Learn about starting a business, self-employment, and applying for a commercial driver’s license.
On This Page
- Start a Business
- Self-Employment and Working from Home
- Commercial Driver's Licenses
Start a Business
Building your own business from the ground up is an exciting opportunity, but it can also be challenging.
Follow the 10 steps from the Small Business Administration (SBA) to starting a business. You’ll learn about writing a business plan, determining the legal structure of your business, and more.
Avoid common mistakes and get advice from experienced small business owners who want to help. Local SBA partner organizations offer free access to mentors and trainers.
The following tips and checklists can help you with other important parts of the process.
Business Funding Options
Learn about funding options to help start your business, including government-guaranteed loans.
Tax Requirements to Start a Business
It’s important for your business to comply with federal, state, and local tax laws.
Make sure to meet all federal tax requirements for starting a business. Follow this checklist from the IRS.
Each state has additional tax rules when you start and operate a business. Get information on state-level requirements.
Learn more about business taxes, including energy tax incentives that can help you save money.
When starting your own business, you’ll need proper insurance coverage to make sure you are protected. Find out what kinds of business insurance you’ll need.
Learn about health insurance plans to cover you and your employees. The Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) is for small employers who have between 1 and 50 employees. Through this program, employers can provide their employees with health insurance.
Hiring Business Employees
When starting a business, you may decide to hire some help. Find information about hiring your first employee, including how to start the hiring process. You can also get information about key federal and state regulations that your business will need to comply with.
Hiring Foreign Nationals
By law, you must only employ individuals who have permission to work in the U.S. The online E-verify system allows companies to determine the eligibility of potential employees. Register your company with E-Verify.
Consumer Protection Law
As a business owner, it’s important for you to understand your rights and responsibilities when it comes to protecting your customers. Get tips and advice on complying with consumer protection laws. These laws cover many business-related topics, including advertising, marketing, privacy, security, and more.
Self-Employment and Working from Home
You are self-employed if you operate a trade, business, or profession either by yourself or with a partner.
Find out the basics of self-employment to help you succeed in the small business world:
– Explore opportunities and get tips to help you succeed. – Learn about filing requirements for the self-employed, reporting responsibilities, and more. – Explore coverage options for the self-employed. covers how to report your earnings when you file your taxes.
Work from Home
Are you thinking about basing your business out of your home? The Small Business Administration's 10 Steps to Start Your Business includes the licenses and permits you need to run a home-based business.
Home Office Deduction
If you use a portion of your home for business, you may be able to take a home office tax deduction.
Learn what to watch out for to avoid work-at-home scams. In one common scam, you may be tricked into paying to start your own internet business. These scammers will keep asking you to send money for more services related to this fake business opportunity. To file a complaint about a scam, contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Federal Government Telework Guidelines
If you’re a federal employee looking for information on teleworking, visit www.telework.gov.
Note: The federal government never charges a fee for information about, or applications for, government jobs. You can search and apply for federal government jobs for free at USAJOBS.
Commercial Driver's Licenses
A commercial driver's license (CDL) allows someone to drive vehicles used for business, like tractor trailers and buses. State motor vehicle agencies issue CDLs to drivers, if they pass state tests. Apply for a CDL with your state motor vehicle agency. States determine the:
- Application process
- License fee
- License renewal cycle
- Renewal procedures
- Reinstatement requirements after a disqualification
States issue classes of CDLs. The classes determine the types of vehicles that a CDL holder can drive. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) sets requirements for motor carrier companies and the state motor vehicle agencies.
Do you have a question?
Ask a real person any government-related question for free. They’ll get you the answer or let you know where to find it.
Regardless of where you are eating, proper etiquette at the table is important. Even when it's just you and your family having a meal together, you still want to set an example for your kids.
Although dining out has become more casual, it still isn’t acceptable to talk with your mouth full of food, rock the table with your elbows, or interfere with other diners’ experiences by displaying improper etiquette. It’s important to follow certain manners guidelines in both formal settings and fast food restaurants.
Learn Table Manners Basics
Table manners are important in both professional and social situations, so it’s a good idea to know some basics. There may be some slight variations, depending on your region and what is locally acceptable. So if you are at a dinner party, pay close attention to the host or hostess and take cues from them.
