Small Business Marketing by Jillian Shaw Marketing, Advertising & Public Relations for the Small Business

Ten Tips on Keeping Family First, Business Second

03.23.2010 · Posted in Family, Life, Time Management

Small Business Owner Balance Family Work

When you have a small business to run, it’s easy to get wrapped up in work.  9 to 5 is 24-7 for you.  If you are young and energetic, you’re in a great spot.  But if you have a family, you have relationships and responsibilities that really do come first.

It’s important to make sure you don’t slight your family in pursuit of your dream business.  If you’re still working a full-time job to make ends meet, that makes it even harder.  So how do you make sure you’re putting family first?

  1. Put them on your to-do list. Going to the park, doing storytime, picking kids up from school, date nights, etc.  Make sure you’re doing your share of the ‘work’ in your relationships – and make sure you’re enjoying it.
  2. Schedule them in. Make dates with your spouse and your children.  Make it special one-on-one time.  Your clients shouldn’t be the only people you take out to lunch.
  3. Always be home for dinner. The kids can have a snack and wait an hour if you have to be late, but you need to be there for at least one family meal.  If you want to get really ambitious, try to eat breakfast together too.  Mealtimes are when families talk to each other.  Let go of whatever is at the office and listen to your spouse and kids first.  Respond to them.  Offer advice.  Talk about them, not you or the business.
  4. Don’t check email or voicemail from home. Just don’t.  It’s so annoying to those around you.  You may have to sit down and work on paperwork or other tasks that you started during the day, and that’s fine.  But checking email inevitably leads to new work that is better left for the morning.  So leave it.
  5. Keep the TV off. This makes your family time higher quality.  Whatever you do instead will create more communication and interaction than anything with the TV on.  Sure, it ‘counts’ as spending time if you watch a movie together or something, but make it special if you do.  Make popcorn and encourage talking about the movie.
  6. Call your kids. If they get home at 3pm, schedule a 3:30 phone call home to talk to one special person about something specific.  Look out for opportunities for communication.  If your daughter mentions a math test she’s stressed about on Thursday, call her Thursday afternoon and ask how it went.  And always include positive reinforcement (“you’re so smart, I’m sure you aced it.”) and don’t ever forget to say “I love you.” Ever.
  7. Call your spouse. If you know your spouse had a big lunch meeting, call him/her in the afternoon and ask about it.  If you have a spouse that stays at home, keep up on the important things going on at home – baby’s doctor’s  visit today?  PTA meeting tonight?  Stay educated on your family members just as you would your industry.
  8. Blend business and family when appropriate. My favorite example:  My husband (a banker) read the Wall Street Journal to my belly before our babies were born (unborn babies can hear stuff outside the womb around 18 weeks gestation).  He also read general business management type books that we both enjoyed.
  9. Go to Church together. This is an important activity for you to do as a whole family.  Sure, sometimes it’s easier for each person to fit it into their schedule, but harder on your relationships in the long run.  If you have a multi-religion home, attend both services together.  And it should be noted here that even though the title of this post says “family first,” your faith really goes in that position.  It is what holds a family together when things are rough.
  10. Plan mini-vacations. I don’t know about you, but I never feel like there are a whole two weeks in the year that I could disappear from my business and have it not fall to pieces.  Yet.  But time away with family is a key to warding off burn-out – a serious small business killer.  I’ve found that taking a Monday and/or Friday off and planning an affordable trip to a nearby destination is a great way to rejuvenate.  And don’t take your electronic devices.  You have permission to go in extra early the day you return to catch up on what you missed.
Jillian's Currently Reading: Guerrilla Marketing, 4th edition: Easy and Inexpensive Strategies for Making Big Profits from Your Small Business
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