Barbara Ramirez – My Virtual Partnr

Jun 13, 2022

Season 3 / Episode #71 : Barbara Ramirez

by Work @ Home RockStar Podcast

The Back-Story

Barbara, co-founded My Virtual Partnr in 2015 to put together their corporate and strategic planning background and expertise and create a simple strategic planning program for Small Businesses, like yours, that are seeking to scale in business. They have enjoyed creating this roadmap to get work done for our business, and now they are giving it to you because they want you to succeed in your business.

They have managed to pivot their business by focusing on what’s actually important and dismissing what was keeping us away from our ultimate goal by just keeping things simple.

Show Notes

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In This Episode:

[0:47] Barbara’s story of success
[3:35] What was something that didn’t go according to her plan?
[10:20] How did she know she was charging appropriately and not under or overcharging?
[13:12] How does she approach cash flow in her business?
[17:01] Need any help with your website? Check out https://creativecrewagency.com/ and book a free consultation now.
[20:00] Where she set up her home office
[23:47] On finding people she can work with
[29:17] What’s new with her business right now?
[30:43] Who would be her ideal client?
[32:56] Find out more about Barbara
[34:59] Outro

Transcript

Read Transcript

Intro / Outro: Are you a work at home rockstar or do you dream of becoming one? Then you found the right podcast. Your host, Tim Melanson talks with successful work at home rock stars to learn their secrets and help you in your journey. Are you ready to rock here’s Tim?

Tim Melanson: Hello and welcome to today’s episode of the work at home rockstar podcast.

Excited for today’s guest. She is an online business manager and productivity. With my virtual partner and what she does is she helps clients build the entire backend operation systems and automation and optimize their time. Very excited to be rocking out today with Barez Barba. Are you ready to rock

Barbara Ramirez: Yes, yes. Thank you.

Tim Melanson: Did I get your name okay. This time? Yes. I’m yes, it’s. It’s perfect. I’m trying anyways. So we always start off in a good note here. So tell me a story of success in your business. So we can be inspired by.

Barbara Ramirez: Okay. Story of success. I can say that I’m so happy where I am right now today after eight years, like an entire roller coaster, working from home, remotely things, doing things that I got that I like that I don’t like.

And now I feel that I’m in a good place. That, eh, I can say that I’m successful with my business. I say that everyone, eh, has a different definition of success. So it’s not just about Bonnie. It’s how you feel for me. That’s success, how you feel, where you are right now with everything that you have. So I can say that for me right now, because I’m back home.

I’ve been, eh, I could say I was Anat for the past five years and it was because decisions of life, I wasn’t happy those five years now. I’m happy now I feel successful because I get to keep working with my clients. Less clients than before, but better ones and clients that I have long term relationships.

And I do enjoy working with them. I have more time for me, like to spend with my husband, with my dog and to do things that we like. So. I will say that that will be my story for today. And I wish I could say that to the barber eight years ago. Like, don’t worry. Everything is going to be okay. Uh, you’re going to be in a good place sometime.

So everything that happens is just a. We call it failures. We, we can also call them learnings. Okay. Uh, it’s just things that needs to happen because you need, it’s going to lead you to value more, the things that you will have in the future. So yeah, I will say that’s, eh, that’s my success right now. The place that I’m at right now, I’m really happy.

And I’m so grateful for, for all of.

Tim Melanson: That’s awesome. That’s awesome to hear. And I’m glad that you mentioned that, uh, definition of success as well, because you’re you’re right. I think a lot of people sort of think, you know, the goal of life is just to make as much money as possible, I guess, but I don’t know if that really leads to good lifestyle, right?

I mean, oftentimes you’re, you’re working too much, so, you know, but what I love about working from home and, and, and creating your own business is that you get to design your life. That makes you happy and that can be whatever you want it to be. and it sounds like you’ve found a real groove, right?

Barbara Ramirez: Yeah, exactly.

Tim Melanson: So you mentioned some, some failures we won’t call them failures. We’ll call them learning experiences. Uh, but I call them bad notes. So I’m wondering, can you share with us something that didn’t go as planned and maybe how we can, uh, you know, recover from it or avoid it? If, if we see it coming towards us,

Barbara Ramirez: Yeah.

