The Kindness of Strangers
Writing the Homepreneur book is gathering pace.
The research is fascinating and the more I talk to people about the idea the more enthused I become. But I feel it needs to answer more than just the challenges I have faced over the 20 year period of working from my home office – it needs to ask the audience! Consequently. I decided that to better inform the book by launching a survey which is the perfect way to gather data and opinion. Using the industry standard survey software, SurveyMonkey, I structured a short, easy to answer set of questions seeking a combination of qualitative and quantitative data. I wanted it to be straightforward, to take now more than a few minutes and to ask people to leave their contact details if they wanted to receive the results. The result is just 8 questions, taking a less than three minutes to answer.
The questions are shown below. The whole survey can be found here: Survey Monkey survey
- What is your current freelancing job role?
- How long have you worked as a freelancer?
- Do you work from home?
- Which of the following do you find challenging when working from home
- Switching off to get a balance between work and family life
- Focus and distractions
- Having to do everything ( marketing, accounts, IT, admin, etc)
- Looking after your health and exercise
- Time management
- Delegating and/or outsourcing
- If you could change one thing about working from home, what would it be?
- Have you overcome these challenges? And if so, how have you overcome them?
- If you could give advice to someone thinking of starting out as a freelancer what would it be?
I crafted a simple request for help and got posting on Facebook. After a week I had well over 50 results mainly gathered from friends and members of our local business group. St Albans Businesses. As I reached 100 responses I got rather hooked on the results. There are some fascinating answers:
“I'd put a lock on the fridge between 2 and 4pm…..”
“Having a designated space or office to work in rather than using my kitchen table.”
“Build a garden office with space for a second desk so I can do collaborative work from home from time to time. I need a bigger garden first!”
I was fortunate to meet a really helpful guy, Chris Walters, at a co-working event. He's a talented business improvement expert with great data analytics' skills and he offered to help me analyse the data once I complied it. No charge – just out of interest and the goodness of his heart. He decided on an analytics tool which I’m unfamiliar with called Power BI which is a free piece of software from Microsoft. Spurred on by this act of kindness, I decided to work towards getting not just a couple of hundred responses but pushing the boundary to 750. No mean feat. At the time of writing I’m about a third of the way there. This has been achieved in three ways:
- Sharing in Facebook groups such as Freelance Heroes, Internet Business Mastery and Youpreneur Summit
- Sending it out to my email list as part of a newsletter. I’ll be repeating this in a couple of weeks making it the focus of the message and,
- Asking my LinkedIn connections who have the word ‘freelance’ in their profile if they would complete it.
At the beginning, the participants were people I know, but as the days have passed there have been an increasing number of strangers willing to take a few minutes out of their day to take part for no other reason than I asked.
So the random act of kindness of strangers has so far meant I’m about a third of the way to my target at which point there will be the mammoth task of categorising and analysing the responses and putting the results onto the website. The main purpose of the analysis will be to learn which challenges are most universal and to discover how different people have overcome them. The Homepreneur book will then focus on providing guidance on the best techniques for making a home based business successful.
Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you. Princess Diana