Question Column - March 2016
When your home office collides with your home life
A Distributor Asks: My wife and I run a small distributor company from home and are having a hard time separating our work from our personal lives. We talk about the company all day long, even on the weekends. We also work into the evenings during the week and most of the time put in a few hours on the weekends too. All of this does not leave much time or energy for anything else in life. We feel burnout coming on. How are other small-business owners finding a work/life balance?
We have had our promotional products business in our home for the past six years, and as we grew we had to force ourselves to have business hours. We won't answer the business phone line unless it is between those hours. I will check email but not answer unless it is during business hours. It seemed once clients knew we worked out of our home, they thought they could contact us any time. By giving ourselves permission to not allow the business to run our lives, we were able to put the computers down and not feel guilty by doing so.
If we had events that took us away during the day (time at school with the children, lunch with friends) we would be able to “catch up” during the evening time. We also try to make it a point not to work on the weekends.
We have to give ourselves permission to turn off “business talk” and remember that we are a couple and family first. If we don’t give ourselves that time, we lose the energy and desire to keep doing what we need to do.
Eagle Ink Specialty Printing
I have found that it is a waste of your time to reach clients on Monday mornings and Friday afternoons. They are off, or really busy, or just plain catching up. So you, too, can use that time for personal reasons. Step away from the desk when you start feeling exasperated by the pile of “things I gotta do!” Prioritize the projects. Most of the pressure we feel as independent sales distributors is self-induced.
So many times when I put pressure on myself to get a quote out, or get a catalog to a client, etc., always thinking that time is of the essence, the client isn’t waiting at their door for this. Always ask the client, “What is the timeline for this project?”
Do not eat your lunch or dinner at your desk. Do not work after dinner. Do your housework, yard work and have family time. Try to quiet your mind from sales thoughts, business thoughts, how to impress clients and instead think of your hobby, kids or anything but business. This is part of the self-discipline needed to survive.
Glen D. Eley
Eley Imprinted Products
Balance with my business and personal life became imperative as I almost lost my relationship with my family. I decided to set a schedule. I would get up early in the morning before anyone else did and do my promotional advertising emails or prep my checklist, and set up my communications with my factories for the business I needed to complete in the next two days. I would make lunches for the kids and myself, and cook breakfast, eat with the kids and then send them on their way. I would take one hour after that to do something for myself.
I never schedule any appointments before 10 am and rarely ever any after 4 pm, though I have met customers at a Chamber of Commerce after-hours event to get ideas one-on-one socially. Balance to our busy lives is paramount. Keep yourself from having heart failure, sadness and stress by balancing your life with exercise, good nutrition and a happy family. It’s so important to stay positive, directed and focused. Smile every chance you get when you're feeling overstressed. Get away from the computer every hour and move.
Since interruptions are distracting, when amazing ideas come to mind, write them on a chalkboard or dry erase board, and direct your mate to look at it on a regular basis so you can talk about them, and schedule meetings to do so if you need to.
My husband and I own our own printing company and work together at the site. After business ends, we go home and have set our boundaries of having home and work as separate entities. Sometimes, however, work-related issues come up in the home environment and a gentle reminder is spoken that it is to be taken care of on the next business day. Setting boundaries inside your home since you have a business/home environment may include keeping all work-related items in one room entirely. Or, if working on financials and/or advertising requires separate spaces, then have two devoted rooms only. Use other house areas as relaxation or family-oriented areas only. Setting these boundaries increases more productive thought processes and enables you to step away into other areas of home for a break from work-related issues.
Tope Printing, Inc.
A Supplier Asks:
We invested in expensive four-color printing equipment (a UV Logojet printer) and have now found that there isn’t as much demand as we thought. As a result, the printer nozzles are clogging from infrequent use and I’m concerned that we aren’t going to be able to profit from this investment. Have other suppliers run into this same lack of demand for four-color printing when the cost differential from one- or two-color printing is not that much, and the result is so much better? And does anyone have any creative ideas for how to use this equipment more?