Whether no one ever taught you dining etiquette or you’ve forgotten what you learned, here are some tips to show that you know how to behave at the table. Using proper etiquette at the table will also help you socially and professionally in a restaurant or in someone’s home.
Before the Dinner
If you are invited to have dinner with someone, it is always a good idea to respond, even if an RSVP is not requested. This helps with planning. Don’t ask if you can bring extra guests if the invitation doesn’t make the offer. However, if your family is invited to someone’s home for dinner, it is okay to ask if your children are included. If they are, make sure your children know good manners before they go.
When you are dining at the home of a friend, it is a good idea to bring a host or hostess gift. Don’t expect your gift to be used during the meal. Most dinner parties have carefully planned menu items, and your gift may not go with the meal.
Some dinner parties are formal and have place cards where the host or hostess wants you to sit. If not, ask if there are seating preferences. Wait until the host sits before you do. In some cultures, a blessing will be said. Even if you don’t follow the beliefs of the prayer, show respect and be silent. If the host offers a toast, lift your glass. It is not necessary to “clink” someone else’s glass.
As soon as you sit down, turn to your host or hostess and take a cue for when to begin. Once the host unfolds his or her napkin, you should remove your napkin from the table or plate, and place it on your lap. If you are dining out, you should place your napkin in you lap immediately after you sit down.
Keep your napkin in your lap until you are finished eating. If you must get up at any time during the meal and plan to return, place the napkin on either side of your plate. After you are finished, place your napkin on the table to the left of your plate.
When to Eat
If you are eating out, you should wait until all the members of your group have been served before picking up your fork. At a private dinner, observe the host or hostess and pick up your fork when he or she does. However, if you are at a buffet, you may start when there are others seated at your table.
One of the most common issues to confuse today’s diners is which utensil to use for each course. A typical rule of thumb is to start with the utensil that is farthest from your plate and work your way toward the center of your place setting.
If you see the host or hostess doing something different, you may follow his or her lead. The important thing is to remain as inconspicuous as possible. You don't want to call negative attention to yourself.
For dinners where food is served at the table, the dishes should be passed in a counter-clockwise flow. Never reach across the table for anything. Instead, ask that condiments be passed from the person closest to the item. Salt and pepper should be passed together. Always use serving utensils and not your own to lift food from the serving dish.
Table manners were designed to keep people from scarfing food down like animals, so learn them before you eat with others. One of the most important things to keep in mind is that you should never call attention to yourself by blatantly breaking the rules set by society.
Here are some essential dining etiquette rules that you should follow:
- Turn off your cell phone before sitting down. It is rude to talk on your phone or text while in the company of others.
- Never talk when you have food in your mouth. That’s just gross. Even if someone asks you a question, wait until you swallow before answering.
- Taste your food before you add salt, pepper, or other seasoning. Doing otherwise may be insulting to the host or hostess. If you are dining with a prospective employer, the person may perceive you as someone who acts without knowing the facts.
- Don’t cut all your food before you begin eating. Cut one or two bites at a time.
- Never blow on your food. If it is hot, wait a few minutes for it to cool off. Scoop your soup away from you.
- Some foods are meant to be eaten with your fingers. Follow the lead of the host or hostess.
- If you are drinking from a stemmed glass, hold it by the stem.
- Break your bread into bite-sized pieces and butter only one bite at a time.
- Try at least one or two bites of everything on your plate, unless you are allergic to it.
- Compliment the hostess if you like the food, but don’t voice your opinion if you don’t.
- Use your utensils for eating, not gesturing.
- Keep your elbows off the table. Rest the hand you are not using in your lap.
- Eat slowly and pace yourself to finish at the same approximate time as the host or hostess. or making other rude sounds at the table.
- If you spill something at a restaurant, signal one of the servers to help. If you spill something at a private dinner party in someone’s home, pick it up and blot the spill. Offer to have it professionally cleaned if necessary.
- When you finish eating, leave your utensils on your plate or in your bowl.
- Never use a toothpick or dental floss at the table.
- You may reapply your lipstick, but don’t freshen the rest of your makeup at the table.
