We all know that getting a small business off the ground can be a strain on your family life. But it can be rough sitting at your desk knowing that every passing day is a wasted opportunity towards making your dreams come true. You figure you’ve spent enough time working for somebody else and making their company stronger. Now is the time to get your feet wet and set off on your own.
The only problem is that you don’t want to start a company and then realize that it’s hurting your family life. When starting a business most people will experience some sort of strain on the family dynamic, whether it be with kids and a spouse or simply friends you hold dear to your heart.
With all of these questions and concerns, how do you start your own company without letting it hurt your family life?
Start planning for financial instability
When launching a new company you and your family will have to come to terms with an inconsistent revenue stream, and at times no revenue at all. Although not seeing family members enough causes stress, financial problems are generally the back breaker in a relationship. A survey released by the SunTrust Bank showed that money is the leading cause of stress in around 35 percent of relationships. Planning is essential, and creativity is often required.
Some things to consider:
Office Space: Though it depends on your business, you probably don’t need a commercial office space at the beginning. Garages and extra rooms in your house are free and work can nicely. If you do need a professional working environment, consider cost-effective solutions like shared office space, virtual offices and drop-in offices.
Car Costs: You don’t realize how much money a car drains out of your bank account until you get rid of one. Bikes, working from home or moving within walking distance to where you need to be (schools, office, etc.) should be considered to either get rid of one car or completely eliminate them all together.
Budgeting: Use tools like Mint with a spouse or significant other. This tool forecasts what money should be spent on, while also checking to see if you follow the rules that have been set (more on that below).
Organization: Startups and new businesses have tons of expenses to keep track of, write-off and organize. Save yourself some time and frustration later by putting all receipts in one folder. Consider a tool such as Expensify.
Saving Money: Find ways to spend time with family without spending much money: Going on walks, to parks, beaches, movie nights at home, cooking meals instead of going out to eat… you get the idea.
Draw up a contract when borrowing from the family
Borrowing from family and friends can be tricky at the best of times. In a perfect world it wouldn’t even have to happen, but just about every entrepreneur knows that they’ll have to dip into their own savings or the savings’ of loved ones, potentially putting everyone at risk.
Therefore, you should treat it like you would a regular loan from a bank or investor. Just like a commercial bank or corporate investor. Friends and family members deserve to know the parameters of your financial agreement. To save money on legal fees, consider using a new tool such as Contractually to draft, share and sign contracts.
Talk to your significant other about how much money the family can invest in the company, set an expected deadline to pay the household back and consider talking about accruing interest for some motivation to succeed faster.
Make the business a family endeavor
If you’ve ever watched Shark Tank you know that family members work together all the time to start a business. Sometimes it’s not possible if you need someone bringing in actual cash for the business to work. However, the ideal situation would be to work on the business with the people you love most.
Therefore, all of your business conversations, whether at lunch, on the phone or while sitting in the office, will be with people you’ve chosen to spend your life with. Involving your kids can open up new markets and teach them valuable lessons in professionalism and entrepreneurship.
Dedicate One Room to Technology
Whether or not you’re jumping into the startup world as business partners with your family, technology poses a new sort of dilemma. We need our laptops, tablets and smartphones to generate more leads and revenue, but these things can also severely hinder your ability to communicate with your family when it’s truly needed. Think about when a few people are texting while out to lunch with friends. That’s quality time that’s completely shattered for no reason.
We recommend making one or two rooms in the house technology-friendly. This is where you submerge yourself in emails, texts and whatever else you need to do to run your business. Other rooms, like the kitchen and living space, are phone and computer-free zones. This way, you’re completely submerged in business when you need to be, while also engaged with your family at the right times.
Do you have what it takes to start your own company without hurting your family life?
Strategies, organization and clearly defined rules are essential to launching a new business without it affecting your personal and family life. Make sure you communicate well and show your family that they are still the most important part of your life. It may surprise you how understanding and supportive they can be.