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.