When we work for someone else – particularly in certain fields – work is work and home is home. The week-nights and weekends are open. The decisions about personal time management – or lack thereof – are ours. When we are self-employed, and want to be successful, those lines blur. Especially when our business is first getting started, in a slump or growing rapidly!
The good news is that they blur in the other direction as well. It can be easier to arrange time out of the office. We can incorporate our passions into our work in creative ways. We can become highly productive and more balanced over time.
As the owners of a consulting business, my husband and I have found a number of personal benefits:
- Non-work priorities (e.g., children, parents, hobbies, service work, health appointments) are more easily fitted into our schedules. A personal week-day event may mean working nights or weekends, but that is our choice.
- We stopped fearing the inevitable job change and geographic move. We did not want to move any more – especially with children still living at home.
- When we are sick, we can work a few hours and go back to bed.
- We can go to the gym for a workout when it is not as crowded.
- If there is a family crisis or a fun opportunity, we can take our computers and travel as needed. This was a big help when our daughter suffered a concussion while attending out-of-state college a few years ago.
- Our kids have learned a lot about business, economics and other issues related to what we do. This means we have more ways to relate as a family. Our daughter found Econ 101 a breeze in college because she had “heard it all before.”
- Our commute is very short – we work at home! This lowers expenses and saves time.
- Working together as a couple can strengthen your relationship. Yes, this is true!
- Our children always know where to find us, and we are able to touch base whenever anyone wants or needs to do so.
- We can be with our pets. Our cats keep me company most days. When our daughter visits, walking her dogs is be a great mental and physical break from my computer screen.
On the other hand:
- Sometimes we have had to miss important family events due to travel or other work commitments that we believed were too important to miss. It can be even harder to explain these priorities to those you love when it is your decision – and not that of your boss.
- We have had to consciously choose not to let work conversation dominate the family dinner. At least, not much.
- Many family vacations have been at the beach, where we rent a house at a reasonable price, and take all of our equipment: computers, printer, even the fax. For years we spent half-days working during the heat of the afternoon, before returning to the beach with the kids. More times than we can count, there have been crises that had to be handled immediately!
Think about the benefits of ownership for you and your relationships. Do you take advantage of the benefits? Do they compensate for the difficulties – if not now, in the long-term?
Until we meet again –
The Entrepreneur’s Friend