The home has grown to be the focus of work and recreation. With the advent of better technology, more and more people are setting up shops in their houses. No more long commutes to work, no more office politics to bear, and best of all, no more bosses!
But perhaps, the greatest attraction for this growing trend is that a home business allows for family togetherness. The word “together” turns up frequently in conversations with home-based businesspersons.
A home business allows the family to be united for a shared purpose and to work together to develop the business. Home employment also provides working parent the opportunity to spend more time with the family. In many instances, home-based businesses are even strengthening family relationships by enabling the whole family to get involved. Instead of going in separate directions, more and more husbands and wives are pooling their energies and working toward a common goal. At the same time, children have an opportunity to see what their parents do for a living, and to learn about business firsthand.
However, those who seek the benefit of being close to family find themselves in a dismaying dilemma. As they are starting their business, they must work harder; and by focusing more on work, they discover themselves devoting lesser time for their families. Even while working at home, they still suffer from the same time famine that afflicted them in the corporate world. Since their hard work is presumably for the gain of the entire family, they expect their family members to understand and allow them the space and freedom to work.
As a result, a home business can pose the risk of creating conflicts within your family. If your only activity is your business, it is likely that your family and social life will suffer. Some people even get divorced because of problems resulting directly from pressures of starting and operating a business. Some are able to successfully juggle their responsibilities, while others let the stress of the business take over their lives.
Problems with family and friends can spell disaster for your business. It is important to generate family support for your home office because this support will make your adjustment easier and your work arrangement more pleasant. You need to find your own balance, which in turn will depend on your particularly circumstances as well as your learning style.
To avoid potential conflicts, ask yourself at the very start – would a home-based business allow you to balance work and family obligation? Can you expect your family to be supportive?
You will need the support of your friends and family and you may not get that support if you alienate everyone by not being sociable or not making time for them. By your very entrepreneurial nature, you are driven to success. But if you’re not careful, and by your actions you lose those individuals who give real meaning to your life, you’ll find your business success very hollow indeed. You need to determine the boundaries of each role in your life – a businessperson, mom or dad, husband or wife.
Here are suggestions for ensuring a successful marriage between your business and home life.
1. Clearly identify your priorities, but also strive to stay balanced lest you lose family and friends.
Educate your family about your home business – what it takes to succeed and the causes of failure, what it will require from you and each of them. Nonetheless, be sensitive to the needs of your family and other people around you. Investigate the source of your family’s concern, and work with them to allay their fears. Don’t let the good times pass you by.
2. Maintain a separate work area in your home for business activities.
It is best to use your home office only for business activities. For tax purposes, the IRS requires that you use the place of work “exclusively and regularly” for business in order to claim the home office deduction.
However, it is important to think about the needs of your family, as well as the growth prospects of the business. If you are selling online, your inventory may require more space than your home office is capable of storing. As the business also grow, more space may be required.
3. Take time to spend quality moments with your spouse and your children.
It is important to maintain regular work hours, making sure that you leave enough time for your family. However, balancing your time between work and family may not be easy particularly during the start-up phase. Learn to distinguish the importance of a particular task and schedule the appropriate time for it. Set aside regular time for family activities.
4. Take time to relax, either through keeping your hobbies or even taking a break to watch television.
Keep your weekends free to spend time with your family. Plan family outings, go to the movies together, or go to the park. Without this relief, you are likely to burnout long before you attain the success you want. Get away from your work. Taking a physical and mental break allows you to look at your business more strategically.
5. Stay involved in activities other than your business to the extent possible.
Keep your lifestyle active. Working out is a wonderful way to reduce tension and clear your mind.
6. Maintain separate bank accounts between your business and your family.
It is best to keep your bank accounts for business and personal use separate. This will allow for an better bookkeeping system, making it easier for you to keep track of your cashflow, your expenses and income coming in. It is also easier to see whether you are making any money (or not).
7. Go out and socialize.
Whether with friends, family or your spouse, take a break from work and socialize with other people — and make sure that you talk of things other than business. The isolation of working solo in a home-based business may prove a bit much for some people, especially if you are the social type.
8. Keep your spouse involved, or at least, informed of your business activities.
If you have tasks where your children can help out, let them do it if they want to. It helps for children to take pride from your business, and can teach your children the importance of working for compensation. Having a stake in your home business can teach your family members cooperation, work ethic and financial responsibility through the shared efforts and shared rewards.