Families Working Together and staying Sane While Coping With Illness!

Working TogetherIf you run a home based business and you live and work with your family, in the same building, then there is a vary real chance that you will go insane! My husband and I have worked together for years; it has literally taken years for us to work out how to run a business together and still remain in love. It takes a special effort for families working together, but finally my husband and I seem to have worked out the perfect way to ‘work and play’ without friction and stress.

The reason I was working from home was because I was the caregiver for my invalid mother. The reason my husband, Peter, stopped his full time work as an accountant to work with me, was that my art business was taking off in such an enormous way that I needed help.

Initially the main difficulty was getting Peter up at a reasonable hour and settling into work. He would wander around with a cup of coffee and want to sit down and chat with the girls that I employed as painters, slowing us all down. I literally had to set up a job list for him each day to make sure he got on with the tasks at hand and completed the list that day. He definitely struggled with the concept of working from home, whereas I enjoyed it enormously.

When we had to visit potential clients and build business connections, Peter was great. He would drive (I always got lost); I would do most of the talking but Peter would remember things more clearly and in a somewhat different mindset to me. Our later discussions could be quite volatile, but I found this exhilarating and it helped me to make decisions that were more stable than they might have been with just me making the decision. But Peter did not like these robust discussions; he always felt as though I was arguing with him, when in fact I was just stressing an alternative viewpoint.

Of course Peter kept the books, worked out the budget and discussed with me any potential problems he recognized. I am hopeless with this type of thing, so it was truly a blessing to have an in-house accountant. But I always felt as though Peter thought of this as ‘my’ business, rather than ‘our’ business. That certainly created some friction especially as I was an optimist and Peter was a pessimist; I was action orientated and Peter did not like to take actions he thought may be risky.

Peter was the manager and I was the entrepreneur – this was a good match. Later we developed an association to support other home based businesses like we were. I wanted to share my knowledge and skills with others. Finally we had found a way for Peter to feel as though he was a part of the business. We divided out tasks very clearly; Peter built websites, made videos; kept the accounts. I did the marketing, all written work (blogs etc.) and most of the phone calls and discussions with associates. Everything was working out well when tragedy struck.

I suffered from a stroke and a brain tumour simultaneously. Peter had a chronic back condition that had him bedridden for days at a time and had to have a full knee replacement. Suddenly surviving became our main focus. But even then, we were still able to keep our businesses going. I was left with the rare condition of ‘Alexia without Agraphia’ which means that I cannot read, BUT I can write! So, I immediately decided to write a book titled ‘Thank God I Had a Stroke’. It was a slow process as Peter had to read every page to me as I wrote it so that I could assess if I had actually said what I intended to.

Finally it was completed and an American company published it for me. Now it was time to market it. I had the ideas of how to do this but Peter had to spend more time on the phone, email etc. as I would from time to time get confused. I was organizing speaking presentations and had The Parliamentary Secretary for the Minister of Health decide to launch the book for me at Parliament House in Melbourne.

My Art business continued to thrive – though now it was an online business. I was still able to keep the association, Home Based Business Australia going as well. Everything was done more slowly now, but with a love and understanding of each other’s needs that had not been so obvious before. Families working together can stay together and be happy.

Hints and Tips

When running a business with a family member, make sure that you have very clear job descriptions. Stick to your area unless asked for advice from your partner. Regularly discuss issues and respect each other. Take advantage of the different skills each partner brings to the business. If illness strikes, don’t just ‘fold your business’ work out a way to keep it going, if that is what you both truly want.

25 thoughts on “Families Working Together and staying Sane While Coping With Illness!

  1. Jack J

    I am also a firm believer that job descriptions should be very clear and your area should be separate, it really helps to keep my sanity. Working with family can be so trying and I think is one of the harder things to do.

  2. Dan Reid

    Any business – family-run or not must maintain similar codes of conduct. Just in family-oriented ones, the relationships are tighter and the feelings experienced are heightened. In short, the impact’s greater and there’s more at stake. As you mentioned clearer communication and set expectations are truly what’s needed for it to survive should illness take part.

  3. Jennifer

    My grandmother had her first stroke in the backseat of her son’s car. She was lucky to have her daughter in law who is a nurse. Quick thinking by her daughter in law saved her life. Quick thinking from her son saved her house. They got together to create a jewelry business. That ended up doing great in Waynesville North Carolina.

  4. Jane

    Terrific article. Each person should have a responsible role in the business. If they have recently suffered a stroke try and give them to do small tasks which can still make them feel valued.

  5. suzanne mosso

    this would be a fabulous opportunity for me. I have been trying to find an “authentic” work at home career to allow me to stay home with my children.

  6. Samantha R.

    I normally have to make a list for my husband or else I have to keep reminding him like a child or he’ll forget certain things that need to be done. Family normally will drive you crazy but the best thing you can do is stay calm and collected.

  7. Ana B.

    This is great advice. I like what you said about sticking to your own area unless asked — this is important and will help to keep everyone happy!

  8. sarah

    Mutual respect is definitely key, I agree. Working with a family member is difficult because you have such a long history together, but these are really great suggestions, thanks.

  9. Michael

    I think it is great to be able to work with family members at home! They are the most understanding. Especially if your health takes a tragic turn. They will always be there for you and help you both emotionally and professionally.

  10. Vatrecia

    I really do appreciate this article, it shows that between individuals love can come from all places..
    the fact that each person came to a conclusion and decided to help one another but I truly believe communication is the key. And having that special bond as a family.

  11. Kris H

    I can sympathies. I own a business with my brother, your advice about setting out clear jobs description is correct. I’ve learned over the years to stick with my area of the business while allowing my brother to run his.

  12. Nicole Evans

    As always, your recovery story and your sound advice just strike a chord in me. I am so impressed with how positive you were and still remain and just face up to all the challenges life throws at you and your family. You are a true inspiration and, judging by the content of your blog, your book will be packed with solid, sensible, achievable advice for all of us.

  13. Max Torini

    Im sorry to hear about the stroke and brain tumor at the same time, that must of been tough. I learnt alot from this article, great read. Keep on trucking! you inspire me

  14. Gary R

    This article is so uplifting as it shows how a husband-wife team can effectively run a home-based business. I am presently disabled and do a few small tasks from home; my spouse also works for this company taking phone calls. I just envision that one day we could possibly join together; work as a team!

  15. austin

    A very helpful and inspiring article. The hints and tips are especially helpful noting that each person has different skills.

  16. Debra Owens

    I know that you have enough wisdom and glory to succeed until that day that God does want you!
    Stay strong and true!
    You will see Gods kingdom someday!

  17. Nicolas

    This story really got to me. My parents ran a business together, which created so much stress that my Mom left my Dad, but the business is running well at least. So to read this really touches me. I’m glad that even though there were obstacles for you both, you hanged in there and got through the messes. Bravo.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.