After the Meal
After you finish eating, partially fold your napkin and place it to the left of your plate. Wait until the host or hostess signals that the meal is over, and then you may stand. After the meal is over, don’t eat and run. If nothing is planned after dinner, stick around for approximately an hour before saying good-bye to the host and thanking him or her for the dinner. If the event is informal, you may offer to help clean up.
Always send the host or hostess a thank you note or card in the mail, and don’t wait more than a day or two after the event. Address the host or hostess, thank him or her for the lovely dinner, and add another short, positive comment to show your appreciation. Your note may be brief but heartfelt.
A dinner party is usually demanding especially if you are the host. The situation demands a lot more when it has to do with business partners, employees, and clients. It may appear stressful but the good thing is that this is a chance for you to strengthen professional relationships among the attendees. To get the best out of your business dinner party and without getting stressed, it is important you learn good tips on how to host your party.
This is an opportunity to showcase your skills of entertainment and a great way to know your colleagues in a more personal way. Here are important things to do when hosting a business dinner party at your home!
Try with family and friends
Prior to inviting your business partners over, host a party for your close relatives and friends. Should there be mistakes, they wouldn’t mind a lot and most importantly, they will tell you about them and how to fix them.
Don’t be obsessed with perfection
Should anything go otherwise, don’t be anxious. Exude calm and confident going about the business of the day. Obviously, your colleagues won’t expect to have a seven-course meal from your house. Keep it calm with a sense of humor and the mess will most certainly go unnoticed.
Work with your team members
You need some of your team members to complement your client’s personality and make contributions to the conversation. If not, you can extend your invitation to other professional networks, particularly if the introduction will be of benefit to your colleague and your client.
Make necessary preparations
It is always a prudent effort to plan in advance. Do your homework well and ask your client concerning any food allergies or restrictions on the diet that they might be having. Plan your menu based on that. Ensure you have enough glassware including coffee cups, drinking glasses, and serving platters for all guests.
Stick to the recipes you know
This is not the time to learn and try new recipes. It is important to make sure that there are no complications and that includes the dish you will be making. In any case, you should serve dishes that are known and those that will not demand a lot of attention. Be sure it is something you can prepare without much hassle.
Stock enough ingredients
Make a good grocery list. You definitely would not want to run out of important ingredients while in the process of making dinner preparations. Ensure that you pick enough items at the grocery store. Pick all the items you will need including such essentials as sugar, salt, butter, and pepper!
Clean up your guest restrooms before dinner. Other places to check include the living and dining room. These should be kept tidy and sparkling clean. Set the dinner table in advance and put the candles in their place. You could even do these preparations a day before. This will keep you calm and settled as the guests start coming.
Be ready for a grand tour
Don’t disappoint should your guests want to tour your house. This should not catch you by surprise. All you need is to make sure that every part of the house is good to see. Should there be places you consider private, shut the doors leading to such places. That will be a clear indication that it is not suitable to go there.
Get Appetizers for them
Offer variety with appetizers and limit the number of things to cook in the kitchen. Chips, crackers, cheese, dips, and nuts are good options. All these can be obtained from the grocery store.
Assortment of Beverages
It is important to have a drink station with brunch drinks. You can have white and red wine and plenty of soft drinks such as water, juice, and soda. Keep lemons, cocktail napkins, glasses, an ice bucket, limes, and olives at hand for your guests to easily serve themselves.
Impress with good music
You can make your house more inviting by choosing music that will set the right tone for the dinner. Make sure you have a party playlist for the dinner. Has your player preset already to offer music all through the evening? Again, have unscented candles in place especially around the dinner table. They are good at projecting the right mood for the occasion. Light the candles prior to your guests arriving.
Make our business dinner party at your home as fun as possible. Reduce stress by keenly observing these tips and you will reap a lot of benefits from it!
I’ve heard this statement from countless friends. When I encourage them to start something they tell me they need to have thousands of dollars saved up or a great idea. I quickly tell them that both of these things are not true.
Today, you can start a side-hustle with as little as $20 with a mediocre idea. You don’t have to have the best idea in the world to get started, simply start something and improve it as you go. I started an online store for fun and recommend it to anyone looking to get started with side-hustling.
If you’re thinking about starting a store, these three resources can help you get started.