So a bad note, eh, for me, I really like that work, eh, so it could be at a point of my, of my business, where we were having kind of. Coaching or advising for someone else because we see them as really successful at that moment. Um, and then I, we try to learn from them and replicate what is good for them. So we apply it to ourselves, but then we see it’s all just about making money.

Like, yeah. So the, the only thing that you can have, the success that I have is if you make more money and if you raise, uh, if you raise your prices, It didn’t feel so good for me at that moment, because I felt that I was charging my clients like the, the proper amount for the services that I was providing.

I’ve never been the kind of person that is going to overprice my clients, just to say that I make. 10 K a month, just because everyone does 10 K a month. And at that moment I was having like this pressure. Yes. But you have to do it. You hire me to be your coach to do all of this. And I end up losing all of that.

I end up quitting the coach quitting, all of that because it didn’t feel so good. Obviously it affected like my business. I lost, uh, a few clients because of that. Um, I will say. Before, before deciding on, on going to have someone call you or mentor you or guide you to something, you need to do a, an inner work first and you need to, eh, visualize.

And sometimes people, eh, use this word wrongly, actually, how you see yourself in five years in 10 years, doing what you’re doing right now. What would you need right now to, to start doing in order to be where you want to be? This is something that I from, from all the, that portion that I took, I took one from when I was working remotely for full time for a company.

They, they eh, got me into a coaching for the company and, and to be better leaders. And we did something from strategic coach that is from Canada and the, they had this question that it really, I applied now for everything. If we were going to meet in X amount of time from. What will need to happen all the, all that time for you to feel great where you are right now.

So that’s what I’m applying. Right? Right now. I understand it now. I wish I understand it six years ago, seven years ago, but that’s what I do. And whenever, even when someone comes to me, like, I want your guidance. I’m like, no, do this work first. And then when you, when you figure out the things that you actually.

And if I’m the person for that, I’m happy to, to work with you, but if not, then you, you need to figure it out first yourself. I’m not going to be the person that is going to tell you what to do, because otherwise you’re going to be frustrated if it doesn’t go in the way that you would like it to be. So that was my, my bad notes.

Eh, at that point,

Tim Melanson: Yeah. So I, I, I definitely understand what you’re talking about with, you know, making sure that you know exactly what you’re looking for in a coach before you go get the coach. Um, and, uh, I, I, you know, I. I bet you there’s a lot of people that fall into that same trap that you were talking about, about going to find a coach and then the coach trying to pressure you into just making more money.

And, you know, maybe that’s the path for some people, you know, but on the other hand, you know, as you mentioned in the very beginning, part of your reason why you feel you’re successful is because of the lifestyle and how you feel about your business. And so if you feel like you’re providing adequate value for the money that you’re receiving, then that’s gonna make you feel good.

However, if you feel like you’re ripping your clients off, that’s not gonna make you feel good, right?

Barbara Ramirez: No. No, it doesn’t. And your clients are going to notice that your clients are going to notice when you are overcharging them, because when they go to you, they they’ve also talked with other people. Yeah.

And the, the word is actually really small. I have had clients, I have a partnership with another eh, company that does exactly what we. And they hire us to do what wide label of our services for their clients, because they just need more people. So they hire us to do that. And yes, we have like an entire non-compete and all of that, and it’s been great.

We’ve been almost a year working together and there was this time that there was a company that reached out to us for our services. And they, they mention about this other company that they already talked with them. I’m like, okay, no, you have to talk with, you already went to them. You have to, because I cannot, eh, work with you directly.

Yeah. I have a partnership with them. So if, if it was someone else, they will go to the client, they would charge them like exactly what they did. It didn’t feel so good to me. Uh, like doing that. And I heard people like, why. You could have, uh, charge to them and do like text exam at work. I’m like, no, it doesn’t feel so good.

Yeah. I’d rather, uh, keep it in the way that it is because things come back to you eventually, when you, when you work in that, eh, like in that way, and that works the same when you’re oversharing your, your clients, but that come back to you in a way. Yeah.

Tim Melanson: Well, I, I have a question about that, so, okay. Um, What I’ve noticed is that many, many, many entrepreneurs, especially when they’re starting are, are actually undercharging their clients for the services that they’re providing.

