People are always curious when they hear about our family business, a venture began in 1991 in our home. They want to know how we started, where we got our recipes, and are we really sick of cookies by now (never!) When they hear we are doing this while raising 5 children, the eyebrows go up like an elevator on speed. But telling folks that we are doing this while raising 5 children and home-schooling, well; the curiosity meter hits the stratosphere.
It truly isn’t any hint of greatness in us that has caused this to happen. We are ordinary people doing ordinary things…we just do them in an extraordinary way! Lots of folks have it in them to do just what we are doing. I know a home-schooling family with 6 kids and a home business. You can visit them at www.northwestgifts.com.
I also know another family with 12 kids (all home-schooled) that you can also visit on the web at www.herndonchocolate.com. These families are simply doing what folks have been doing since the dawn of time: caring for, teaching, and providing for their loved ones using the home as their primary base of operations.
So what do you need in order to start your own home-based business? First you need a vision. Even before you have a product in mind you need to identify what it is that gets you stoked whenever you think of it. Sometimes a product suggests itself, such as musical instruments if your passion is providing everyone who wants to make music with a quality instrument. Other times, your passion is to encourage the elderly or make the world safer. So the product could be greeting cards or soup, bumper stickers or deadbolts. Whatever you choose, the secret behind ventures that succeed is that you do it with passion and excellence. Be willing to make adjustments, but stick to your vision.
Here are some tips on how to survive and thrive while pursuing a family business venture: Remember to keep your sense of humor. When Mom and Dad take things too seriously, it doesn’t feel “fun” anymore and major tension in the home can make everyone unhappy. Transfer your passion to the kids through loving what you do.
Keep downtime in mind. Sometimes we are still talking business and strategizing on into the evening hours. When this results in our daughter, Brooke, who is also our bookkeeper, having to work on financial stuff at 10:00 p.m., or our son Michael being called in to fix something on the website when he’s watching a movie with the kids, well, it can be a little much. We are working on guarding our family’s time a bit more carefully.
Don’t be afraid to be labeled a “fanatic.” This is simply the lazy man’s word for excellence. Other successful folks understand the need to have systems that EVERYONE is required to follow. NO EXCEPTIONS! Sounds fanatical, but in truth, that is the only way to get the same results every time. I admit that while this is easy for me in the bakery (I am our Bakery Manager), I have a harder time seeing it when it comes to other aspects of our business that I am not as involved in. This leads me to the final, but probably most important tip.
Communication will make or break you. Poor communication results in confusion, misunderstandings and hurt feelings. Now, if you are working together as husband and wife as we do, you compound this exponentially. We are constantly working through things we each did or didn’t do that caused a problem for the other. You may think it sounds childish, but if you have ever had a problem with a co-worker you know that at the end of the day it is a RELIEF to go home and put that person out of your mind. This is a luxury you do not have if you are MARRIED to your troublesome co-worker! We have been married 26 years-27 in August- and let me encourage you: getting married is easy, staying married takes WORK! So stay at it! Don’t give up!
Having a family business is a tool. It is a tool for teaching your young ones life skills, financial skills and relationship skills. Our children have all had good success on the job wherever they have been because they learned at an early age that hard work, honesty and excellence are essential to succeed at any undertaking, not just a home business. Watching and participating in our family business has taught them what to do and sometimes what NOT to do as they make their own way in the world.