5 Ways to Keep Your Family From Resenting Your Business

include family in home business

When you have a built-in pep squad — your family — cheering you on and reassuring you that you made the right decision to give up a guaranteed income and amazing health care benefits, starting a business can be exciting, fulfilling, and a dream come true. When your family resents your business, your new business venture can become a horrible nightmare.

When my kids were little, I tried to work when they were asleep and at school. I realized my plan worked (sort of) when my older son came home from career day in first grade. Like a sportscaster announcing the game-winning touchdown, my son described his dad’s job in detail, and then he told the class that his mom didn’t do anything. Nothing at all. I felt frustrated while the president of the PTA felt it was her duty to ask me to chair a few committees considering all the free time she assumed I had.

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.

1. Ask for opinions.

It’s easy to get so closely tied to your business that you stop being objective. If you ask your family for ways you could handle problems differently, you may be surprised at the suggestions you get. Don’t discount anything your younger children say, at least not as it relates to your business. Sometimes clients act exactly like children and your younger kids may have a few ideas for dealing with immature and unrealistic clients.

2. Put your family to work.

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 they’re so worn out at the end of the day, they’re too tired to go out and cause trouble.

 3. Unplug often.

Deadlines and demanding clients can make it nearly impossible to spend time with your family during the day or evening. During the times you are with your family, including meals, put your phone away and focus on everyone around you. Checking email, answering texts and scanning Facebook sends a clear message that anyone around you isn’t important and doesn’t matter. If you can’t remember exactly what everyone in your family looks like, you’re spending too much time in front of a screen.

4. Celebrate successes together.

Whether you get a new client, finish a proposal you’ve been working on for weeks, or launch a new product, make a big deal about it and celebrate with your family. The point is to have fun. When you make your family part of the celebration, they’ll know you appreciate them.

5. Let the alternative motivate you.

For the most part I’ve been able to schedule my business around my family. My motivation? Knowing that I couldn’t go back to working in a corporate 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.

 

5 Ways to Turn a Bad Day Around

Home office happy dance

You know those days when everything clicks and you can’t believe how amazing you are? You replay the highlights of the day in your head like you’re the star in the epic movie about your life, you tell yourself that you can accomplish anything, and you even do the happy dance.

You are awesome!

But what about the off days when everything you do fails miserably?

Maybe your sure-fire proposal that works every time, bombed with a new client. Or on the day you decide to tackle the 100-plus tasks on your list, all you have to show for your efforts is a funny e-mail you wrote to a friend. Or while you’re uploading your latest YouTube video, you accidentally delete your other videos that have a decent following.

When you work from home you have to be your #1 cheerleader. Who else is going to give you a pat on the back, tell you everything is going to be OK and give you an afternoon, or the whole week off with no questions asked?

I did an informal survey of my clients, colleagues and friends to find out what they do instead of throwing in the home office towel and letting their mistakes or lack of motivation ruin their day. Even the people who always seem to have good days, no matter what, were quick to offer a few solutions.

Talk with a friend.

Misery loves company and if your best friend who lives across the country can’t meet you for coffee, virtual venting on Skype or FaceTime will work too. Only a good friend can take one look at you and know exactly what you need to go from feeling bad to being a badass.

Grab your laptop and head to your local coffee shop or bookstore.

You don’t have to make new friends or talk to anyone but by surrounding yourself with others, you’re less likely to focus on your bad day. You may even see someone who is having a worse day than you. Not that that should make you feel better, but be honest…it sort of will.

Take a walk…a long walk.

You can brave the snow, head to the mall, or hit the gym. When you get your adrenaline going and feel your endorphins kick in, you’ll be ready to handle anything. Or if you still haven’t been able to break your bad mood after you’ve broken a sweat, grab some comfort food. You shouldn’t feel too bad because you’ve just burned a few calories.

Catch a movie.

Join your corporate counterparts who, like you, are supposed to be working but are at a movie instead. They’re easy to spot. Look for anyone in a suit or business clothes who is as worried as a student skipping school that the person in charge will find out he’s at a movie in the morning. Of course I never did that when I was a corporate employee. I went to movies in the afternoon.

Learn something to help you grow your business.

Search any topic you’ve wanted to learn more about. Whether it’s marketing your business, improving your blog or attracting more clients, the Internet is filled with an endless selection of videos, e-books and webinars. If you can pick up a few tips from any of those sources, you can apply them right away and you’ll have a better chance of changing the way your day is going.