And so I think that’s probably why a lot of coaches, when you go talk to them, the first thing they try to do is get you to increase your price. Cuz chances are you’re undercharging, but how, how did you decide. How did you know that you were charging appropriately and that you weren’t just undercharging for what you provide?

Barbara Ramirez: Okay. So that’s interesting. I it’s, it’s one of my, my bad notes from my, my entire eight years working from home because I, at some point I did realize I was undercharging just by the fact that I’m from Latin America. Most of clients in the us assume that we can charge less. And actually the, the cost of living here is very similar.

The, to, and the American cost of living. I don’t know why people think that is most is, is less expensive than in the us. So what I did, and this is something I learned in business school, um, one of the few things, uh, learnings from business school that I can apply to. How to actually, eh, like give a number to your, to your time, to your, our work with your clients.

So it’s a lot of factors, the kind of work that you’re going to do the, like, try to put, eh, a value to the knowledge that you’re bringing. If you need to spend more time doing research. So it’s a, it’s a lot of calculations you need to do, but it gives you like an standard. Of how you can value your hour in general, taking all, taking all those aspects in consideration, and then you will estimate, okay, this work that this client is asking, it will take us 40 hours to complete it, or it will take us, um, six months and in a total a hundred hours or 200 hours.

And then from there you will tell to your client how you’re going to charge them. When I do that, I give them all of that. Like the entire timeline everything’s going to take with the milestones and like, uh, like a really detail for the entire work, with all the milestones, how they’re going to cost to the client.

Okay. So that’s how I’ve been doing it. It really, it really works because. I know how much time I’m going to dedicate. And I also take in consideration, for example, I had to raise my prices when I hire someone to work with me. So I have to take that in consideration because I’m going to pay this person.

From the client we’re going to from the work we’re going to with the client. So those are things you need to, to consider, like all the factor, all the resources you are going to use for the work with your clients. That’s like the, the best way to, to estimate a fair price to your clients.

Tim Melanson: Love it love it right on.

Okay. So now let’s talk about keeping more money coming in. That’s what that’s going out. So, you know, there are expenses in business. So how do you approach the cash flow situation?

Barbara Ramirez: Okay. So. First thing that I do. And especially when it comes to all the tools that we use working from home, because we have, uh, zoom, we have Gmail, we have all of that.

That is usually on Monday basis. So what I do at the beginning of the year is calculate where the, the tools that I’m going to need, that I know I need to pay every month. And then I will figure out the ones that I can pay annually because you actually save. A lot of money. You say two to three months in expenses when you do them annually, but I will keep them in my, like, uh, I have a CA my cash flow and my estimation, so I will keep them my estimations on monthly basis because I will do, eh, this, this is, um, how would I say in English?

This is actually a term in finance. When you have to estimate your total expenses for a year, regardless that you pay them at one specific month of the year. So I do all of that. So for everything that comes in, I already have like a saving for when I need to pay that. I will know that I have the money for that.

Okay. That goes for the payment, for the, the virtual assistant, for the services that I need to pay for all of that. So the other part, I need to also make sure that I have consistent money every month for my clients. So that one is interesting because we always want to share everything like right now, but then that will give you like the sensation.

You have a lot of money when it, when you don’t, you have to know how to organize that in your cash flow. So that’s why I use the medicine system with my. Especially when it’s something that is going to take me more than two months, I will say, okay. Our work is going to be an entire, uh, timeline of six months.

So we’re going to break it into milestones. I’m going to charge you this milestones far as when is closed and it’s delivered. Then the other one in that way you receive consistent money. Every. Okay. And that is also good because sometimes when, when you have long term relationship with your clients, more things will come up.

Your client will start seeing the, all of the work that you’re delivering and they will say, oh, I just figure out, I think you can help me with this. Or I think you can help me with that. So you can gather all of that and then create a package to your client. Eh, that will give them like, okay, they’re going to receive a solution at a good price.

And then we’ll charge you for that. That will ha that has happened a lot with my clients. I have it now in the past, I was, I was being undercharged for all of that, like doing a lot and like, Getting like the, the lowest payment ever. Now I do it differently. That’s why we first focus on setting up all the systems, everything in the backend, it takes about six to eight weeks to do everything that we do.

And then they realize that we can also do like the work for, they realize they need to hire a VA for example. So we can provide that. After we set up all the systems and that, that keeps being a consistent income from our clients. Okay. So that’s how we have learned to do it now from. From all this experience.

