Quite often, I feel a strong tug between family needs and professional needs. I work very hard on The Simple Dollar, but sometimes I would rather spend time with my family. Thankfully, by focusing carefully on what opportunities I have available, I can do both.
Here are seven ways that you can simultaneously advance your career or small business and also spend time with your family.
Choose a business that junctions well with your family’s needs. For example, blogging gives me the flexibility to write around the schedules of others. If I ever launch my cooking blog, I can also leverage the time I spend preparing meals and eating towards that blog. My aunt’s family used to spend a lot of time hiking, so she started a geode business, incorporating geode collecting into the walks.
Find a business that excites and interests them. If you have no ideas for a business that junctions with what your family normally does, sit down with them and brainstorm for ideas. Find out things that would be of interest to them. Would they like to grow a large garden and sell vegetables as a family? How about hunting for and collecting geodes or mushrooms (both of which were businesses where I grew up)?
Incorporate your family into the business work. My father used to have a huge vegetable garden and he’d often sell at least some of the excess and make some decent money at it. To keep this garden going, the whole family would spend an hour or so in the evening in the garden, weeding and irrigating. One can do this with most businesses – for example, with blogging, I use family time to a degree as research time. When my children get older, I will employ them as helpers in my computer consulting business doing the more mundane tasks.
Participate in community events as a family. There are countless opportunities in your local community to connect with other people, and those connections can often help advance one’s career, open new career paths, or connect with new clients. In fact, I’ve already stirred up a bit of business from people on my block just by interacting with them a bit with my family along. You can also do things like sponsor a Pee Wee League team and write it off as advertising.
Ask for their input directly. If you’re brainstorming for ideas, go downstairs and talk to your wife about it or your children about it. Use them as brainstorming tools – quite often, my wife comes up with little brilliant ideas for The Simple Dollar, so I often brainstorm around her. We’ll do this over the dinner table as one of several conversation topics. This also helps in making others feel like more of a part of what you’re doing.
Use them for promotion. Around here, there’s a large computer consulting business run by a guy and his family. The only one too young to help is basically used for promotion – he does the ad voiceovers on the radio. Amazingly, it’s really effective – the child’s voice really stands out on the radio, the message is simple enough so that it’s plausible that a child would deliver it, and the enthusiasm that the child uses when announcing the name of the business (a dot-com URL) makes it stick in your head. This works very well for local businesses like this.
Use it for education. Say you’re doing a mundane task and your child is sitting downstairs bored, wishing you weren’t busy all the time. Take the child with you and show them the task. Explain what you’re doing and why and how it results in money in the end. Answer their questions. It might slow you down, but it increases the time for bonding with family.
In a nutshell, a business opportunity does not have to separate you from your family. If your family is important to you, include them in your career and business choices and let them be involved at all stages. Use the assets of youth (energy, enthusiasm, and creativity) to their advantage (and your spouse’s attributes as well!) and you’ll suddenly find yourself spending valuable time with your family while still moving forward in your career or business.