The Politics of Home Business

by Rob Spiegel

Think there are no office politics when you work at home? It might look that way at first, but you'll soon discover that your spouse, your kids and even your dog have opinions about how your business should be run.

Let’s travel the murky waters of politics in the home business. If you have not yet owned a home business, you probably think there are no politics involved in home business. Most people start a home business to get away from office politics, and they are usually surprised to find there really are politics involved in running a home business.

At first, the politics of home business seem small, especially compared to the wicked and deadly politics that percolate violently through most office environments. But given time, the politics of home business rise in importance and threaten the joy and productivity of working from home. If neglected, the politics of home business can destroy the very creativity that fueled your desire to run an enterprise from your home in the first place.

The politics of clients
Smart home business owners calculate how many hours they spend per project or client. But the client mix is always ruled by a nasty and brutal law: your least profitable client is always the loudest complainer. Your most profitable client is always the dreamboat. I’m not talking about client size, I’m talking profitability. Your least profitable client may be your biggest or she may be your smallest. You need to get rid of this client. She will drag the very spirit out of you. If you’re like me, it’s not going to be easy to drop her. At any given moment, I’m convinced I’m just about to lose 60 percent of my clients. After eight years of working from home, you’d think I’d gain some confidence. But nope. I’m convinced that I’m about to go under, so I hold onto every client, no mater how nasty. Buck up and push this lousy client away. Let her go torture your competition.



The politics of time management
The busier you are, the greater the likelihood you’ll sit down and watch TV. Time can’t be managed. Your brain is a wild animal that will drag you to the kitchen, make you to pile up a plate of fattening food and force you to the couch on deadline day. Most of the time you can fight it, but not on deadline day. Where you’re not on deadline, you’re happy to eat broccoli at the computer.

The politics of children
Kids don’t fight until you pick up the phone. And their fights are mild if it’s not an important call. They save their big fights for the time you’re doing your first conference call with a new client in Israel. They’re also livelier on deadline day. That’s when they want to go to lunch and the movies. But of course on deadline day you also want to go to lunch and the movies, so it works out.

The politics of the dog
When you had a job, your dog was happy to spend the whole day trapped in the house alone. Now that you’re there, she wants to go to the park. And not just the little park across the street. She wants to go to the big park 20 minutes away where dogs run without their leashes. And when she’s tired of that, she wants to go the wilderness area 40 minutes away where there’s a river and ducks. On deadline day, you’re very happy to take her to the river.

The politics of the spouse
I’m afraid I can’t help you on the politics of the spouse. These are deep and treacherous waters. I could warn you to make sure you never lose the support and good will of your spouse. But of course that’s impossible. You will certainly lose the support and good will of your spouse many times over. And each time, you have to earn it right back. And if you fail to earn it back – as I finally did – things can get real quiet in the house. But that’s ok. You’ll get a lot of work done in a quiet house. Unless it’s deadline day, and the TV’s on and there’s good food in the fridge . . . .

Rob Spiegel is the author of Net Strategy (Dearborn) and The Shoestring Entrepreneur’s Guide to Internet Start-ups (St. Martin's Press). You can reach Rob at robspiegel@comcast.net

 
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