Home-support base

Going from a start-up sole trading operation to a thriving new year as a profitable small business? You’ll need acceptance, encouragement and support. Here’s where to get it.

Home-support base

Jane Shelton

A friend of mine solved the question of appropriately recognising his staff with a time-saving visit to David Jones for store gift cards. Recognising the support of your home team for your home business is not quite as simple, but it is a business essential.

This time of year means that family is the main priority for a lot of people. If you have a home business it’s time to reflect upon the benefits and costs of running that business from your home, especially when you have family members working with you to beat the holiday season rush.

The home team plays a large part in the success or failure of your emerging home-based business. Your home team includes family members living with you, friends and extended family who are available to support your new business. Having a home business can overall be a positive experience for you and your family.

Now is a good time to think about how the business has affected you, your immediate and extended family, over the past 12 months.

Has it been a blessing or a burden on your family and home life? Prepare a brief cost/benefit analysis and write out the pros and cons of having the business at home. If the costs outweigh the benefits, and the cons stack up more than the pros, it’s time to call a family council and think about what 2008 will be like for you, your business and your family.

In my extended family there are a number of home businesses operating – we have a new recruitment start-up that came about in 2007, we have a couple of consulting businesses – HR and strategy, outsourced bookkeeping services, support for a business outside the home with BAS completion and a book business involving eBay. Our extended family finds having home businesses and working from home a great part of our lives that is both fulfilling and rewarding.

If your home business has been floundering, it may be time to build more support for the business. This requires commitment and sign-on from family members and a strong home business professional support team. Day-to-day living is inevitably disrupted by the demands of customers and the pressures from suppliers who see the home as just a business contact point.

Balancing family and business expectations means knowing when to complete necessary tasks and finalise details by juggling competing priorities. Timing is a key consideration for running the home-based business. The process involves knowing what to do before starting, things to do during the operation of the business, then deciding on new future directions and knowing when your family must take priority.

Plan the transition for the household. Focus on the needs, wants, hopes and expectations. Working hours, differing home expectations and cash limitations can cause friction. Understand who it will affect and how to cushion any negative consequences of operating from home.

Build buy-in from extended family members – parents, in-laws, brothers and sisters, and friends. Let family and friends know when you need assistance. Set clear guidelines for how family and friends can help out. Be clear and direct, on the level, and specific about what assistance is required.

Here are a few thought starters for a discussion of the growth plans for your own family business at a home team meeting – an open family discussion – in which you ask loved ones for support:

  • Plan the transition for the household – who wants to do more and who wants to do something different?
  • Develop strategies to deal with loneliness and depression – keep in touch with friends and stay close to your suppliers.
  • Build support from extended family members – let them know what you are planning to do next. Use Christmas family gatherings to encourage discussion about the way things have been going.
  • Write a space into your diary for an enjoyable time with your extended family after the mad rush is over.

Despite the risks of negative feedback, give your family the opportunity to discuss feelings and thoughts about the business. Let them raise their concerns and expectations for changing routines.

Positive reinforcement and support will be beneficial to your outlook and the future success of the business. Encouragement at just the right time can make the emotional difference between being discouraged from continuing and making that extra effort to see it through.

This will lead to acceptance, encouragement and support in the transition from a start-up sole trading operation to a thriving new year as a profitable small business.

Seasons greetings to all who share the home-based business passion.


Dr Jane Shelton not only runs a business from home but is doing business research into people working from home. She is managing director of Marshall Place Associates, Melbourne’s independent think tank, and CEO (honourary) for ‘Life. Be in it.’ International. Shelton has a Doctorate in Business Administration at the Australian Graduate School of Entrepreneurship (AGSE) at Swinburne University of Technology after a Master of Arts in Public Policy at Melbourne University and a Bachelor of Business in banking and finance at Monash University.

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