Elance Blog

201 Great Ideas for Your Small Business: In Days and Out Days

As my business flourished and life became more demanding, I really needed a way to structure my work schedule. I came up with this great idea when I was working out of my home office in rural Sun Valley, California, a suburb of Los Angeles. Because L.A. traffic is such a nightmare, trying to make it to one meeting across the city meant I would be out most of the day.

About five years ago, we moved to Sharon, Vermont, from New York City. We live in a former summer camp on 440 acres located about 15 to 20 miles from civilization, if you consider Hanover, New Hampshire, civilization.

Similar to Los Angeles, you need several hours to get to and from an appointment around here. So, to maximize productivity, I schedule “in” days and “out” days. Here’s how it works: on my “in” days, I don’t leave the office, except perhaps to mail a letter at the post office or pick up milk at the Sharon Trading Post—a mere seven-mile round-trip. I spend “in” days writing columns, marketing materials or proposals, returning calls, and handling financial matters and paperwork.

On my “out” days, I stay out from morning until night. I schedule back to-back appointments, often ending the day by joining a friend for dinner and a movie in town.

During the day, I check e-mail wherever I am, thanks to free public Wi-Fi, or on my smartphone. I find this system boosts productivity, especially for elancers who are juggling multiple projects.

Try this system and let me know if it works for you.

- Excerpted from 201 Great Ideas for Your Small Business by Jane Applegate, published by John Wiley & Sons and available for pre-order on Amazon.com, and also in all e-book formats.

About the Author
Jane Applegate is one of America’s most respected small business management experts. A popular keynote speaker and commentator, she the author of four books on small business success, including 201 Great Ideas for Your Small Business and The Entrepreneur’s Desk Reference. She writes a small business columns for OpenForum.com, Cox Communications, and Montecito Bank. Prior to starting her own multimedia production company, she was an award-winning syndicated columnist for the Los Angeles Times.

Jane is embarking on a nationwide book tour, meeting and interviewing entrepreneurs and business owners. For details, please visit her site or the Elance Blog here.

The 201 Great Ideas for Your Small Business Book Giveaway

To you, we pose the following question:

Why is this a great time to start your own business?

We wanted to give away five copies of Jane’s newly revised 201 Great Ideas for Your Small Business randomly to elancers who share their answers with us. The winners, who were chosen by the random number generator at Random.org, shared their tips on the Elance Facebook Page. And the winners are...

Rameal Zoobalan
Ryan Newhouse
Ron Saito
Christine Stump
Tasha Michole Vallejo Mendez

Let's also take a few moments to share some of your responses!


  • ‎"Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." - Ben Franklin

    I'm not willing to give up my Liberty (e.g. - work when I choose, vacation when I choose, hire who I choose to work with) for a bit of Safety (e.g. - regular paycheck and benefits). 
  • With the economy the way it is, and jobs being limited right now, what better time to start your own company. You don't have to wait for someone else to come through for you and you may just have the next big idea that people are looking for.
  • Because you can make things happen on your own and not have to wait for someone to hand things to you. Business are not hiring so, if you can't join them... beat them.
  • Many great companies were started during recessions. For example , GE, IBM, Disney and of course, Microsoft. Don't let the economy fool you, start now.
  • Because making it work in this economy makes us lean and muscular, ready to bound forward when things turn the corner, as they always do.

If you have any more tips to share, make sure to leave a comment below or head over to our Facebook page!


It is a great time to start a small business because I have left the run of the mill job and am currently enjoying a renewed energy and need to make art. Probably the best time to sell art is when you can produce the work just as fast as it is being sold. I never had time or energy before to work a full time job then come home to more work on my first love, my art. Time to concentrate on what I love most and discover new ways to pay the bills without feeling empty and tired all the time.