  

Getting focused.

What has been your biggest challenge staying in business?  

Setting up effective systems to attract prospects and to get them engaged in what
I'm doing.

What do you love about working from home?  

I've been telecommuting since 1988 when I bought my first Macintosh PC. I've
always disliked commuting because I don't like to waste time sitting in my car. Plus
as someone whose work was largely done on the phone or on the computer, it
seemed kind of silly to drive two hours a day to do what I could easily do at home.
Now there are times when face-to-face meetings are very important especially early
in the business relationship. But once the relationship is established most of my
work is done by phone, email, and other technologies.

I have two cats and they like to sleep in my office. One of them sleeps on my desk
right behind the computer (probably because it's nice and warm). Even on the most
stressful day, it's hard to get too out of whack when you have a cat sleeping very
contentedly near you.

What do you dislike about it?  

From time to time when I have technical problems with the computer I feel kind of
stuck until I can find a good repair person to take care of the problem. My husband
usually works out of the home and when my 10-year old needs to be picked up
from school or a friends house, I'm the one who does it.  

How do you do to inspire or motivate yourself everyday?

I remember the bigger picture around why I'm doing what I do. It means a lot to me
that I can do what I most enjoy and help my clients succeed.  

How do you separate home life from your work life?

My office is in one room and once I'm done with work, I'm done. I don't answer my
cell phone except in emergencies and I don't check my email. I'm pretty strict with
myself on that.

How do you keep family/home/work all in balance?

It's not all in balance all the time. There's a lot of adjustment all the time depending
on what is going on in my business and my family. I have a lot of flexibility in my
work because I don't travel much so my time is my own to use as I need. It also
helpful that I'm just hard-wired to be well-organized so I'm very strategic with
making sure I do my work in the time I have to do it. If I know I only have until 3
pm to get my work done, I make sure that I use that time well.

Where is your office in your home?

I work out of a spare bedroom. It's small but I sit right next to a large window with a
view of our garden. I also hired a carpenter to install shelves and file drawers along
one entire wall so there's lots of space for storage. Eventually I'd like to have a
sliding Japanese shoji screen to hide the shelves and drawers.

What is your daily routine?

I'm up by 7:00 am (which is somewhat painful because I'm a night owl) and after I've
showered and changed I fix myself breakfast which always includes a big pot of
French Roast coffee and a Diet Pepsi. (Gotta have the Diet Pepsi!) Around 8 am, if
I'm driving in the carpool I drive my son and the other kids to school and I'm
usually back by 8:30 a.m.

I go through my email and respond if I can in five minutes or so. Otherwise, I
schedule a task to handle the email. I also listen to any phone messages and do the
same thing in terms of calling right away or doing it later. Once the emails are done
I update my planner. Sometimes when I'm working on something that really needs
to get done but I'm feeling some resistance for I'll spend the first 1-2 hours of my
day on the project. For example, when I need to write articles or copy but I'm feeling
a little like, "Oh, I really don't want to do this," I'll just write something even if it's
not much good because once I'm more in the flow writing begins to get much easier.

In a lot of ways I'm probably like a lot of small business owners in the sense that my
days are always different in terms of what I'm doing. I do prioritize my activities
and try to follow the 80% of your bottom line is based on 20% of your activities.

I try to take a walk or take a break some time during my work day.  I don't eat a
formal lunch unless I'm actually meeting someone for lunch. I usually snack
at my desk on cups of soup, popcorn, trail mix, and, I must admit peanut M&Ms.

I end the day by 6 PM at the latest. On school nights, I usually spend some time
helping my son  with his homework. When that's done, I relax & watch TV or rented
movies or read.

What is your biggest (or proudest) achievement so far?

Redesigning & launching my new website, building the subscription list for my
Contagious Marketing e-zine, and bring three new clients into my practice in just
the last few months.

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

I'd like to get my articles and offers in front of more business owners because I'm
feeling ready to serve a larger audience. I also want to just get people more
engaged and have some substantive conversations around small business

I think blogging may be the best route for this and have two blogs: one for business
and one for fun. I have to admit though that I'm not doing the best  job write posts
for my own blog or commenting in other people's blogs which is really at the heart
of having a good blog. So I'm trying out different approaches including having
guest writers add posts so others are contributing content. It will be interesting to
see how this evolves.

One of my favorite activities in my business is developing information products.
I'm working on an ebook called
30 Ways to be Remarkably Memorable and a self-study
web based course based on my More Referrals NOW teleclass.

What advice can you give about starting
a home business?

Know yourself and what you need to feel
satisfied. I've always been very content to spend
time alone. I enjoy people, too but if the day goes
by and I haven't spent hours on the phone that's
fine by me. There are super extroverts who will
go totally nuts if they're not with people. The
danger I've seen for the folks who need a lot
of social interaction is that they spend a lot
of time running around to networking meetings,
and social events, and so forth but very little
of that time is really helping their business.
Working at home may not be the best option
for these folks.

Second piece of advice is to acknowledge and accept that you're human and you
and your business are not going to develop on a linear timetable. Somehow our
culture adopted the expectation that you do a, b, c and boom you're "done." My
business has developed in fits and starts. I'll go through periods of uncertainty
when I'm doing activities that don't seem to be producing much. Then those
activities will start to pay off and I'll get a burst of activity. I also think we, as human
beings, just need to time develop. It takes time for our brains to integrate new
information and skills in ways that we can apply that information and really add

Third is don't work too hard
. Make time for fun and relaxation. I'm really guilty of
not taking breaks or having fun because I "haven't yet earned it." But you know
what? You get grim and boring to be with if you're not having fun. People are more
attracted to others who are clearly enjoying their work and have that sparkle. You're
just more fun to be with and to work with. One of the nice things about having a
home business is that you're not a slave to the clock. You can take time off during
the day to do something fun. Yesterday I took the afternoon off to go with my son to
adopt a kitten. It would have been hard to justify that working for someone else.  

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

Probably have kept a day job at least part time for awhile. It took me some time to
really focus in on what I wanted my business to be and having the extra income
would have taken some stress off so I wasn't feels so much like "I have to know
right NOW!!"

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

I love doing graphic design on the computer. It's very fun and relaxing for me to
play around with creating logos and images for my information products and
promotion materials. I've been a great fan of Japanese design for years, especially
the patterns they use in everyday items. The patterns make great backgrounds and
I've occasionally used Japanese heraldic crests in logos.

I probably sound like a huge slug but frankly I'm perfectly happy watching TV if
there's a show on that I like (I watch  a lot of Law & Order, CSI, Ugly Betty, and The
Simpsons) If there's nothing on we rent movies from Netflix and watch  those. I've
been on a Star Trek (original series) kick for several months and am watching all the
episodes in their original order.

I also read a lot of fiction especially horror and science fiction although I'll
occasionally read mysteries and thrillers. I just finished the newest Harry Potter
book and have been re-reading Weaveworld by Clive Barker which is one of my
favorite fantasy/horror books. It's so good on many levels and reading it is like
eating a favorite meal.

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HOW Profile: Judy Murdoch / Marketing Consultant
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Judy Murdoch  email
Highly Contagious Marketing
Denver, Colorado

Started Business: 2005
Hours per week:  35 - 40
Happy at home index:   8
Success at home index:   6

Marketing consultant to small
business owners.
Judy Murdoch.  Click here for more HOW profiles...
Judy Murdoch, in her home office