Many American entrepreneurs are launching and running their businesses from home. For some owners, they see this as an opportunity to spend more time with their children. While it may seem convenient and efficient to build a business from home -- it has challenges.
Work-life balance is an absolute necessity for home based entrepreneurs to get the job done well. Kids have bad days, and to be honest, so do clients, with last minute changes and deadlines. Staying on top of things doesn't require superhuman skill, but it takes effort.
After speaking with several entrepreneurs, working in various industries, I found these critical keys to their successes.
1. Design your schedule to minimize disruptions.
By far, all of the business owners I spoke with emphasized how important it is to have a schedule. It can be easy to miss appointments and double book when an entrepreneur has to manage professional and family obligations. Whether it's using an online calendar on the phone or going old school with a wall calenar for easy access, seeing your workload allows you to parse out your time accordingly to meet deadlines and maintain quality work.
Toni Husbands, founder of Debt Free Divas and a freelance writer, told me one of her biggest challenges is making sure her kids are supervised as they are still young. She's created a schedule around them to keep her on task for projects. She's up around 6 a.m. to begin work while her kids are still sleeping.
"When I don't get started in the morning, my entire day is thrown off, because I'm not productive when my children are awake. So taking advantage of the time blocks that I have to focus on work is crucial. "
She uses these chunks of time to research and write content, schedule social media posts and catch up on any outstanding items. Since her oldest child is in pre-school part-time, she makes the most of this limited window by scheduling client meetings, podcast interviews and completing assignments based on deadlines.
Tai McNeely, co-founder of His and Her Money, also schedules her work around her kids during the day. Once her children are in bed, she polishes off business matters such as interviews later that night.
2. Lighten and share your load.
The idea that you can do it all is a myth -- especially for parents who work from home. Delegating and outsourcing certain tasks are essential to success. As her business grew and expanded, Liz Pearce, owner of Gluten Free Galley, hired and trained her husband to assist with baking and deliveries. Having him work alongside with her has allowed the Raleigh, NC-based business to deliver to more stores and offer new products.
Jeff Rose, Alliance Wealth Management CEO, shared that hiring virtual and office assistants gave him the needed time to focus on his core strengths instead of being bogged down with the administrative minutia.
3. Design systems to maximize productivity.
Another repeating theme with parents who successfully work from home is how important systems are to maximizing productivity.Schedules can be especially tight with kids and in some cases, unpredictable.
Jeff Rose touted how The Pomodoro Technique allowed him to work without distractions. He could efficiently tackle one necessary task in a limited amount of time. To get her husband up to speed with training, Liz created and shared documents of recipes, routines and other operating essentials through Google Drive with him.
With children, some entrepreneurs have found it beneficial to get them on a routine. Having activities planned helped for when they had to take calls for business or handle a quick client emergency.
4. Take time away from kids.
Just because a business is based out of the house doesn't mean everything is conducted there. Parents who work from home realize that balance can mean hiring an occasional sitter, signing up the kids in part-time daycare or having a family member watch them from time to time.
5. Roll with the punches.
Of course, there are times when work and family don't go as smoothly as expected. While it is common to rehash mistakes, entrepreneurs seeking to grow use those opportunities to refine their systems. As Tai McNeely puts it, "My advice to new work-at-home parents would be to give yourself grace."
Working from home with kids can be overwhelming periodically, but all agree its an opportunity they didn't want to pass up.