Friday, August 31, 2012

Support of Your Family Is Logistical Consideration: Marketing Secret 27/101

What is the fastest way to destroy an otherwise successful small business.  Get divorced.  In my time in business, other than an owner becoming ill or incapacitated, an owner facing a divorce or other major disruption on the home front, is the primary cause of the owner becoming worse than useless.  The quantity of time on the job is reduced, but the quality of performance during the remaining hours on the job are unproductive or even counter productive. 

Clearly not every divorce involving a business owner can be traced to the pressures of the business, so you can't always proactively deal with spouses and kids with perfect results.  But, plenty of spouses and kids do feel left out and angry by an overworked, over tired, over traveled, mom or dad.

In the best case, you and your spouse have carefully weighed the costs together prior to starting the business.  You have agreed about being self employed, about the financial uncertainty and risks, and been realistic about the hours and time away from home.  You have an understanding with one another that it could all fail, and that when entrepreneurs fail, it generally means on to the next start-up. 

But all too often, the business owner fails to communicate the truths of what the spouse will need to endure.  All too often, there isn't enough financial reserve to keep the mortgage paid if optimistic expectations fall short. 

For most reading this, the first day of business is long past.  However, there is still plenty of times when the non-working spouse will feel left out and left alone unless everyone is on board as to how long the sacrifices will need to be made. 

When it comes to the kids, they just plain don't get it, they just get mad or sad.  Obviously our position as owner provides flexibility to be at daytime performances or games that 40 hours moms and dads can't make.  But if we have not blocked these time out of our schedule and been very proactive about taking advantage of our advantage, then shame on us. 

I've gone through divorce, had a partner go through divorce, experienced troubled kids at home, and the impact on our personal life is hard enough if you work a regular 40.  The impact on the business is huge.  I have created a few rules that might help you.  Keep in mind that I'm a guy, and the rules might be different for women.

1.  I leave the office at the office.  I never bring work home or take calls at home.  Or at least this was true until I became a work at home dad. 
2.  When I arrived home, I gave my wife the first 20 minutes exclusively.  Kids came later.  Mail, TV, and newspapers came later.
3.  A week of vacation with my wife with no kids.  Four 3 day weekends per year with my wife.  Date night once per week.
4.  Two weeks of vacation with the whole family every year.
5.  Me putting the kids to bed, doing grocery shopping when necessary or convenient, and driving kids when possible. 

I'm sure you have your own list.  If not make one.  As entrepreneurs you are more likely than others to set goals, strategies, and tactics that you will be disciplined enough to keep. 

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