Go Part Time or Flextime, or Telecommute

How does Superman do it? He’s busy saving the world and yet he still has time for his job at the Daily Planet. If you’re one of the hundreds of thousands of eBay business owners who also hold down a day job, you probably wish you had super powers, too. How else are you supposed to maintain your dual identity, grow your eBay business, and still succeed at your 9 to 5? Here are some suggestions.

Is there any way for you to tweak your work schedule, reduce your hours, or telecommute? Many companies offer these options, but don’t be dismayed if your employer is not one of them — yet. You may be able to convince your boss to change course. There are books, career counselors, and websites that are devoted to helping you achieve that goal. One site, Work Options, helps you write a proposal for your boss and even provides scripted responses to typical objections such as, “We’ve never done this here before,” or “If you telecommute, everyone will want to.” Here’s how these arrangements can work for you.

Flextime. Flextime permits a nontraditional schedule for an employee — for example, working a full-time job in less than five days. At least one study has found that flextime improves productivity, lowers costs, and decreases absenteeism.

Telecommuting. It’s no surprise that more employers are providing a telecommuting (working at home) option. It cuts operating costs (especially costs associated with real estate), it brings some workers (especially salespeople) closer to customers, and like flextime, it’s great for keeping employees loyal and happy by eliminating grinding commutes and allowing workers to spend more time with their families (and on their eBay business).

Part time/job sharing. Going part time (assuming you can afford it) allows you to keep a regular paycheck and maybe work benefits, too. Some employers create part-time positions by job sharing — two workers sharing the duties of one full-time job. Although job sharing may not sound workable at first, it is effective. For example, after the furniture chain Ikea began providing benefits such as job sharing (as well as telecommuting and condensed workweeks), sales staff turnover dropped from 76% to 36%.

Get organized. If keeping a job and running your business is making you feel scattered, take some time to improve your organizational skills. It may be the easiest, least-expensive way to improve your business and reduce some of your stress. Check out LifeOrganizers, where you'll find helpful tips on organizing your life and business.

Two popular organizational gurus are David Allen (Getting Things Done) and Julie Morgenstern (Organizing From the Inside Out). Allen’s methodology combines discipline, action, and office supplies. Morgenstern concentrates on helping you organize your mind first and your tasks second. Her premise is that, if your thoughts are disordered, you’ll continue to create unrealistic schedules that increase frustration.

Get help. Sometimes the best way to juggle the day job/business lifestyle is to bring in someone else to help with your business. That doesn’t mean you give up control; it just means you must pay and supervise someone else. For more information, see the section Hiring Help.

Get the right day job. Some people are lucky enough to have a day job they enjoy and an eBay business they love. If you’re not satisfied with your day job, maybe you should consider an alternative. Okay, okay, it’s not an easy thing to do — but sometimes the change can help your business by bringing you in contact with new people or a new industry. As you can imagine, there are many books, videos, and websites offering advice on changing your job. In the book department, you can’t go wrong with the classic What Color Is Your Parachute? by Richard Nelson Bolles (Ten Speed Press). As for websites, the leader is Monster.com.

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