Do something that makes you laugh.

Watch funny videos on YouTube, check out Funny or Die, or look out your window and maybe you’ll see someone dressed in shorts and black dress socks. How can you stop yourself from laughing at that? Normally I’d say that only works in the summer but I saw my neighbor wearing that exact outfit this morning.

Not every day is going to go smoothly. But knowing that the next Happy Dance is just a day or two away can make an awful day a bit more bearable.

 

The Straight Poop About Working From Home

Straight poop working from home

I have a confession to make.

Actually, it’s a little embarrassing.

For years I’ve droned carried on about the benefits of working from home including no annoying boss, no complaining co-workers and no stress-filled commute. But I’ve missed the biggest benefit of all: the ability to poop in peace.

The Fast Company post How The Most Successful People Poop At Work opened my eyes and made me realize that while I’m leisurely taking care of business (and I don’t mean at my desk), my corporate counterparts are timing their #2’s so they can be alone on the throne if only for a few minutes.

The author of the article described how she had to quit one of her jobs because of her “professional and digestive problems.” How do you tell your boss that you’re basing your career on your bowels? Maybe you go with a simple “I need a less challenging position” or “I can’t make the necessary contributions at work” or tell the truth: “I need to go before the shit hits the fan.”

I’m disappointed in myself that I missed the number one benefit — the poop de résistance — that makes working from home sweet home so sweet. This new awareness of yet another corporate hurdle has made me take a huge step back, caused me to rethink what’s truly important, and inspired me to hug my toilet like a bride-to-be after an all-night bachelorette party.

I’m no longer taking for granted my privilege of pooping in private while my corporate colleagues are postponing potty breaks, scheduling their poops, and changing weekly meetings to fit their bathroom habits.

Maybe all of this dookie drama inspired one of my favorite commercials that takes potty humor to a whole new level.

You never know what goes on behind closed doors.

A Know-It-All Doesn’t Know Everything

Know-it-all

Last weekend at a BBQ (and by BBQ I mean an outdoor party where everyone was sweating) there was a woman I hoped I would never see again. I tried to avoid eye contact with her and pretend I didn’t see her (don’t judge), but near the end of the party I looked to my left and there she was.

Crap! I had to talk to her.

I never rarely avoid people, but this woman is like a walking “Cool Facts” app that you wish you hadn’t downloaded. No matter what the topic, from marriage, to kids, to why the Botox she uses is better than what others use (seriously?), she has to share her opinion.

You probably know someone like that. We all do. Those are the friends you take a little longer to answer when they call or text. They’re the ones who are so exhausting you have to refer to your list of excuses to avoid getting together with them. (Am I the only one with a list like that?)

As I drove home from the party I thought about everything this know-it-all woman is missing by having to be right all of the time. These are the top three that came to mind:

1. Good resources.

Web sites, news outlets and blogs are filled with valuable resources to help grow a business, improve relationships and prove that we’re better parents than we think we are. A know-it-all doesn’t want to read or hear about anything that can teach her more than she already knows (or thinks she knows).

2. New opportunities.

Whether it’s meeting a new circle of friends, attending a business seminar or partnering with another business owner, a know-it-all is stubborn and won’t do anything differently. They don’t realize that by closing themselves off to new opportunities, they’re getting in their own way of success.

3. Relationships and business contacts.

A know-it-all is more comfortable staying in touch with a small group of business owners whose businesses haven’t grown in years. These are the business owners who think social media is a fad that will go away sometime soon. Instead of aligning herself with other business owners who could help her expand her business and explore new markets, she stays stuck in the past. She’s the flip phone user in a sea of smartphones.

When you focus on learning new things, listen to others, and expose yourself to new ways of doing business, it’s amazing how much you can grow, both personally and professionally.

Unfortunately, not everyone knows that.

You CAN Share a Home Office Without Plotting a Murder

I admire couples that can work from home together and not strangle each other by the end of the day. It’s not that I’m unreasonable, bitchy or territorial (at least not all of the time), but there’s no way I could stand to share a home office with my spouse.

Period.

Part of the reason I have issues with needing my own space is that I have four siblings. As the middle child, I never had my own room. Either my older sister or my younger, annoying sister (who is now my best friend), was my roommate. We had to share everything.

I envied my friend down the street who was an only child. Her main complaint was that she was bored most of the time. She didn’t get any sympathy from me.

So it’s no wonder that I demand my own workspace, insist that no one touch my supplies (I’ve been told I have office supply issues), and crave as much privacy as possible. I like to work alone.

