Tips for Home-preneurs: How to Call It a Day

Latest posts by Lynne Meredith Schreiber (see all)

Before Becky Boyd turned her basement into an office for her public relations business, MediaFirst PR, she fell prey to the “just let me check another e-mail” syndrome that ails many home-based entrepreneurs.

“We had a computer in our living room, and it was so easy to run in there and go online and start doing e-mail,” says Boyd, who works with her husband, Jim Caruso.

After founding the company in 1992, the pair worked offsite. But they moved home because, well, they liked being there. It was easy, convenient, required no commute and – a big plus – their young son wouldn’t have to sit in after-school daycare.

They built out the basement of their 4,000-square-foot, three-story house, creating two offices and a computer closet. Every day, Boyd dresses for work like she would for an offsite office. She sets hours, too, which is imperative for home-preneurs who can get swept away by the compelling forces of working where you live.

“It’s very hard to leave work at work because work is always available,” says Boyd, who has to fight the urge to work 16-hour days and fill weekends with earning income. “It’s not like I have to drive anywhere, fight traffic. I just go boom, and I’m in the office. You have to make a concerted effort to get away from it.”

It’s Your Life, Protect It

Asher Epstein, managing director of the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland, and a serial entrepreneur, says, “It boils down to being disciplined, setting work hours, setting family time and trying to stick to those.”

Epstein’s home-office is a desk in the family room, so he makes sure to spend time with his daughter and wife before heading back to work late at night or early in the morning. He also shuts down every Friday night and Saturday for focused, guaranteed family time.

A weekly day off gives Epstein an edge: “It gives you a chance to separate yourself, get some perspective and keep you fresh in the long-run – which is important if you’re going to keep up an aggressive pace.”

Nothing is ever as urgent as you think, he adds. That’s a great reminder to let after-hours calls go to voicemail. And it sends the message that you’re busy, which is good for business.

If you provide superior service, you won’t always have to be on call anyway, says John Clarkin, director of the Tate Center for Entrepreneurship at the College of Charleston, in Charleston, S.C.

“You want to have the passion and desire that it takes,” Clarkin says. “All that fire and passion [is] not easily shut off [when you] walk out of [the] home office into the kitchen.”

But if you’re in it for the long-haul, you can’t work 24/7 for long without burning out and tanking your business in the process, he continues.

“Smart entrepreneurs need to take their time and balance their life because most do it for their families,” he says. “If they’re always working, they’re not going to have much of a family.”

Practice a Closed-Door Policy

Put a door on your workspace, and close it – both when you’re working, and when you’re not.

Don’t take papers and files out of the office. “Don’t have your daughter sitting on your lap while you’re doing invoices,” Clarkin says. “Don’t spread stuff on the kitchen table while you’re eating.”

Learn time management by reading a book, taking a class or talking to a mentor. This means setting hours – for work and play – and sticking to them. “You have to do it consciously,” Clarkin explains. “It won’t happen by itself. [Learn to] leave it behind, physically and mentally: Close the door, put the phone on answer, do not take those calls in the night.”

But while balance is the goal, cut yourself a break when you overshoot your office time. Entrepreneurship is a round-the-clock pursuit, “a way of life,” Clarkin says. “Whether in an office, retail [space] or home, true entrepreneurs live it 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

Just don’t forget why.

Previous Article

Stirring Things Up: Billy Downs Finds a Win-Win in Everything - Business Goal Setting Series

Next Article

Renovation Nation: Remodeling Startup 101

Related Posts
personal finances
Read More

Managing Personal Finances When Starting a Business

As an entrepreneur, you know saving money is crucial. It can be tempting to throw all of your money into your newest venture, but doing so can risk heavy losses if it doesn’t take off. Even if your startup becomes an international success, you should still be keeping an eye on your funds. Managing your...
virtual assistant
Read More

How Virtual Assistants Can Benefit Startup Leaders

According to venture capitalist Bill Trenchard of First Round Capital, the average startup founder "works about 300 days a year, 14 hours a day." He should know. Trenchard cofounded and led three companies and, as a VC, advises hundreds of startups. "Looking at the schedule of a typical CEO, a full 70 percent of that...
succession planning
Read More

Your Business Legacy: Why Succession Planning Is a Crucial Step in Estate Planning

Running your own business is a mammoth task and a considerable investment. Statistics have consistently shown that small business owners have to work longer and harder than the average employee. So, after dedicating so much time and energy to building up a company, it’s crucial to protect it should the worst happen. Almost all of...
supply chain
Read More

How to Keep Vendors and Clients Happy During Supply Chain Hiccups

Supply chain breakdowns are happening due to global disruptions, rising costs and increased consumer expectations. Businesses can't always stop supply chain hiccups, but they can learn from them and limit their impact on vendors and clients. How a business responds to a supply chain issue can have far-flung effects. A company that is proactive and...