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Wow. Okay. Wow. There’s a lot to unpack there. so for the expenses, you’re saying that try to figure out what’s expenses can be paid yearly instead of monthly, but also make sure that you’re putting money away every month, you know, sort of like. Pay it monthly to your own account. Mm-hmm so that, that account gets used for that, uh, for that expense.

Right. And then the other thing for income coming in, if you’ve got a long project, instead of just getting paid at the end or whatever, then set up milestones. And I, I really like that because I find that, uh, when you set up milestones, in order to even do that, you have to have a good roadmap of what you’re providing.

In order to even set up those milestones. Right. And I find that that helps with what you mentioned earlier. Like, I, I call it feature creep or scope creep where, you know, you’ve, you’ve started working on something and then all of a sudden there’s 10 other things that they throw on your plate and you’re like, no, no, no, no.

That’s not in this exactly. You know, this is all extra stuff. Exactly. Right. Uh, because otherwise you’re right. I mean, you, you can, if you don’t have a, a really good, uh, plan on what you’re gonna be providing to your clients, they can start to take advantage of that. And I, I think it’s like one of those things where we’re scared to set up that plan because we’re.

Maybe not confident that, uh, I don’t even know that we’re what we’re providing or maybe we don’t know how long this could take, but then it ends up not being in our favor. when we do it that way, it always ends up being something that we lose money on. If you don’t set that up. Right. Right.

Barbara Ramirez: Yes. Yes. Yeah. I have met, I have really good friends that work in design in web development and they they’ve been in that place where they’re like, yeah, but this client is now is now asking me all these things and they were at the beginning.

And then I just teach them a really quick, a quick way to see it with a project management tool, whatever tool you want to use and keep it like separate. Okay. This is what we agree. This is what I’m doing. Everything else, else that you’re asking me, we’re going to list it here and we can discuss it at the end of the project.

Yeah. To create a, a plan for that. So, yeah.

Tim Melanson: Yeah. Well that’s, my business is building websites, so yeah, I, I definitely, and it seems like when you, when you’re in one field, like people will kind of assume that you do everything else too. And it’s like, yeah, I, I can do some of those other things, but that’s gonna be a totally different project.

like, let’s do this one first and then we’ll move on. Um, so let’s talk a little bit about your, your jam room about your home office. So what, what have you got set up? Like where do you get your work done?

Barbara Ramirez: Okay. So as I told you, I’ve been NX expect for the F the past five years. I just, we just came back six months ago, uh, reorganizing our house and.

It’s a very small apartment and me and my husband, we both work from home. So imagine we need to have each right now I’m in his office because this is a holiday week. So I told him, okay, I’m going to use the office that I like it more. Uh, he has a, a home desk. We are going to paint it and put some, uh, frames so that it looks very, very nice.

Some frames that, uh, family gave to us. I have to get rid of, eh, you don’t see right now in the back, I have our gym. So this is an office slash gym. I have to get rid of that from here. And I figure out where, where to put it in the apartment. So it’s kind of that you feel during an office and it goes also when we’re going to work, uh, like dressed up, try to give it like an entire team to your office that you’re going to.

To the office and you’re not, eh, working from home and more importantly, like having rules, we have like this, um, like a, a whiteboard when we’re we are writing things down. For example, right now I’m I have reading. I’m in an interview, please don’t bother me. so whenever goes, uh, he, he goes around, he knows that I’m in an interview.

Okay. Okay. So that’s, that’s really, really important. We’ve been doing it since, uh, I start working from home first, then he joined me and when he. Start working from home too. We said that we need to have a communication system. He works differently to how I work for me. Everything is in my calendar. And I don’t have to have so many notebooks and all of that because I tend to lose them, but here it is different.

So I have to write things out. So I’m like I’m in an interview, don’t bother me. Don’t make noises, don’t put some music, anything. So that has to be anywhere where we work. We have to have a, a wide. And lastly, while my, I got a, a rocket, um, rocket book, I think it’s, it’s called that way, uh, is the one that you can write and then it erase and write again.

I’ve been having it for two years because I tend to lose papers when I see a paper around. Throw it to the trash, to the trash. So I, I tend to lose them. So that’s the best way for me not to lose anything. I will take a picture for whatever’s important and send it to my email and I know it will be there.