The other reason I couldn’t work with my significant other is that too much of a good thing can be bad. Think about it: you may adore your wife, husband, boyfriend, girlfriend, but if you spend every day and night with him or her, you may drain the fun out of your business and your relationship. Trust me, those cute little habits that first attracted you to him or her will be the same habits that make you want to plot a file cabinet “accident.”

If you’re still willing to work with your spouse (don’t say I didn’t give you plenty of warning), there are a few ways to keep the peace so no one considers hiring a hit man by the end of the day.

Buy duplicate supplies.

No one likes to reach for a stapler and realize it’s on someone else’s desk or in another room. Get creative and buy two sets of office supplies in different colors: one for each of you. While you’re buying extra supplies for your spouse, pick up more sets for the rest of your family.

Don’t share a computer. Ever.

There’s nothing wrong with cutting costs, but sharing a computer will cost you more than money. It will affect your working relationship, put your patience to the test, and, more importantly, destroy your productivity. Whether you use a desktop and your spouse uses a laptop, each of you should have your own device. Sharing a printer shouldn’t be an issue, but if you print more than anyone else in the family, pick up extra cartridges so there’s always a replacement cartridge when someone other than you has a last minute deadline.

Leave the room when you need to take a call.

Unless you can talk quietly and not bother your spouse while he or she is in the office (which I don’t think is humanly possible for anyone), leave the room during a call. Another option is to use a headset. It’s a good idea to leave your desk throughout the day anyway, so why not leave during a call?

Use separate workspaces.

Whether you use two desks, or install a long counter with enough room for two chairs, keep your workspaces separate. This is especially true if you have two different working styles. Someone who is a packrat will drive a perfectionist crazy with piles of paper, cups of coffee and the leftovers from his or her last snack. The perfectionist will do the same thing by complaining about the mess and throwing things away without asking.

Compromise on the temperature.

You may like the office to be as cold as a meat locker, but not everyone likes to wear three sweaters, a hat, and gloves to work. Consider using a fan for your side of the room and keep the thermostat above the freeze-your-ass-off temperature.

Working with a spouse can be the perfect arrangement for some couples and a recipe for disaster for others. I’m a firm believer in everyone working together, but not always in the same space.

How to Treat Yourself As Well As You Treat Your Clients

take care of yourself

Most of us do what we can to keep our clients happy, yet we forget about our own needs. Today as you get ready to tackle your to-do list, consider these four ways to make sure you’re taking care of yourself.

1. Pace yourself.

Realize your limitations and stop working when you’ve accomplished the goals you’ve set for the day. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying your business (that’s one of the goals of working for yourself, isn’t it?), but too much of a good thing can be harmful and ultimately lead to burnout.

2. Schedule time with your family.

Whether you plan a four-day getaway, or agree to a two-day staycation, turn off your business and tune into your family. Sure, you may need to answer a few e-mails (emphasis on the word “few”), but the goal is to focus your time and energy on your family. After your getaway, don’t be surprised if you feel recharged and your family feels that they’ve reconnected with you.

3. Take time to learn more.

Whether you virtually attend online webinars, travel to live seminars, or take evening classes, make an effort to keep up with the changes in your industry. Set up a Google Alert to make sure you don’t miss the latest article or blog post about your field.

4. Create a balance between your business needs and your personal needs.

If you travel often for business, but enjoy working out, schedule a time on your calendar to exercise. Treat the appointment the same way you would an appointment with a client and keep it. Schedule time to get together with the group of friends you used to meet for lunch or dinner, but had to put off for business. When you wait for the opportune time to do something for yourself, it rarely happens. You have to schedule it.

The next time you do something for a client, take a few minutes to do something for yourself. Go ahead…you deserve it.

35 Habits to Help Entrepreneurs Stay Productive

Being productive is tough, especially around the holidays. There are some people, though, who manage to power through their to-do list no matter what. This infographic from Entrepreneur.com shares 35 habits of productive people. Think about how much more you could accomplish each day if you adopted only a few of these habits.

35 habits to stay productive

Source: Entrepreneur.com

Getting Work Done At Home, Even During the Holidays

Guest Post by Angelo DiGangiWorking from home during holidays

The holidays offer a special challenge to those who work from home. Family members don’t always understand that freelancers or small business owners can’t necessarily take the holidays off the way those who work nine-to-five in an office are generally able do. Here are some tips to help you organize your home life in a way that will enable you to get things accomplished, even during the holiday season.