Choose a print-on-demand supplier.
I used to make gifts for my friends and family and one day decided to put it online. To my surprise my good and bad ideas quickly started selling. It was amazing to see what people on the internet will pay for and today I’m now making a steady stream of income from my store. To fulfill orders in my store I use print-on-demand technology.
I’ve written about this technology before and I’ll continue to sing its praises until I die. Print- on-demand is an easy way to start your own store where you can print on item at a time and have it fulfilled directly to your customer. With this technology you can run your store from anywhere in the world with an internet connection and your computer.
Create mockups and designs with ease.
“But I’m not a designer” is the biggest thing stopping my friends from starting their own stores. It’s okay, I’m not a designer either. I come up with designs and then work with talented designers to make my ideas a reality.
Even if you’re not a graphic designer, you can take text based designs and put them on mockups to create dazzling products. Two tools I use are SmartMocks and PlaceIt. The Envato Marketplace also has thousands of mockups and graphics that you can purchase and use for commercial use.
Setup a storefront.
Hundreds of storefronts exist today. From Amazon to Tictail to Etsy there are so many places you can sell your products that you can get setup on in a mere matter of hours. Other out of the box e-commerce solutions like SquareSpace, Wix, WooCommerce and Shopify also exist for you to quickly setup a storefront. Using these tools you can start a business from anywhere you can fit your computer. Whether you’re in a dorm room or at home, start making your business dreams come true today.
What are you waiting for? Take the next few hours and get to work on your store. If you start now, you can have one ready by dinnertime!
Note: Some links in this post are affiliate links, which means I receive a commission if you make a purchase. Affiliate relationships include, but are not limited to, Bluehost, Amazon Associates, and StudioPress.
Every mom I know wages an age-old battle each evening. During the magical hour just before dinnertime, our children transform into crazy little beings who cry for no reason, start fights with one another, and decide the moment mommy is working with a pot of boiling water on the stove is when they MUST be picked up!
Our battle always occurs as I’m trying to cook dinner. All three kids have their moments. Right now, my youngest (3 years old) is having his. Every evening around 5 p.m. he just loses it. I’m usually starting dinner because my husband comes home around 5:45/6, and we like to eat soon after that.
That’s when my little guy starts hitting his sisters, using everything in sight as a weapon and just in general crying about everything, including the fact that I won’t pick him up while he hangs on to my leg as I drag him around the kitchen.
It’s gotten to the point that I am debating going to an all crock-pot menu so I can completely avoid this time of day! 🙂
My girls went through the same thing, but their meltdowns weren’t nearly as bad. And they didn’t usually resort to beating one another up. It was just a lot of crying.
I have been at a loss for quite some time, but then recently something came back to me that a dear friend told me years ago. I had completely forgotten about it because I hadn’t needed this advice in a while.
I started doing this thing around 5 p.m. that halts any tantrums right before they start (or halts them in progress if I’m a few minutes late).
What is this magical solution?
It’s so simple I really wish I could take credit for it, but I can’t.
Serve the fruit or vegetable portion of their dinner early.
Before you discount me as crazy, hear me out. When I first heard this advice, I thought, “I can’t do that; I’ll ruin their dinner.”
But the more I thought about it, it made sense to me. I wouldn’t be giving him an unhealthy snack that would be eaten instead of his dinner. I would be giving him a healthy part of his normal dinner. A small amount that wouldn’t fill him up, just calm him down.
My friend explained that if a child is hungry (like those Snickers commercials!), they’re not themselves and making them wait until dinnertime to eat is a good lesson to learn BUT not at the expense of your sanity.
Giving them a portion of the dinner you were already going to feed them won’t ruin their dinner. It will just change the order in which it is eaten.
All it takes is a little planning ahead, and it works like a charm. As soon as my little guy eats a few bites of his fruit, his blood sugar is restored to normal levels, and he then starts acting like a rational (as much as possible for a 3-year-old) human being who doesn’t want to wreak havoc on his sisters.
And the time needed to eat that pre-dinner serving? It usually buys me enough time to cook dinner in peace and handle all the hot ovens and boiling pots of water I want without a toddler going bonkers at my heels.
I know this trick works on all kids because I saw it with my friend’s 4 children and then with my own 3.
