work-life balance, working from home

By Rieva Lesonsky

Before you move your small business home or launch a home-based business, stop and think about whether you’re truly prepared for what working from home is really like. (Believe me, I know.) A recent survey of home-based small business owners, conducted by Carbonite, spotlights some of the common problems that entrepreneurs often run into while they’re working from home. Take a look, and think about how you’d deal:

Nearly half (45 percent) of survey respondents have lost data or documents because a family member used their work computer. Four in 10 have told a “white lie” to a client to cover up for such a technological breakdown.

Small business owners miss out on an average of five personal commitments each month, whether it’s a child’s recital or dinner with friends, to get their work done. More than half (56 percent) say they regularly skip events to finish projects.

A whopping 78 percent admit they have to “hide out” at home to find enough peace to get their work done. The bedroom was the top hiding place, but 13 percent have finished work in the bathroom and 12 percent have camped out in the garage.

Last, but not least, home-based business owners often get into arguments with their spouse or significant other over work, with the three big points of contention being that work is cluttering other parts of the house (32 percent), working late is taking away from family time (31 percent) and the business owner can’t separate personal life from professional life (30 percent).

Do these facts mean you shouldn’t work from home? Not at all, but they do mean that you need to do a reality check. Before you start working from home:

  • Make sure you have an adequate place to work. The dining room table probably won’t cut it. Assess how many hours you’ll be working, what type of work you’ll be doing, whether you’ll need to meet with customers in the home, and what your family’s needs are before you choose your setup.
  • Get your family on board. Working from home can’t work without the support of everyone at home. Make sure your loved ones understand what this lifestyle demands. Set regular work hours if possible so that everyone knows what to expect.
  • Be prepared to juggle. I don’t believe in work-life balance, because the two things rarely balance. Sometimes you may be all about the personal stuff, and other times you’ll have to focus on business. Be prepared to sacrifice some personal time to make your business work, but by the same token, don’t feel guilty about grabbing personal time when you and your family need it.