1. Make sure to have a distinct work space.

One key step towards maintaining a strong focus is having a clear delineation between your professional and home life. That means setting a space aside for work and nothing else. Even if you don’t have the funds or square footage for your own home office, you can still create a dedicated area that you use just for professional activities. Of course this should be a part of the house that other people use as little as possible.

2. Make sure your work space looks professional.

When working from home, it is easy to get in the habit of working on your laptop on the couch in front of the television. Having a professional-looking work space instead will help set the right mood and encourage you to get things done. Make sure you have an actual computer desk and an organized-looking workspace, with a filing system for your papers and records. Using appropriate furniture, especially a good office chair, will also help ensure that you don’t get carpal tunnel syndrome or other repetitive motion related injuries.

3. Make sure to have a distinct work time.

Setting a specific time of day to get work done can help you hold yourself accountable. In addition, it can make it easier for you to schedule other times to do activities with your family and any guests you have in town, so that they don’t feel neglected. You can all plan on enjoying dinner together, for example, then while everyone else goes to a movie, you can go home and take care of whatever business is at hand.

4. Take steps to eliminate distractions.

One of the biggest barriers to getting work done at home is the constant availability of distractions. Once you’ve figured out where and when you’re going to work, try to free the surrounding space of distractions. Keep your desk free of personal papers. Put holiday catalogs and gift to-do lists out of your line of vision. In particular, unless you need the Internet for a project, consider using programs that allow you to turn off the Internet for a few hours to ensure that you use this work time as efficiently as possible.

Angelo DiGangi has been helping customers as a Home Depot store associate in the Chicago area since 1994. Angelo provides advice on home offices for Home Depot’s Home Decorators website. He provides DIY tips on using room dividers, bookcases and other furniture to accent home offices, and separate these areas from the rest of the home.

You Can Still Be the Boss Without Being a Jerk

boss is a jerkYesterday was National Boss Day. While my corporate counterparts may have been sucking up to a boss, I was thinking about ways to thank myself, the boss, for my hard work and dedication to my business.

I’ve come a long way from when I worked for a jerk. This awful boss demanded long work hours, rarely took breaks, and scheduled deadlines that were impossible to meet. She was annoying, a perfectionist, and impossible to please.

The horrible boss I worked for, was me.

When I reminded myself that I left the corporate world to get away from the exact type of boss I had become, I gave myself a break, gave up my awful boss habits, and finally enjoyed working for myself.

If you’re ready to work for a boss who is understanding, reasonable, and respectful of your time and talents, there are a few simple changes you can make.

Limit the number of hours you work each day.

When your commute is only seconds away, it’s easy to go to work early and stay late. Think back to the last time you walked into your home office to work on something for an hour, and then three hours later you were still working. The key is knowing when to stop working and when to start enjoying your personal life.

Keep your to-do list reasonable.

Keep in mind that you can’t do everything. Instead of making a long list of tasks to finish in one day, figure out which tasks you can move to another day or even another week. A long to-do list is overwhelming and can keep you from starting even one task.

Schedule at least one mini-vacation each year.

When you worked for someone else, scheduling two weeks off was easy. When you work for yourself, finding time to take two days off may seem impossible. Make a point to get away from your home office so you can recharge and reconnect with your family. You don’t have to leave town…just leave your home office.

Limit your weekend hours.

Depending on what type of business you own, and whether or not you can avoid it, limit your weekend hours. Some clients may only be able to meet with you on Saturday or Sunday, so it’s important to be flexible. Other than that, schedule all other appointments during the week. (Note to real estate agents: ignore that last suggestion.)

Establish rewards for completing difficult tasks and accomplishing major milestones.

A reward doesn’t have to be expensive or elaborate. A walk around the block or going out for a cup of coffee can serve as a motivator to get the job done. Even taking time off to shop online, watch the latest trending video, or read a book you downloaded months ago can be as good as a pat on the back.

Don’t expect perfection all of the time.

Before you retype an e-mail for the third time, or make another change on a proposal, ask yourself why. Perfectionism is a dangerous trap. Before you know it, your standards become outrageously and unreasonably high. Find a balance between what is acceptable and what could hurt your credibility.

When you work for the boss from hell, and the boss isn’t you, you can quit and do your best to find another job. But when you’re the boss from hell, you can continue to make yourself miserable, or take steps to improve your working relationship with yourself.