If you give this trick a try, let me know how it goes! Good luck!!
With the right plan, virtually anyone can earn financial freedom with just their smartphone, she says.
In this series called Member Showcase, we publish interviews with members of The Oracles. This interview is with Shannan Monson, a business strategist for female entrepreneurs. It was condensed by The Oracles.
Who are you?
Shannan Monson: I help service-based female entrepreneurs create scalable revenue. I started as a personal trainer and wellness coach before transitioning to helping women build their own businesses.
I made the shift because I saw so many passionate experts stuck in the one-to-one business model. I am obsessed with my work because I think women have really low expectations for their earning potential as a general rule. We’re not as bold about asking for more, so I help women shift their mindsets from solopreneur to CEO.
What are you more skilled at than most people in the world?
Shannan Monson: One of my favorite things to do is walk into a room and see how many people I can get to open up to me. I love making others laugh, getting them to tell me their story, and just making them feel comfortable and at home.
I remember being so excited when social media started to gain traction because I could see the potential to do this in a big way. I believe everyone just wants that sense of belonging — to feel like someone else gets you. I’ve been able to curate a really powerful online community just by giving people permission to be themselves.
What excites you the most about your business right now?
Shannan Monson: I’m really excited about how accessible entrepreneurship is for everyone right now — especially women. The opportunity to create your own business and financial freedom with just your smartphone is so attainable.
The cost of starting a business is the lowest it has ever been. It seemed like it cost millions to build a website 10 years ago, but today, you can build one for free in 10 minutes. Now you can start building an empire before dinnertime. That’s incredible and levels the playing field in so many ways. There’s never been a better time to be a woman with a vision.
What’s your favorite quote?
Shannan Monson: “You can have it all, but you can’t have it all right now.” Many people get stuck because they have so many ideas that they get lost in overwhelm, so they don’t take any action at all.
One of my favorite things to do is brain dump all the goals I want to accomplish, and then pick one to focus on at a time. This has been pivotal in helping me get where I want to go. We really can have it all, we just need to decide what we want first so we can get there.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Shannan Monson: You have so much more potential than you give yourself credit for. Your dreams aren’t too big — they’re too small. The only thing standing in your way isn’t time or money, but your own beliefs about your potential.
Take a hard look at what you really want and ask yourself: “If nothing was standing in my way, what would I do differently right now?” Then do it.
How do you define great leadership?
Shannan Monson: A great leader sees the potential in others and gives them the confidence and tools they need to live up to that potential. Leadership is really about rising together, not rising above. A good leader can spot vision and drive and mold it into a bigger purpose.
How do you evaluate a good business deal?
Shannan Monson: I always ask myself if it is going to be a win-win scenario. It’s easy to think about how a deal might benefit you, but if it’s not going to move the needle on both sides, it won’t be successful.
Which single habit gives you 80 percent of your results?
Shannan Monson: The most valuable thing I do is sit down each month and define really clear goals for myself. It’s easy to get busy and distracted by others’ to-do lists. Specific, actionable goals keep me hyper-focused on my vision and make it easy to say “no” to everything that isn’t driving toward it.
What are you working on right now?
Shannan Monson: I’m focused on growing my team so we can support more female entrepreneurs as they take their businesses to the next level. I’ve really had my head down, asking myself, “What is the magic that got us here?” so I can create systems and find people to replicate that on a bigger level.
What is the most exciting question that you spend time thinking about?
Shannan Monson: “How can I do it better next time?” Every time I finish something, I take the time to feel gratitude for the results. Then I’m jumping right back into analytical mode to ask myself how we can do it better next time. I do that in everything, from business to my relationships and life in general. I ask myself: “Is it working?” Great. “How can we make it work even better?”
Connect with Shannon on Instagram or visit her website.
When you’re the new business on the block, nothing gets the neighborhood talking like a great party. Providing the right people with the right experience when you launch could send you down the path to startup unicorn status.
Two years ago, a group of relatively unknown Icelandic app developers created a trivia game called QuizUp. They were looking to make a splash, so they hired ASTRSK, my company, to manage their PR strategy and throw them a launch party in Manhattan.
