Thursday, May 5, 2011

Getting Spouse Support To Work At Home

I have been surprised by the number of times I have talked people who made the decision to work-at-home and then the very next day, after talking to their spouse, gave up their goal. What baffles me is not so much that the spouse talked them out of trying to work-at-home, but that if the spouse was going to have influence over the decision, why wasn't he or she brought into the process earlier?

The thing I find even more shocking is that the opposing spouse not only doesn't trust his (or her) mate's decision but that often, he (or she) doesn't even take the time to read what has been gathered about working at home to learn how the decision was made. The spouse hasn't visited a single website or read a single email when he expresses his opinion. And faced with a questioning spouse, the wife has to explain her choices and maybe begins to second-guess herself. (Please note that I know in many cases it's the husband who wants to work at home and it's the wife who isn't supportive.)

It's hard enough to build a business as it is, but an unsupportive, even negative spouse makes it nearly impossible. If your spouse has influence over your decision about working at home, read on for some ideas to help get your spouse on your side:

1) In most cases, it is very important to have your spouse read all the materials you read, listen to any recordings or calls, and talk to those you talk to as well. That way he can get the same information you do without your trying to explain it and missing something. Any questions or concerns can be raised and explored together. If he is resistant in participating in the research and evaluation process, then let him know that he will need to trust that you can make a good decision and support whatever you decide. How can your spouse influence your decision when he doesn't have all the information that you have?

2) All successful businesses have a business plan that outlines financial aspects including how will the business be funded and maintained? Many spouses worry that the family will fall into poverty if you quit your job to work at home. Therefore, make a plan to show that you won't let the family finances suffer. Will you work your business around your job? Will you work six months living on one salary saving the second income for business start-up? By showing you have put thought and planning into your decision, as well as demonstrating that it's financially feasible for you to work at home, your spouse will be in a better position to support your endeavor.

3) Make a plan that shows how you are going to fit your business in with what you already do and how it will benefit the family in the long run. Let your spouse help with goals and even reap some of the rewards. My husband puts the kids to bed (baths, lunches for school etc) so I can work because he would like a new car and a trip to Mexico this Christmas.

4) Plan for household management. Because I am home, I usually make dinner and take care of things that need to be done such as scheduling repairs. But I do work so my husband and children help with household chores as well. Make a plan to show how the rest of life can be managed and indicate areas that you could use support.

5) Make a schedule so you have clear work and non-work hours. I work some in the evening, but I don't work 3:30 pm to 7 pm because this is family time. Be clear and strict with your schedule. Don't let your business take too much time away from your family, but you also need to ask your family to respect your work" hours.

6) Let your spouse know working at home is important to you...if it is. Often home businesses, especially those run by moms, are seen as little mommy hobbies. It's okay if it is just a hobby, but if you are looking to make this your "career" or if its important to you, you need to convey that to your family. Hopefully they'll respect your dream even if they don't agree with it.

7) Tell your spouse how it will be different this time around. If you have a history of failed attempts at working at home, getting spousal support will likely be very hard. Along with doing the 6 other items listed above, you also need to make sure you are making good choices AND doing the work! You need to evaluate why your past efforts failed. Did you choose a questionable program? If you blame program for your failure, did you do the research you needed to do to make a good choice? Are you being completely honest about your part in the failure? Sometimes people fail because they don't put in the time and effort that is needed to be successful? If you didn't work like you should, why didn't you? If you are going to show your spouse that it will be different this time around, you need to have a clear plan to show him why.

8) Consider doing it anyway. If your spouse is still unsupportive, you have a decision to make about how important working at home is to you. If you really want to succeed in working at home, you need to hold firm to your dream. Do you think people thought stay-at-home mom Mrs. Fields was crazy to think she could open a store selling her chocolate chip cookies? Or that Mary Kay Ashe was nuts to think she could support her family selling cosmetics from her kitchen table? Or that J.K. Rowling was wasting her time sitting in a cafe day after day writing about Harry Potter? Everybody starts at the bottom with only a dream. Mrs. Fields did. Mary Kay did. JK Rowling did. I did. None of us let the nay-sayers in our world, even those closest to us hold us back. If your spouse is holding you back, take a good look at why. It may be that one of the suggestions above will help him/her understand what it is you are trying to accomplish and how. But, if not, sometimes, you just got to do it anyway.

If you go the I'm doing it no matter what" route, you still want to do the seven steps outlined above because it will not only help insure your success but it will let your spouse know that you are aware of her concerns and are trying to alleviate them. 

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