Um, so that’s basically, it’s very, very minimalistic, very, very simple. I try to give it in that way.

Tim Melanson: Yeah. I like talking about this topic cuz it’s something that, uh, is so important, but a lot of people don’t put that much time into considering how, uh, complicated it might be to be productive in your own home.

So all the distractions are there. I mean, there everything’s there and, and, and also when you’re at home, especially when you have family. Oftentimes they it’s their home too. So like you said, you know, it’s, oh, I’m just gonna blast some music, but they don’t realize that there’s someone actually working in the house.

Right. So I like your, uh, your system of having like a whiteboard where you just, you know, write what’s going on so that people can know that, oh, now’s the time to be, to be quiet, right. For this, this hour or whatever it is. Yeah. That’s good. Yeah. So now what about. You mentioned earlier that you had gotten to a point where you’re hiring.

So let’s talk a little bit about your band and about the people that you have in your business that help you get things done. So how do you approach, you know, finding people? What kind of people do you have right now that are working with you? Uh, and do you have any advice for us?

Barbara Ramirez: Okay. So finding for people is actually very easy.

You can use tools like websites, like upward fiber. There’s one here in Latin America that is called Guana is they’re all very similar. You can find freelancers for everything, finding real good people. Uh, it will depend on the kind of service that you are providing and. What you’re going to deliver to your clients.

Uh, you want to make sure this is a learning that, uh, I, I can share also here. You want to make sure that you save also your energy and this doesn’t cost you to spend so much time onboarding the person. So we apply what we say. We help our clients set up their entire systems. We have it for ourselves too.

So I’m the kind of person that is not going to onboard someone to tell them how to do something that it can be, uh, searchable on Google. You have to, you have to be able to figure it out by yourself. I will onboard any team member that will come to us on how we work. What is it that we deliver to the clients?

How do I expect for you to deliver things to me so that I can then pass it on to the clients and then have the meeting with them? All of that, know how you’re going to create something or how you’re going to create a document or a task or what you have to figure that out by yourself. So that’s actually the tricky part that you also know, how is your process and that is going to help you find the right people for that.

And know what kind of questions you are going to ask to this? Because let’s, let’s talk about virtual assistance. That is one of the roles that I have right now. We have two, eh, part-time they work like three hours a day or two hours, depending on, on the amount of work that we have virtual assistance. And you can search on up work virtual assistance, and you’re going to look a thousand people.

Okay, but what are they going to do? They’re going to work with email marketing. They’re going to work with social media. They’re going to work with automation. They’re going to work with . Okay. And now what is it that I need to ask them? Like besides of their experience and all of that? What I’m going to deliver, that is going to give me the questions I’m going to ask to them.

And that I expect from them to answer. And that is going to let me to know who I’m going to hire. So that will be like the main, the main learning that I always pass on, even to my clients, when they realize they need to hire more people, we will do this work. We will do the entire work of, okay, did this.

This is the person you need to find. So try to visualize it. Okay. The person you need to have in your team is, is, is going to be able to do all this, eh, all this task is going to is going to deliver all this for you. So that’s the person that you need to find in any of these eh, website. Okay. Nice. Nice. So,

Tim Melanson: yeah, so you’re more focused on the outcomes of what they are going to be delivering to you.

Rather than how they do it. .

Barbara Ramirez: Exactly cool. And actually, when, when I say that I have them, for example, you ask me about my business and, and my band, my team. So we don’t work, even though I estimate the work for my clients on our. We don’t work on hour because sometimes they can do things faster than I can.

And it’s not fair because instead of being one hour, I’m going to pay you for, because you learn how to do something in 50 minutes and that’s great for you. So I actually pay them like, and okay, I’m going to have you, and this is a monthly payment that I’m going to do for you. And for them it’s better because if they spend 15 minutes doing it, that’s okay.

I don’t mind. If you spend two hours doing that, well, that’s on your own, but I, I usually have really good people that really like fast on doing all of that and they feel happy because they will have more time to do other things. So, yeah.

Tim Melanson: Yeah. I, I definitely recommend that for, for everything. Like I try to not pay by the hour or charge by the hour and that’s the exact reason.

