When you have your family behind you, cheering you on, starting a business can be exciting, fulfilling, and a dream come true. When your family resents your business, your new business venture can be a nightmare.
When I started my first business, I designed it so that when I was ready to have kids, I would be able to work from home and raise a family. I wanted to be able to grow a business and see my kids grow up at the same time.
It hasn’t always been easy juggling my business and personal life and keeping my family from resenting my business, but I’ve made a conscious effort to balance both parts of my life. Ask anyone who works from home about being pulled in all directions, and they’ll admit it’s challenging to give your business and family 100% of your attention, all of the time.
When my kids were little, I tried to work when they were asleep and at school. I didn’t want them to have memories of growing up with a work-at-home-mom who sat in front of her computer all day. I figured out that my plan worked, sort of, when my son told his first grade class on career day that his mom didn’t do anything.
When you work from home, it’s important for your family to support your business instead of fight against you and your business efforts. Consider these five tips for including your family in your business and making them part of your team.
It’s easy to get closely tied to your business and not be able to see problems or situations objectively. If you ask your family for suggestions for how you could handle problems differently, you may be surprised at the suggestions you get. Don’t discount any suggestions from your younger children. Sometimes clients can act like children and your kids may have a few ideas for dealing with immature and unrealistic clients.
When my third book was published, my sons helped me package and mail books to people who ordered them directly from me. They helped me save time packing books, and it was a good excuse for all of us to spend time together. A friend of mine runs a stable, and during the summer her college-age kids help clean out stalls and take care of the horses when their owners are out of town. Her kids have summer jobs close to their house, my friend spends all day with her kids, and she gets the help she needs.
Your family doesn’t have to be involved in your business to the point of making phone calls for you or taking messages, but they can still be helpful. If you have ideas for expanding your business, share the ideas with your family and ask them to help you develop new ideas. Someone not involved with your business or your industry may provide you with ideas you hadn’t thought of before. Also, when your family buys into your business, which they’ll do when they see your ideas put into action, they may be more understanding during the times you need to work longer hours.
Whether you get a new client, sell dozens of books in one day, or launch a new product, make a big deal about it and celebrate. Treat your family to a special dinner, order pizza, or wear party hats. It doesn’t matter. The point is to have fun. When you make your family part of the celebration, they’ll know you appreciate them.
It’s been hard work, but for the most part I’ve been able to schedule my business around my family. My motivation? I couldn’t imagine having to go back to the corporate world and work in an outside office. I’d miss too much of my sons’ lives. Also, I’d miss the freedom and flexibility I have in my life. There’s no boss looming over my shoulder, no set hours and best of all, no commute.
Working from home has enough challenges between staying focused, wearing several hats, and meeting client needs, that there’s no need to add resentment from your family to the list. Keep your family involved in your business and everyone will enjoy watching your business grow.
What do you do to include your family in your business?