We hosted a ton of journalists, passed around loads of food and drinks and demonstrated the app. Attendees got a sneak peek of QuizUp and had the opportunity to download it before it officially hit Apple’s App Store.
The good press that ran rampant after the party contributed to the app’s rapid rise to prominence. Officially the fastest-growing iPhone game ever, NBC just announced its intention to turn the game into a television show.
Launch or pre-launch?
The first thing to decide is whether you want a VIP pre-launch party or a slightly less exclusive gathering on launch day.
For a pre-launch party, you’ll want to invite key influencers such as journalists, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and other people you consider VIPs within your space. Schedule the party a few days before your launch so journalists have enough time to write their stories and build in the best anecdotes about their experiences.
If you decide to party on the day of your launch, invite the same people but open the festivities to a select group of customers as well. If you expect more than 100 people to attend, you need a special area for the press and VIPs. Do something to make them feel appreciated.
Once you know which type of party you want to throw, here are four tips to ensure its success:
1. Location, location, location.
The party venue says a lot about your startup, so make sure it’s as weird, professional, fun or serious as your startup is. Convenience is a key factor. When planning parties in Manhattan, I know most media outlets are located in a certain area. Throwing an event near their offices greatly increases the chance they’ll attend.
2. Party on a weekday.
It goes against conventional wisdom, but your launch party should be on a Tuesday or Wednesday evening. The media and your other VIPs would rather leave their weekends open for their own personal endeavors.
Try to set the start time so attendees can arrive immediately after work. People in New York work late, so our parties typically start around 7 p.m.
3. Nail the invite.
Read articles from relevant publications, and scan social media to find the local people who you absolutely need to know about your launch party. Factor in attrition by over-inviting to ensure enough people show up.
These key figures get invited to multiple events every week, so make sure your invite is compelling. I recommend using a platform like Splash, which allows you to create sleek, fun and professional invitations. You can also password-protect them to drive home the feeling of exclusivity. Send the invite about two weeks in advance so attendees have plenty of time to work it into their schedules.
4. Wine and dine.
The last thing you want is someone leaving because there isn’t enough food or drink, which is the most common reason people duck out early. Because the party will take place around dinnertime, make sure you have plenty of food — and, ideally, an open bar to help wash down that food. I always tell my clients I’d happily sacrifice a photo booth or celebrity DJ if that meant affording an open bar. But you definitely don’t want people drinking on an empty stomach — they need to remember what happened in the morning!
For consumer-facing startups entering an already crowded marketplace, hosting a great launch party will introduce your business to key tastemakers, result in a strong media launch and give the right first impression for your company.
You have plenty to celebrate here, so party hard! But also party smart. Make sure tomorrow’s headlines are about your business, not your ice sculpture.
Elliot Tomaeno is the founder of Astrsk, a New York PR firm that works with both emerging and established technology companies. Tomaeno has worked with companies such as Squarespace, Frank & Oak, Trello, QuizUp, ClassPass, PHHHOTO, Zola and many more. Since launching in 2012, Astrsk has helped launch more than 150 startups and tech products and has been part of seven exits.
How does dinnertime look in your house? I cling to dreams of family bonding and quality time, but lately, that’s just not the reality. My youngest child, recently freed from the tethers of his high chair, is up and running from the very start. His older brother and sister are most often fighting, or if they agree, it’s because they both don’t want to eat what’s for dinner. I’ve always felt I have it good. I love to cook, and even in the chaos of the hour before dinner, making dinner relaxes me.
My kids are all healthy eaters, and they even help prepare some meals. I hold dinner as a sacred time, and I love everything about the process. I thought I was doing everything right! But lately, I just can’t keep up with the stress of dinnertime. My six-year-old’s friend was over last night for dinner and I asked him how his parents kept him at the dinner table.
“They tape my butt down,” he replied.
Alright then. At least I’m not alone.
I’ve read studies on the importance of family meals. I know how important it is to all sit down together, even for a few minutes. I’m not giving up on dinnertime. So I’ve been talking to other parents, and looking into little shifts I can make to de-stress dinnertime. Here are some tips:
1. Understand that preschoolers might not be developmentally ready to have a sit down meal.
I’ve seen in my older children that kids’ appetites and ability to engage in discussions really does increase as they get older. I’m going to work to remember that my younger two children might not be able to sit for longer than five or 10 minutes, and that’s OK. We’ll try to make the most of the time their at the table.
