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Matt Keener, author of Executive in Sweatpants, says he can help you find success among the growing ranks of those who work from home.

First, tell me a little bit about your story.

After graduating from college in 2005 with a marketing degree, I entered the corporate world. Although I enjoyed my job, I never felt a burning desire to climb the ladder.

After a few years, I decided to venture out and work for a start-up company. Like many start-ups, cash flow was unpredictable and overhead was devastating. The start-up’s unpredictability forced me to seek other sources of personal income. While evaluating several work-from-home options, I stumbled upon odesk.com.

Since creating my oDesk profile in 2008, I’ve helped over 50 companies on multiple continents achieve their marketing goals… all from the comfort of my home office.

What is Executive in Sweatpants?

The Executive in Sweatpants movement is intended for professionals who want more from their careers. As I point out on my blog, “Executive in Sweatpants is the opposite of a work-from-home ‘system.’ It is simply a proven game plan that I developed to successfully launch and grow my own work-from-home company.”

The way I see it, anyone with a tangible skill, a computer, and an Internet connection can be successful by working online. Freelance marketplaces such as oDesk and others help make this possible. My goal is to educate the population on such opportunities and train them to become successful in the new virtual workspace.

Matt Keener

Matt Keener

Please give me examples of those systems you mentioned that don’t work.

Before I started my own business via oDesk, I had grown weary of the work-from-home radio commercials. After investigation, many of these “systems” turn out to be glorified pyramid schemes (or worse) and require you to buy something before working. This has negatively impacted the way Americans perceive the work-from-home movement.

When launching Executive in Sweatpants, I tried to be sensitive to the needs of those who are looking for online work. As such, I’ve packed my blog with many resources and kept the book’s pricing as low as possible.

The content is not a gateway to an online career. Rather, it is intended to serve as a guide to help you win more clients and be more successful from home.

And what do you propose instead?

Well, as I’ve already said, you don’t need to buy into any system to begin working from home.

I recommend that people evaluate the different freelance marketplaces carefully (I prefer oDesk), sign up for free accounts, and begin building a virtual resume. From there, it’s up to each person on how successful they become.

One of your blog posts mentions myths about working from home. Can you give me a couple?

When I tell people I work from home, I still get skeptical looks. I sometimes think people assume that I’m unemployed and just play around on YouTube all day. If you decide to pursue a work from home career, be advised that some friends and relatives may hold this false assumption about you.

Some also assume it’s impossible to build a stable income without a “real job.” I disagree. Without revealing how much I actually make, it’s safe to say I make way more than I would be making at my old corporate job.

What kind of person would you say is most likely to succeed with working from home?

In addition to being an online worker, I hire a lot of people too. When looking for a virtual team member, I look for these characteristics:

Reliability – Like any employer, companies that hire online want people who agree to deadlines and meet them. Since you’re not in a physical office, your word becomes even more important in a virtual setting.

Knowledge – If you have a skill, chances are it’s in high demand online. Sales, marketing, information technology, administrative support, accounting, and everything else you can imagine are being done online.

Commitment to the customer’s success – As an online worker, you serve several customers – not a single employer. Your commitment to helping them achieve success is vital to your own.

Any success stories you can share of people who have followed your plan?

My barber was telling my story to another customer whose wife was very disgruntled at work. She especially disliked missing so many of her kids’ extracurricular activities. After hearing my story, she was inspired to launch her own online career. Today, she is working full-time for several clients from the comfort of home, enjoys taking the kids to school, and is much happier with her life.

On a slightly different note, recently I was recruiting for someone who could help me market my book. During the interview process, I sent the book to the candidates. Turns out that one gentleman took my suggestions to heart and is now busier than ever. He actually retired from his “real career” a few years ago, but is now finding fulfilling work into his golden years.

Let’s say I’ve been working freelance design on weekends but now I’m inspired and ready to quit my day job and make a go of it full-time. What’s my first step?

First, don’t quit your day job. You need to make sure the economics are right. I would strongly suggest you put together a short-term and long-term plan and build a transition plan for yourself. You need to make sure that your newfound success remains a blessing – and not a curse. I would consider the following when making this decision:

What has been my net income for the past three to six months?

Are my clients reliable and indicate a desire to keep me busy in the future?

How long will it take me to replace any lost income from quitting my job?

How will I replace employer-provided benefits, such as health insurance, retirement, et cetera?

Can you suggest other resources for those who think they’re ready to work from home?

A few of my personal favorites include:

oDesk blog - odesk.com

Entrepreneur blog - entrepreneur.com/blog

Freelancers Union - freelancersunion.org

Executive in Sweatpants blog - executiveinsweatpants.com

Any words of advice for those brave souls?

When in doubt, doing is better than planning. However, planning is an important step to make sure you’re not making a bad decision. Always have a can-do attitude, work hard, and no one will stop you. You can do it!

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