July 14, 2004
A Family Business is Like a Marriage By Angela Hoy | printable version
Before I became a business owner, I'd heard stories about mom and pop businesses that failed when mom and pop got sick of each other and got divorced. I'm often asked how Richard and I manage to stay happy while working side-by-side all day long, every day. Not only do we work side-by-side, but we work at home, so we work and live in the same space. We've abandoned the home office for the time being because it's too hot in there this time of year. So, we work in the bedroom during the day and watch TV in there together at night (with all the kids lounging around, too). Come to think of it, the only time I'm not with Richard is when one of us gets up to go to the bathroom. We even go to the grocery store together (that cabin fever sets in every few days).
Right now, we're on the road for 46 days, traveling 6400 miles through 23 states. So, we're working and living with the children in a 24-foot RV. I can tell you that this trip is changing my life...for the better! But more about that in a future column. (You can follow our daily adventures at: http://www.WirelessTrips.com.)
Running a business with someone, even your spouse, is a lot like a marriage. You work hard and help the other person in every way you can because you love them (in the case of a business you respect them) and you want them to be happy and the marriage (business) to survive. Richard and I have managed to tweak our business processes and tasks to perfection, thus ensuring happy days that lead to happy customers, professional fulfullment, and a nifty profit.
If I'm terribly burned out and need a day of rest by the river, Richard will sit outside with his laptop nearby and take care of any emergencies or customer service issues that come up. If Richard needs a break and decides to watch a 24-hour marathon of a series he's Tivo'd, I watch the business, cook dinner that night and make sure none of the children are being mischievous. Taking care of me makes Richard happy. Taking care of Richard makes ME happy. We're kinda selfish that way and and our selfishness is a loving tribute to each other, our relationship, and our business.
If I'm sick. Richard takes over everything, and vice-versa. If we're both sick, we take care of each other and let the business run itself for a day or so. (That's the beauty of having an online business...it's open 24 hours/day and your server is your sales clerk.)
Now, don't think running a business from home is easy and stress-free. We work hard to be successful...very hard. I work far more hours than I ever did working for other people. But the trade-off is that we make more money then we ever did working for other people, too. And when you work for yourself, you feel an immense sense of pride in a job well-done.
The best part about running a family business online is:
If you're a freelancer, you're already working for yourself. I've talked to many of you who have become so successful that your spouse has also joined you at home (that's what happened in our situation). If you're a full-time, self-employed journalist or author and your spouse stays home with the children, you're in business together as well. It's frustrating sometimes when one person seems to be pulling more of the load than the other. But, remember, cooking dinner or doing a load of dishes is just as important as getting that article in on time. If your spouse is taking care of the house and children, you have more time to write to support that household. Each piece of your personal and professional puzzle needs to come together to ensure the progression of your business and the success of your personal relationships.
If you're one of those unfortunate creatives that is lambasted by family and your spouse for your "little hobby" (my ex-husband was that way), I sympathize with your situation. My only advice is to close your ears, turn on your computer, and start proving them wrong. It's amazing what a few clips will do to shut up family members who don't support your talents and your desire to succeed on your own. And if you feel like you're working alone and need someone to give you a thumbs up, a virtual hug, or a nudge, drop by our freelance forum. There are hundreds of us waiting to help you find success with your home writing business.
My ex belittled my little "hobby" business (WritersWeekly.com) to the extent that he made me add a provision to our divorce decree stating that I was the sole owner, financially responsible for the entire business. That was kind of dumb of him because the business had no debts and it was bringing in money each month, though not much back then. If he knew how successful it is now, he'd sure be wishing he'd kept half of my little "hobby" business!
If you have a good product or service and if you work hard and aggressively market that product or service, you will be successful. And, yes, you can be successful enough to turn doing what you love into a family business. If your spouse joins you in your new business, remember to not only respect each other professionally, but to always put each other's personal needs first to ensure the success of your business and your marriage.
Angela Hoy is the publisher of Booklocker.com, Inc., an author-friendly POD publisher that takes no rights, pays high royalties on a monthly basis, and treats authors like people, not numbers. Booklocker.com is happy to work with the parents of child authors! She also publishes WritersWeekly.com, the free marketing emag for writers, offering paying markets and freelance jobs every Wednesday at no charge.
This article may be freely reprinted/redistributed as long as the entire article and bio are included.