By Rieva Lesonsky
Do you ever work from home? You’re not alone. A whopping 89 percent of small business owners in a recent survey by say they work from home at least part of the time, and 67 percent report that they love working at home.
As a home-based entrepreneur myself, I know both the joys and frustrations of working at home. When it comes to frustrations, here are the biggest challenges entrepreneurs in the Endurance International Group survey face when working from home:
- Time management — 41 percent
- Attracting new clients or customers — 34 percent
- Family or friends interrupting my workday — 32 percent
- Limited resources — 26 percent
- Scaling my business — 23 percent
- No time for my personal life and interests — 22 percent
- None of the above — 16 percent
I certainly understand all of these frustrations, but aside from interruptions by family and friends, none of them are unique to home-based business owners. Just about every business owner I know struggles with time management and work-life balance, no matter whether they work from their kitchen table or a corner office.
Despite the challenges, almost two-thirds (63 percent) of small business owners say they are more productive when they work at home than in the office. Just 21 percent say they are less productive because they get easily distracted; 9 percent say they are less productive because they’d rather work with employees and partners in person.
While children are one of the most common reasons that small business owners choose to work at home, it seems they’re also the biggest distraction. Twenty-one percent of survey respondents say children are their biggest distraction while trying to get work done at home, surpassing household chores (17 percent), personal calls (16 percent) and TV (12 percent).
One reason small business owners are more productive at home, they say, is that they’re less likely to be multitasking. For example, 54 percent say they don’t multitask while taking part in conference calls from home. Of those who do multitask, 33 percent say they do other work while on calls.
Technology is the driving force between our ability to work from home just as effectively as we can from an office. What emerging technologies do small business owners believe has the greatest potential to help them grow their businesses in the coming years? Artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality, and the Internet of things have been the subjects of lots of publicity and hype recently. However, most of the surveyed small business owners don’t expect these to have the most dramatic effect on their businesses.
Instead, 20 percent believe mobile payment apps and mobile wallets, such as Square, PayPal or Apple Pay, have the biggest potential to help them grow their businesses. The tool with the most potential overall: Social media, cited by 41 percent of entrepreneurs. Since social media has been around for a decade or so, perhaps newer technologies like AI need several years to gain a foothold before entrepreneurs will fully embrace them.
Once AI robots become commercially available on a wider scale, small business owners are eager to take advantage of them. Asked what they would delegate to a robot if they could hand off any business task they wanted, 46 percent say they would have the robot manage their business social media accounts, and 45 percent would have the robot update their website. In addition, 41 percent wish they had a robot to handle marketing and advertising, 34 percent want a robot to screen their calls and emails, 32 percent want the robot to do data entry and 31 percent say they would use a robot to generate invoices.
Robots may not be reality for the average small business owner just yet. However, there are many ways to accomplish all of the tasks above more efficiently, whether by automating, delegating or outsourcing. Make the change, and you’ll make your business more productive—and your life a little easier.