Unlike the days when he managed sales and technical training for 3Com Corp., a marketer of computer networking products, Mr. Mrsich isn't getting in his car at 8 a.m. to start the stressful 45-minute ride to Silicon Valley.
Instead, he's in his Redwood City, Calif., kitchen pouring a cup of coffee. Dressed in jeans and a flannel shirt, he takes his mug and the headset of his portable phone to his ultra-tech home office in an extra bedroom of his home.
"I literally put the phone on the desk beside me every morning," Mr. Mrsich says. "It's just part of the morning ritual. I think it's important for anyone who works at home to have a routine because it jump starts your day."
In his 12-foot by 12-foot office, sunlight pours in through several windows and a glass door. Sitting down, he listens to his phone messages and turns on the Macintosh Quadra 840AV that is the electronic brain of his 18-month-old company.
Between 9 and 10 a.m., he initiates and returns several calls to clients and subcontractors regarding the sales guides, presentations and training courses he's producing.
For the next two hours he works at the Quadra, developing the outline for a sales guide. Shortly after noon, he switches gears to finish and fax a proposal to a client.
By 1 p.m., Mr. Mrsich is ravenous. After a fruitless search of his refrigerator for leftovers, he cooks two hot dogs on his outdoor grill. Eating them and a handful of potato chips and drinking a Diet Coke at the dining room table, he finishes reading the San Jose Mercury News.
As he loads the dishwasher, Federal Express arrives to pick up a malfunctioning video board for return to the manufacturer. "One thing people in corporations tend to overlook is the tremendous importance of technical support," Mr. Mrsich says. Since most people working on their own don't have spare systems, the repair time is "downtime for your business."
The video board problem has dragged on for five months, he adds.
Mr. Mrsich returns to his desk at 1:40 p.m. After another round of phone calls, he continues work on the outline while the household's black cat, Isadora, looks on. The only interruptions are fax and modem transmissions from subcontractors.
When the phone rings at 4 p.m., Mr. Mrsich walks with his portable phone out the office door to the back deck, past the built-in hot tub and down the stairs to the herb garden and fruit trees in his backyard. Wind chimes murmur in the background.
"I love my office setup. I can walk outside on a sunny day, and California has nine months of those. And I'm friends with my subcontractors," Mr. Mrsich says.
Back in the office a few minutes later, the phone rings again. This time it's Mr. Mrsich's domestic partner. They discuss plans for a weekend trip to California's wine country.
"There have been times since I have started High Techniques when I have worked every weekend for weeks in a row, or slept three hours a night. But I didn't start this business to work 365 days a year," he com ments.
Mr. Mrsich adds that he nearly matched his former 3Com salary in his first year of self-employment. His goals this year are to boost his business's volume and use more subcontractors.
At 5 p.m., he receives a call from one of his training subcontractors, and that's followed by a visit from a client with materials for a sales guide Mr. Mrsich is helping her prepare.
When the client leaves, he examines the materials she brought. Finding dis crepancies in some copy, he calls her at home.
The problem resolved, he logs on to America Online at 6:45 p.m. to check his e-mail. Mr. Mrsich subscribed to the service in response to a free trial promotion and realized its features, which include a gateway to the Internet electronic network, met his information needs.
Shortly after he logs on, his monitor fails. After several failed attempts to log on, Mr. Mrsich spends the next two hours installing antiviral software on the Quadra.
The possibility of hardware trouble and the need for local support, Mr. Mrsich says, are the reasons he buys most hardware from retailers. He does buy software via direct mail, however, because it's typically less expensive, and the telephone support is identical.
At 9:50 p.m., Mr. Mrsich, turns off the Quadra and washes his hands for dinner. "This was a heavy day," he says. "But deadlines are deadlines."