Running a business from home sounds like a fantastic idea, for many reasons. You can live in your tracksuit, hang out the washing, pop out for coffee whenever you’d like, be at home when the kids arrive home from school, and look after your baby. But some of those advantages are on the list of “watch-outs” for balancing your home life with your home business. There are things you can do to optimise both your home life and your home business.
Ensure Your Expectations Meet Reality
Yes, the odd load of washing, and the odd lunch with a friend is a great perk of working from home. But running your own business, whether from home or outside the home, requires concentration, dedication and time that extends beyond the requirements of working for someone else. You aren’t going to spend your days sleeping in, cleaning and lunching with friends. If you want to run a successful business, you’ll be there, working. Along with the tasks that you enjoy, you’ll be completing very challenging tasks, and very mundane tasks. It’s wise that you enter into a home business with the knowledge that your day is not going to spent completing all the household tasks and errands that you don’t seem to have the time or flexibility to complete whilst driving to an office every day.
Get Your Family’s Support
It’s critical that your spouse and children will be prepared for the impact that it will have on them. Running a business from home is going to affect your family. It can impact them both positively and negatively. It’s terrific that working from home can allow you to dash to school for the special assembly and take meat out of the freezer for dinner. But it also requires space that the family probably currently uses. It might require after school care, even though you’re at home. You might have client meetings that run late and affect after school activities. You might need to spend several hours after dinner completing a proposal instead of watching TV. Be realistic as a family about the changes that will occur and how you can manage them.
Consider Child Care
If you’re thinking that a home business allows you to combine work with child rearing, you might find that the combination is challenging, if not impossible. Picture yourself on a call with a client and your daughters are fighting over the TV. Or you’re desperately trying to write an article and your son’s football flies through the window. Caring for your children and running a home business might not be idyllic or ideal. You may need to consider options like child care on certain days of the week, or portions of the day. Your children might still need to go to after school care, or you might need to be realistic about the number of hours that you can actually work each day. You might need to base your business plan on working part time, rather than full time.
Create a Separate Work Area
Unless you’re lucky enough to have a spare room, garage space or workshop, the space that your business consumes at home is going to take a space away from your family’s current use. It might involve something as simple as cramming more things into your study, or something as complex as combining two children in a bedroom. Where possible, however, you do need a separate area for your work. If you can’t allocate yourself a room, or the garage, perhaps a corner of your living room will suffice. You’ll need a space that you don’t have to pack away every day, allows an ergonomic set up, and allows you to finish work for the day (remember that you’re trying to create a balance).
You, your family and your friends need to respect your day as a work day and your office as a real place of business. This means the day is not seen as the opportunity for frequent personal phone calls, long lunches, unexpected visits and household chores. You need to set expectations for yourself and your loved ones that you are working, and that your first priority is focusing your attention on your business. Let family and friends know your work hours and what flexibility you have to see them.
One Thing at a Time
Aaaah, the myth of multi-tasking! The idea that we can do it all, simultaneously. It’s rarely true, and it absolutely applies to family tasks and home business tasks. You’ll struggle to do both jobs well at the same time. Establishing the physical boundaries and schedule that allows you to dedicate time and energy to each, separately, is critical. You want to be either raising children, running your house, or working, rather than trying to do all of them at the same time.