If you charge per package, then you are encouraging your team to get better at what they do and faster what they do. And then they get the benefit from that because the faster they can deliver the service, the more margin they have, you know, otherwise they’re more or less. They are encouraged to take their time.

Really, if you’re paying by the hour, cuz as they get better, they’re just gonna stretch that out. Cuz otherwise they’re making less money now. Right? Exactly right on. Okay. So it’s time for your solo. Tell me what’s exciting your business right now.

Barbara Ramirez: Everything so, yeah, I don’t know. I, I feel so great with the clients I’m working right now and like,

The overall industry that I can, that I can work with. I, at the beginning, I thought that because I’m working remotely, I can only work with online businesses and I’m working right now with an accounting firm that they don’t have online process. They have like an actual office and everyone works there, but they’re trying to incorporate online tools.

And somehow they reach to me and I help in this company that doesn’t have any kind of online presence. And I don’t know what, I, I don’t know. I, I, I assume that only online businesses were trying to figure out their systems and all of that. So it’s been actually very, very beautiful and that, I mean, it’s so exciting because you get to see how.

Like you can actually make an impact to someone and to how they work and how they feel better. So it’s, it’s been really, really nice. I, I didn’t figure out how much impact you can do with your, with your

Tim Melanson: words. So, so what would be, uh, the ideal client or the, the person that would get the most out of your services?

What, what, what, who would that be?

Barbara Ramirez: okay. So it has to be someone that is willing to get, like, get better in general, not just for them, but for their entire team. Because when, when a client, when the owner reached to me and is all about them, and I want to have more time and I have to want to have more for me.

And, and only for. They’re only, they’re going to keep their team away and they’re not going to care if their team is happy or not. And that is, I mean, that is not going to solve their problem. They have bigger problems if they don’t focus on the team, they have to focus on their team first. So my ideal client is when they come to me and they will say, okay, I have this team that is like, they’re working 10 hours a, a day, 12 hours a day that have happened.

Unbelievable. So, and they are, they are so tired. They don’t get enough rest. How can I help them? I don’t know what tools they will need. I don’t know their entire process because sometimes the owner don’t know the entire process. So that’s my idea, client that worries about the entire business and not just them as the owners and making more money and, and everything for them.

Okay. That’s that’s the people that I actually really enjoy working because you get to know everyone and, and you get to help, not just the business, but even that’s why incorporate being a productivity coach, because I’ve been work after working with my clients, like a specific person, help them. Organize like their entire life, because I’ve realized that they have someone that they’re just overwhelmed because they, they have so much on their, on their house.

They have so many things to handle and they don’t have the energy. So I try to help them optimize that. So.

Tim Melanson: Awesome. So how can we find out more about this.

Barbara Ramirez: Okay. So right now my website is been, uh, upgraded because everything we did it by ourselves, uh, to realize the wording that I have, eh, I’m not a copywriter and I did everything by myself.

So I hire a copywriter to help us with that. But it’s going to be soon at the end of this week is my virtual partner dot. That’s like the best place. You can find everything that we do. All the resources. Uh, I have like so many videos that are really good. Like if you want to know where to start, you can search them for them.

They’re going to be in a learn section. Okay. Like for everything, if you want to know how to organize your day, something like we assume everyone will know how to do it and not everyone will know how to do it. It’s hard. It’s actually hard. It, it goes beyond like having a pretty Google calendar with everything book.

It goes beyond that. So how, how to organize all of that, how to communicate with your family members and really focus on, on working from home. Because it’s, I, it is what I have right now is everything that I’ve learned. And right now, like after 2020, most of people work from home or hybrids. We have to incorporate that.

How to, even when you, I don’t have kids, but I have learned from clients that have kids, how to create a system for that, to incorporate your kids into your new lifestyle. Working from home that they know that mom and dad are working. They’re not because they’re home. You can play with them all the time.

Yep. And how you can also have time for them, because that’s really important. So

Tim Melanson: yeah, love it right on. Okay. So thank you so much for rocking out with me today. This has been a lot of fun. Yeah, yeah. To the listeners, make sure you subscribe right and comment, and we’ll see you next time on the work at home rockstar podcast.

Intro / Outro: Thanks for listening to learn how you can become a work at home rockstar or become a better one, head on over to workathomerockstar.com today.

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