Family Owned Business: Balancing Priorites
In family owned businesses there are many important aspects to consider. One such important aspect is balancing your family and your business.
There are many important aspects to consider when you decide to work from home or become an entrepreneur. One such important aspect is balancing your family affairs. Remember that your ultimate decision will affect other people besides yourself. You need to set your priorities by asking yourself: What is most important in my life? My Spouse? My Kids? My Car? My Finances? My Health? The answer given would be based on individual priorities and circumstances, but in most cases, your spouse would be the first person affected, if you have a spouse. If you live in a two-career-income-family and both incomes are needed to support your lifestyles, I would suggest that you have a discussion with your spouse first, a serious discussion.
You may want to start you business part-time, to see whether it is something that you would enjoy doing full-time. You could approach your spouse with this idea first and let him/her know that this is just a test to see if you can turn it into a full-time business.
Let him/her know that starting a business is a strong desire of yours and you are thinking about starting on a part-time basis and you would like their support. Make sure you give your spouse the opportunity to voice his/her feelings about what they think about this and how he/she would be affected.
Try to work out any differences that you may have and try to be the person in this relationship who compromises. Think about how you would feel, were you the other person and leave room for open discussions, honesty and suggestions from your spouse. If you get into an unresolved argument from the start, it spells trouble down the road. So be patient with your spouse. Remember that this is "Big News" to him/her.
Next, after you and your spouse have come to some agreement, have a family meeting that includes your children, if you have any. Relax and give everyone a chance to talk in the meeting. If your kids do not volunteer to speak, ask them questions. Let everyone know what your ultimate goal is and ask for his or her honest opinions. Give your spouse a chance to speak as well so that the kids will know that you have the support of your spouse.
Explain the business to everyone; why it is important to you and what you think it will mean to your family. If you walk everyone through the process of this business, they will have a good idea of who you will spend your day and it will also create a sense of "this is our family business" feeling for everyone.
Explain the change that will occur as a result of your business. Of course, since you have already discussed this with your spouse, you will only have to reassure your kids that you will be more accessible to them, but you will also need to communicate to them what you expect them to contribute. Do not pressure them and give them time to accept these changes.
Here are a few examples of basic rules to set for your kids:
1. Set certain work hours that you should not be disturbed unless by an emergency and stick to it.
2. Let them know that they should not interrupt while you are on your business phone.
3. Let them know that if they need something while you are on the phone, to write it down on a piece of paper.
4. Let everyone know that they should not use your office supplies without your approval.
Make sure you explain the reasons for your rules.
Back to your spouse
You might be surprised at the level of enthusiasm your children will show. Most kids are interested in what their parents do, especially young kids- and they want to know who it will affect their lives. At least this has been my experience.
A spouse, on the other hand, is a harder sell, but if your idea is not sold to your spouse, I would not be discouraged. I would recommend, however, to try different approaches, although you must give it time. Don't be overbearing or stubborn. If you are, then Divorce is definitely in your future. When you are finally convinced that your spouse and your kids are in agreement with you, here comes another challenge.
Keeping everyone happy
Be flexible with your time
Set your work hours around your family time, most of the time
Get your kids to help cleaning up their own rooms (if they are old enough)
Be sure to have dinner ready on time
Have special time with your spouse - this is especially important!
Have special family time
Take short weekend trips with your family
Share your business decisions and problems with your spouse
Volunteer as a chaperone once in a while at your kids school(s)
Don't spend hours on the computer while everyone is in bed-your spouse will feel that the computer and your business is more important
Go out to dinner with the family once in a while
Have FUN! - if you are not having fun in your business, it's time to quit.
It is never going to be easy but if you set your priorities from the beginning and stick to them, you are in great shape!