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Appliance technician sets new course in pajamas

Kelly Smith at his desk with several monitors, computer equipment.

Kelly Smith at his command center.

Appliance technician sets new course in pajamas

Tom Musbach

By Tom Musbach on March 29, 2013

In 2005 Kelly Smith set out to "fulfill the American dream" by becoming self-employed. The Montana-based home appliance technician opened a repair business, but soon the dream became a nightmare.

He didn't anticipate the administrative aspects of owning a business or an economic recession.

"The demands of bookkeeping, filing of warranties and invoices, and answering phones was stressful," he said. "That was one part of small-business ownership that I overlooked. It took its toll on my health and my quality of life."

With the downward economic spiral in 2008, Smith began to notice that most of his calls were from people asking for free technical advice. "People were having a hard time paying the rates for service calls and the high retail price of parts."

Side activity helps out

During that time Smith had started using his expertise to help customers on JustAnswer (the predecessor of JustAnswer), and his income from this activity helped keep him solvent.

"Soon my wife and I decided it was time to look at closing the business and me going back to work at a traditional job," he said. "However, there were no jobs available that would fulfill our financial requirements, and I didn?t want to have our kids alone or at daycare if my wife and I both had to work at traditional jobs."

On January 1, 2012, Smith decided to try full-time participation in JustAnswer for his primary income.

"My first month was amazing," he said, adding that the income immediately helped with overdue bills.

Unanticipated benefits for the whole family

Smith soon discovered, however, that his work on JustAnswer and now JustAnswer came with more lasting benefits.

"For the first time in several years, I was not totally stressed out! My wife was happier, as were the kids, and things were flowing well around the house," he said.

"I very quickly got into a routine and found that the freedom of choosing when I worked meant I could take time to clean the house, cook, interact with the kids and attend every school function at any time, with no schedule conflicts or interruptions. That was awesome!"

Apart from his mortgage and some medical bills, Smith said he is debt-free, with very few work expenses. The flexibility in his schedule allows him to enjoy his hobby as a ham radio operator. And he even potty-trained a rabbit that now shares his office.

He's living a new dream. "I am excited every day to 'go to work' as I head downstairs, in my pajamas, coffee cup in hand."

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