2. Make sure we’re eating at the right time for our family.
I’ve realized my children do best eating well before 6 p.m.. This often isn’t the best time for me or my husband to eat, as we both work full-time. It doesn’t make sense to keep the kids hungry or have a snack so soon before dinner. Sometimes, feeding young kids earlier is a better option.
3. Take care of nutritional needs before dinner.
When we do all have dinner together, I don’t want to spend the whole meal urging them to eat their vegetables. Instead, I’ll do what I can to make sure they eat good food throughout the day. The fewer food battles, the better.
4. Having a child who is a picky eater is more common than you’d think.
Picky kids don’t translate into picky adults. It’s totally normal for kids to be choosy about what they like and don’t like. I’m going to keep exposing my kids to delicious foods and let that be that. My goal is to make sure that mealtime is not a battleground.
5. Have kids bring a healthy snack to the table.
Here’s another option: Rather than eating a full meal together, have your kids join in for a post-dinner snack at the table. This way, you can still have the time together at the table. Offer yogurt or fruit at the table while you and your partner eat together.
6. Choose a quiet toy or activity to bring to the table.
This is definitely a matter of preference, and in my home, it wouldn’t be an iPhone or iPad. But some kids really benefit from having something they can focus on. Drawing can be a great option here.
7. Don’t expect great conversation at the table.
Let go of expectations, and your kids will often surprise you. Younger kids might not be ready for conversations at the table, so it can be helpful to ask direct questions that can be answered with just a few words. Try playing games where everyone says what the best part of their day was. That’s often been a good conversation starter at our table.
8. It might only last 10 minutes, but make it a good 10 minutes.
Remember that dinner is a time to be together and to bond. Keep your eyes on the prize. Try not to get into food battles or family feuds. Focus on connection.
9. Remember that quality time takes all shapes.
Let’s take some of the pressure off family dinner. Find other times in the day to connect as a family, like breakfast, a family walk, or board game.
10. Eat a grown-up meal after the kids go to bed.
I try not to make this a regular occurrence, but some times I need a quiet dinner alone with my husband. So I sit with my kids as they eat their meal, and then I know I’ve got a grown-up meal ahead. I’ve stopped trying to turn kid meals into adult ones — at least for now. This takes the pressure off and makes the night enjoyable for the whole family.
I love dialogue among parents. I would love to hear your dinnertime methods.
Business receptions are often less structured than more formal business events such as banquets or presentations. It’s expected that you’ll circulate around the room, introducing yourself to people you don’t know and making small talk. Even if you don’t know the other guests, you can make a good impression by following basic etiquette and keeping in mind that while you can be more relaxed than you would be at the office, you still need to project a professional image.
At a business reception, it’s common practice to “work the room,” networking with as many people as you can by striking up conversations, chatting briefly and then moving on. No one will think you’re rude if you make small talk with several people rather than taking the time for a lengthy conversation with one or two. When you mingle, be respectful of the other person’s time and space. If you see two people engaged in an intense conversation, move on to someone standing alone or to a group of people who seem open to newcomers. Or, search for groups where you know at least one person.
When you’re talking to people you don’t know well, which is often the case at a business reception, avoid sensitive or controversial topics like religion or politics. Save shop talk or confidential work-related information for the office, but feel free to discuss trends or current events in your industry if the other person is in the same profession as you. Also avoid any subject you’re especially passionate about, because if the other person vehemently disagrees with you, you may be setting yourself up for a heated debate instead of a lively conversation. The purpose of small talk, especially with someone you’ve just met, is to keep it simple until you find common ground. In the “Entrepreneur” article “A Small Talk Survival Guide for the Schmooze-Averse,” Daniel Menaker, author of the book “A Good Talk,” says the goal of small talk is to “make yourself conversationally available” to the other person. Even a simple “Hi, my name is…” can be a welcome way to start a conversation.
