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Tips to Setting Boundaries: Making Your Office Your Own

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The American Dream. Quitting your 9-to-5 job to start your own business and work at home. More and more people are making their dream come true. But before you quit that job and set up your home office, there are a few issues to consider.

On the plus side, part of your home and related expenses are tax deductible. It's convenient to work while your kids are in school and home for them when they walk through the door in the afternoon, and let's face it, not having a boss to answer to is a major plus.

But it's not always the ideal situation. Starting a business from home isn't always easy on families. There are many issues that will affect your family. First and foremost are financial issues. Will you be able to handle the hit to your wallet when you don't have a steady paycheck? If this is an issue, consider working your business part time while holding down a full down job.

It takes a very dedicated person to work from home. There are always distractions to overcome. Unexpected visits from family members who think you have lots of free time because you don't work a "real" job. Telemarketers calling in the middle of the day. Neighbors dropping by to see if you'll babysit, "real quick" while they run errands. It's important to let family and friends know your working hours. Tell them in no uncertain terms that your business is an income producting and you need to block out regular working hours. Also let them know when you are available.

Along those same lines, it is crucial that you explain to your own family that, although you are home, you are not always available to them. This can be confusing to kids. Set some basic rules for them to follow. Let them know your work hours and tell them you expect not to be disturbed. But occasionally, surprise them by quitting early and doing something fun with them!

Here are a few basic rules that will help you and your family handle the new working situation.

* Make sure everyone knows not to answer your business phone. This will save you in a number of ways. You'll be sure to always get your messages. Kids are never good at getting all the details. You'll create a much more professional business image if you answer your own phone.

*If you're children are typical kids, they will want to "borrow" your office supplies. Give them their own office supply center elsewhere in the house! Otherwise, you'll start losing your much needed supplies.

*Set a work schedule at the beginning of every week and post it in a prominent spot so family members can check your schedule to see when you will be available.

Though these issues can and probably will arise, working from home is still the American Dream for many people. Learning to set, and more importantly, enforce boundaries for family, friends and clients will make your business less complicated.

Mary Rita Earle is the owner of Duchess Marketing A complete suite of the hottest work at home ideas, opportunities, tips and tools for the home business entrepreneur. Get free information via email to:

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