Ever heard of the tradie who quit his job, came home and announced to his wife, "I am going to work for myself! You do the books"? I get to see lots of conversations regarding family members, particularly husbands and wives, being the Executive Assistant or Business Manager for the family's Home-Based Business. As some have previously expressed, it is not always a good idea. My wife is my finance and administrator support; my son-in-law is my business manager, and so far this works out AWESOME for me. While it is not always advisable, for those in the same situation it can work! And when it does it creates common purpose and direction for all.
Here are some thoughts to help:
- Isolate the area:
It is highly recommended that you have a specific area for the business. Even if you do not have an extra room, find a suitable place to 'do business', including the simple things like dealing with incoming mail. Use an in-tray rather than dumping mail on the kitchen bench or dining room table.
Real Life Story: One of our trusted Real Estate agents tells the story of going to do a market appraisal on a home. As he walked into the kitchen there was a car engine on the kitchen table! It turns out the husband is a home mechanic and regularly used the kitchen table to pull down a motor. Extreme example, but it makes the point!
Isolate the time:
This is an obvious 'biggie'. Just because there is always something to do in business does not mean we should always be doing something. Decide on a specific time for the five areas of business: Sales and Marketing; Finance and Administration; Planning and Strategy; The Team; Procedures and Systems. Then resist the temptation to talk about business at other times just because a thought comes into your head. Also, avoid bringing business in the door with you when you arrive home.
Real Life Story: Some clients, without thinking it was an issue, would constantly be on the phone doing business as they came in the door. Often the call would continue for some time before they were able to greet their family. This was not working. Now they finish the call before walking into the home and are better at greeting the family. It makes a lot of difference to your loved ones.
Important: Have a cut-off time for business in the evening (as early as possible of course), ensuring time to wind down before sleeping and to connect with the rest of the family.
- Isolate the conversations:
This is probably one of the hardest to control, particularly if the couple are both involved in the business. The short time before the kids go to school in the morning is not the right time for business talk. One of the advantages of a home business is you do not have to travel in the morning, which means the kids can get some more attention from you. Make the most of it. This also goes for the evenings; make the most of dinnertime with the family, even if you need to go back to the home office later.
Often, one of the couple is excited and passionate about the business but the other is doing the paperwork, not because they love it but to help keep business costs down.
One client's wife does the admin' for their business during school hours. He has a habit of speaking as soon as a business thought comes to mind, regardless of the time of day. However, for example, while they are preparing dinner and attending to the kids is not the right time for him to call out, "Honey did you send that invoice to Joe Blow today?"
Other obvious times to keep business out of the conversation are during social time, like watching a movie or when out on a date night. Here is an old but great example I have shared before.
Real Life Story: Some years ago a business couple were out on a Friday night, date night. After dinner, drinks, dancing and sweets for supper they were happily driving home when the husband asked, "Did you pay the tax this morning?" Instead of ignoring his question she answered, "No." As if this had not already gone too far, he responded with, "Why not?" Yes, not only was the 'date' over but the rest of the weekend and the following week were not that great either. Think before you speak!
- Isolate the finances:
Finally, we strongly suggest separating the business from the personal finances. Have a separate bank account for the business and once you have worked out what you need from the business to cover your personal Dollar Cost Per Week (weekly costs) have that transferred out of the business account each week so that your family always feels safe that their personal needs are met first.
If you have a home-based business, take some time this week to review and consider whether your business has overtaken your home, and if so put these tips to work.
These are general comments about a home-based business and I obviously do not take into account your specific circumstances. It is very important to have trusted professionals who can help you plan your future. Check to see which professionals you already have relationships with that you can contact, or feel free to reach out to see if I can help.