Photo courtesy of thelightingjudge.com
Working from home is a popular option for many family businesses, and with good reason: it offers supreme schedule flexibility from the comforts of one’s couch or home office. But this option does not come without its challenges. Two at-home business owners, Kelly Stickelmaier of Bright Idea! and workplace consultant Dorene Burkhalter of Paramount Potentials, weigh in on the pros and cons of running a business from home.
Bright Idea! is a contract firm specializing in marketing, graphic design and event planning. Stickelmaier, who started the company five years ago, says there are definite upsides to running a business from home. “We like to laugh that we can work in our pajamas when it’s really cold outside,” she says, “but having the ability to plan my day however I need to is probably the biggest pro.”
But that freedom is a double-edged sword. Stickelmaier says structure is also critical to a successful at-home business. “The best thing I did when I started was to make sure I scheduled things every week, because it’s very tempting to say ‘I’ll take a nap’ or ‘I’ll go watch a TV show’ because it’s all right here,” she says. “It’s important to get up, get dressed and really make appointments.” Of course, working and living under the same roof can make it difficult to separate work from family time, she says. “It’s a constant cycle to make sure that I’m balancing.
When the phone needs to be shut off, I try to do that. [My husband and I] try to take at least one really good vacation away—just the two of us—each year.” One major hurdle is the lack of a team feel at home, Stickelmaier says. “When you work in an office environment, there is daily interaction with other people, and the camaraderie you have when you work in an office is removed… when you work out of your home.”
Burkhalter agrees. She says working from home as an industrial organizational psychologist suits her well, but could leave others feeling lonely. “If you’re more of a social person, you might feel bored not having that coworker to talk to or bounce ideas off of.” Having worked from home for nearly 20 years, Burkhalter says her work environment is stress-free. “It takes away the peoplepower politics, I don’t have distractions, and I can dress more casually,” she says. “Because I am my own company with flexible hours, I can work into the evening if I need to.”
Burkhalter’s advice resonates with Stickelmaier’s message: Be driven. “It’s important to be self-directed, organized and to set plans,” she says. “Have your contacts, and get out there and sell yourself.” iBi