You Are Not Alone

Do you work completely on your own? Do you enjoy few interruptions during the day because there are no colleagues on the premises who can show up in your doorway to ask you pressing questions? When your phone rings, do you know the call is for you and for you only, and not for one of a pool of other agents on the floor? Are you assured that all of the food in the refrigerator down the hall is yours, and that there is no risk that the plastic bowl of pasta you've just placed in it will be devoured by a near stranger before noon even rolls around? Ruthanne Terrero

Trying to Do It All

My goodness, working from your own business from home has its advantages. But let's face it, it has its challenges too. I'm certain that at times you feel as if you are trying to fulfill all of the travel desires of the entire world completely with only limited information and an insufficient amount of tools to get the job done.

If you do feel this way, I encourage you to create your own "at-home" network of colleagues in your area who are also working independently. What's better than getting together with a room full of people with like interests and similar challenges?

To get started, ask your host agency if it works with other agents in your area. You can ask the suppliers you deal with frequently the same question. It's not even necessary to get together with the other agents physically; you can do it virtually, meaning you just need to be able to connect electronically. The iMac I just purchased has video-conferencing and it's easy to add this capability to PCs these days as well.

When your group is formed, be sure to lay ground rules for your meetings. Build an agenda that reflects the common issues of the group. Once you get going, be vigilant about not allowing any one individual to dominate the discussion or use the forum as a platform to vent their trials and tribulations. In fact, it's imperative that from the get-go you make it clear to all that this is not a social gathering but rather a meeting of the minds.

Survey Results

Of course, another way to fight the challenges of being independent is to add staff to your business, whether it's another agent or an assistant. In our just-released reader survey some respondents said they would take on additional agents to diversify their business, while others said they didn't want to grow because they want to purposely keep their business small so they have enough time for family and travel.

Working independently sure has its benefits, and maintaining a flexible lifestyle is probably at the top of the list. That, and the ability to protect that food in the fridge!

Ruthanne Terrero, CTC Group Editorial Direcor [email protected] 212-895-8423,