with Neighbors and Family
When you run a business out of your home, the issue of
dealing with your neighbors, your friends, and your family comes
to mind almost immediately. A traditional work setting contains
natural boundaries for the people in your personal life.
However, when you work at home you will need to create these
boundaries so that your business, as well as your personal life,
can run smoothly and successfully.
What can you do to create these boundaries? Mentally
separating "home" from "office" is the first
step you should take. A part of setting up these boundaries is
deciding how to deal with interruptions from neighbors, friends,
and family while you are working at home. Another issue you may
confront when you work at home is neighbors, friends, and family
asking for business-related favors. It's important to be ready
with a plan to confront these "boundary" issues when
they occur if you want you and your home business to be taken
seriously and to succeed.
Interruptions. As a person who works at home, you will
be faced with an issue that people who work in a traditional
business setting are not. When you work at home, you have the
task of conveying to those closest to you, your family, friends,
and neighbors, that when you are at home and working, this is
your place of business. People who would never dream of just
barging into your workplace in a traditional business setting
may see things differently when you work at home. They may see
the fact that you're working at home as an opportunity to ask
you to do errands, baby-sit, call you, or stop by just to chat.
In other words, if you're at home, you're not really working, at
least in their mind.
Because the clear distinction between home and workplace does
not exist when you work at home, you must create the
distinction. How can you get neighbors, family, and friends to
take you seriously when you tell them you're working and can't
Setting up a separate workspace helps, particularly if
there's a door you can shut behind you. Even if this is
possible, it probably isn't enough on its own.
When people try to interrupt you while you're
working, whether it's in person or on the
telephone, tactfully let them know that you
can't be disturbed because you're working on
something (tell them generally what it is),
you're on a business call, you're with an
employee, or you're in a meeting. Then let them
know when you will be available and make sure
it's outside your regular business hours. It may
take some time, but your neighbors, friends, and
family will learn to take your home business as
seriously as you do!
Requests for business favors. When you work at home,
you may find that neighbors, friends, and family feel free to
ask you for discounts on your services and products or for free
advice and merchandise. While someone close to you might not
think of making this kind of request if you worked in a retail
store or for a corporation, that same person feels that it's
perfectly acceptable because your business is run from your
home. What can you do? It doesn't hurt to remind those close to
you that your livelihood (and in the case of your family, theirs
as well!) depends on the success of your home business. The fact
that your business is in your home doesn't make it any less of a
business. Explain that if you give away your product or a
service that you want others to pay for, you won't stay in
business for very long.