Food and Beverage
Unlike a formal sit-down dinner, business receptions usually have some combination of appetizers, buffet tables and passed trays. Handling hors d’oeuvres and beverages while also trying to move through the room and make conversation can be a complicated juggling act, so the website Etiquette Scholar recommends standing next to a table while you snack so you’ll have a place to put your plate if you want to shake hands. You can also eat before the event and skip the appetizers, and if all else fails, the Etiquette Scholar adds, you may have to substitute a nod and a smile for a handshake.
Special Considerations for Alcoholic Beverages
Many business receptions offer light alcoholic beverages, and if you decide to drink, consider ahead of time how much you can consume without it affecting your behavior and then stick to a one-drink rule, for example. If the drinks are circulated through the room by waiters, wait for one to pass by instead of seeking one out. If there’s a bar or drinks table, make sure it’s your turn to order by asking others if they were already waiting. Don’t tip the bartender unless it’s a cash bar, which Etiquette Scholar says is rare at business receptions.
It’s the most stressful time for so many moms. This makes it so much better.
You don’t need a whiteboard in your kitchen to plan meals like a business would.
As a working mother, I find dinnertime to be a royal pain in the you-know-what. Dinnertime involves … determining, deciding, picking, shopping, chopping, cooking, cleaning and arguing. It’s all so laborious. Not only is it hard on any given day, but it also has to happen every single day. Even if you nail dinner on Wednesday and everyone eats what you make, you have to muster the energy to start the whole machine all over again on Thursday. And again on Friday. It makes me tired just writing about it.
Now, when I say that “I find” dinnertime to be harder than hard, I’m not just speaking from personal experience. My entire career is built around researching the highs and lows of working mothers across the country, and I’ve seen time and time again that the number one pain point of mothers is dinnertime. Every day. And the research doesn’t lie. Dinnertime is challenging. For every mother. But I might have found something to make it a little easier.
A friend recently told me that one should run the household like it’s a business. It’s an interesting metaphor. As a general rule of thumb, at work, people are organized and buttoned up, communication lines are clear, everybody knows who is doing what and when assignments are due. Nobody walks into a meeting at work and says, “Wait a second. We’re talking about whaaaaaaaat today?” However, at home things tend to resemble more of a circus. Even when I manage to get home on time and get a healthy meal on the table, my efforts are rewarded with shock and awe almost every time. “Wait a second. We’re having whaaaaaat for dinner tonight?”
This week, out of sheer desperation, I decided to put my friend’s advice into action. I came up with two guiding principles that successful businesses follow that I vowed to start following at home when it comes to food.
1. Have a plan. Successful businesses don’t wait until the last minute to make decisions. They have plans in place, and they execute those plans, leaving little room for surprises.
2. Get some help. Great leaders don’t make decisions in a vacuum and then ram them down people’s throats. They seek input, advice and opinions from everyone on the team.
The other night, I put my plan into action. When my family showed up to the dinner table, there was a pen and a piece of paper next to everyone’s plate. The eyes started rolling immediately. I informed everyone that we were having a family meeting. Everyone’s first assignment was to write down the one thing that is most important to them when it comes to dinnertime.
The answers were as follows:
Mine: The food is healthy.
Husband’s: The meal is simple.
Daughter’s: The food tastes good.
Son’s: No fighting with my sister and try new things.
The final assignment was for us to crowdsource “five meals that everyone will eat and like” that also fit the criteria above. It was a funny exchange. Everyone lobbied to get their meal on the list. Many meals were vetoed.
In the end, we agreed on steak, pasta, pork chops, hamburgers and nachos.
Simple. Healthy. No fighting.
I have no idea how to make healthy nachos, but I’m going to make the hell out of them because it’s part of the plan. We got to determine the meals together, but I get to make them as healthy as humanly possible.
I’m excited about this plan. Like any plan, it won’t be perfect and I’ll have frozen pizza waiting in the wings. However, for the first time … I don’t feel like I’m flying blind and I don’t feel like I’m alone in this fight.
One team. One dream. One dinner at a time.
Katherine Wintsch is a working mother of two and intimately familiar with the highs and lows of trying to keep it all together. As CEO of The Mom Complex, she studies mothers around the world and helps businesses develop better products and services to meet their needs. Read Katherine’s workmom blog, In All Honesty, follow @kwintsch, or visit The Mom Complex. Also see her TEDx talk on motherhood.