A "9-to-5 mutiny" is going on in the offices of America, proclaims secretary-turned-typing tycoon Peggy Glenn.
Frustrated by "the lack of emotional and financial strokes," she says, "secretaries by the thousands are revolting--quitting their jobs and starting their own secretarial/typing businesses at home." Glenn is the first to admit that her own success is a catalyst in this "clerical revolution."
Five years ago, the 38-year-old Californian left a $4-an-hour secretarial job to start her own home-typing service. Today she runs a company that grossed nearly $100,000 last year, largely by showing other dissatisfied secretaries how they, too, can jump the corporate ship and set sail on their own.
"I grew up expecting to get a Mrs. degree and have babies," says Glenn, who took typing and shorthand in high school "so I'd have something to do until I got married." After six years and two babies, her marriage "disintegrated," and she took a secretarial job at a university medical school to support herself and two toddlers.
"It paid just $3.10 an hour, but I was thankful to get it. I learned how to type academic papers, do editing and technical writing."
But after seven years with the same department, "I got to the point where I loved my work but hated my job. I had received only one promotion, a few meager salary raises, but always more responsibility 'because we know you're so capable.' "
Her frustration was compounded by the addition of a new husband--and two children--to her life. "Between my husband, my kids, myself and my job, I just had to have more time. I wasn't about to quit my family, so that left quitting the job.
"I sat down one day and added up all the expenses of working--carfare, wardrobe, child care, taxis to get the kids to the orthodontist. I discovered it cost me half my $500 take-home pay to work."
Slowly, "I came to the realization that I didn't need the security of being an employe. I had health insurance through my husband's job (as a fireman), and his salary would keep us from going hungry. But the money I earned made a difference in our lives, and I liked to work."
After watching several university secretaries earn extra money by typing academic papers, "the light bulb," she says, "went on over my head. Summer was coming and the college student I'd hired to be my kids' companion had quit. So I did, too."
In June 1977, Glenn scraped together $65 to rent (with option to buy) a typewriter and typing table. She bought some 3 x 5 note cards for advertisements and set up an "office" in a corner of her living room. Within three months she had paid off the $1,100 typewriter, and was operating in the black. By the end of the year she was grossing about $250 per month for about 18 hours a week of work.
"I could adopt my working hours to my husband's erratic schedule. I was free to take my kids to the beach in the day and type at night when it was cooler. I loved it."
By the fall of 1979, Glenn was earning "about $500 per month after taxes for 16 to 20 hours a week of typing," and had converted the dining room into an office. ("We ate in the breakfast nook.") Business was so good she encouraged several friends to start their own home-typing businesses to handle her overload.
"They were continually calling me with questions, so I wrote a training pamphlet. The excitement it generated convinced me that I had a marketable product."
Glenn had 1,000 copies printed and ran an ad offering them at $3.95 each in the January 1980, issue of Working Woman magazine. She sold out in six months.
"I decided to expand it into a book," she says, "and was too naive to realize you weren't supposed to self-publish. I was adamant about typing the book myself, to show skeptics that typing can produce a professional-quality product."
The revised, 105-page edition of "How to Start and Run a Successful Home Typing Business" ($16) has sold 15,000 copies. The Home Typists Network she started now has 1,100 members, and Glenn quit typing herself last year to go into publishing full time.
But "the home-typing movement," she says, "is my first love. I see home typists or free-lance secretaries as the way of the future in a lot of areas. I firmly believe that the demand will increase for skilled typists.
"Many major companies now pay well to have work done outside the firm--anything to keep from putting another person on the payroll. A free-lance professional typist is like a temporary employe without that extra fee to the temporary agency. It's a terrific option for mothers, retirees, handicapped people . . . anyone who has the drive and skills to make it work."
The biggest problem for Glenn and other home-based businesswomen, she says, is "not being taken seriously by friends and family. My kids resented it sometimes when a deadline interfered with their plans for my involvement in their social life. My husband wasn't very happy when I typed at night. And I actually got more help with the housework when I had my 'real job.' "
After two years of "struggling to be taken seriously," Glenn went on strike. "When there was no food in the house, no more clean dishes or clean clothes, they got the message. We held a family meeting where they got two choices: chip in with the housework or hire a housekeeper and contribute some of their own earnings to pay her salary. They voted for option two.
"You've got to," she stresses, "project a professional image to your clients, your neighbors, your family and yourself." CAPTION: Picture, Peggy Glenn: From $4-an-hour secretary to $100,000-a-year entrepreneur. By Milbert Orlando Brown