At Home Column #3 Run Your Home Like a Business!

I write a fortnightly column for At Home - the Premier UK celebrity and lifestyle magazine, and this one appeared on their site a month ago. Do visit their website and leave me a comment on the post there so they get to see your opinions!

Have you ever heard of a Managing Director getting onto their hands and knees to scrub ketchup out of the carpet? Or maybe the Head of Marketing stopping during a presentation to discipline a subordinate for shouting “Poo”? I have. It happens every day in our house, *oops* “firm”.

Seriously, I used to think I worked hard doing 12 hours a day in Public Relations, but the business world is no match for the business of being a Mum! Over the 8 years I’ve been doing it, I’ve seen many similarities in home making and the world of commerce, so over this time I’ve developed ways to apply business solutions to my little home team as a way of making order out of the chaos! Here are my best tips...

First challenge – keeping them in line!

In the business world, incentives are regularly used to keep employees motivated and performing well. A company I used to work for took the top sales performers on a booze cruise or to Dubai for doing well, and the prospect of a nice jolly away from the office did wonders in producing the right attitude at work. So I have developed my own little incentive scheme in the form of a “Lucky Dip” box! Every time we visit McDonalds, I take the toy out of their Happy Meal, before they see it. I reckon that a meal out is a treat enough, so my kids don’t expect a toy too. I put these little toys into my Lucky Dip box then whenever I want to incentivise good behaviour, I promise them a dip in the box when we get home. The Lucky Dip box is a real treat and they love to rummage through and choose a new toy. Plus, it hasn’t cost me anything extra as I already had the toys! Try this – it works wonders!!

Challenge Two – Know Your Bottom Line:

In other words, know how much you are prepared to give before the deal on the table becomes unworkable for you. So the kids want a later bed time but you want some peace and quiet sooner, so offer an extra 10 minutes of play if you know you are willing to allow 30 minutes. This gives you room for manoeuver. Also consider extra incentives that you can use to sweeten the deal of going to bed on time. If they go now, they get to watch a DVD in bed for 20 minutes or they can play in their room for a bit. My daughter has become an expert negotiator which stands her in excellent stead for when she is unleashed into the working world, as she can spot a win-win deal at 20 paces! We were at the supermarket last week when she spotted a £2 headband. She doesn’t need it, but it caught her eye and she liked it, so I asked what she was prepared to give to get that headband. Based on the price tag, I decided that it was worth 2 household chores to earn the money, so we shook on the deal and she has to fold the laundry and tidy up downstairs before that headband becomes hers. She might be wearing it now but really that headband is mortgaged! She doesn’t fully own it yet!

Challenge Three: Eliminate Waste to get ‘More Bang for your Buck’!

Think of your kitchen as the engine room to your home. It produces the goods that keep the rest of the family working, but it can also be the room with the biggest cost wastage. When unused food is thrown out for being past its best and overspending occurs on luxury items, the kitchen can affect your homes’ balance sheet. So like any good restauranter, do a stock check and apply stock rotation, so the newest items are placed at the back of the cupboards and you use the oldest first. Getting the most out of your stock is good home economics, so look at how you can use every bit. I was in a cafe over the weekend and they sold delicious home-made cakes by the slice. By the till they had a box of ‘cake ends’ priced at £1.95 (a slice of cake was £1.85) but this box had a variety of cake flavours and it was just the off cuts – the bits that didn’t look ‘perfect’. I thought it was very enterprising of them to use every resource rather than just eating the off cuts themselves!!

Being the Chief Jugglista in your home is not just about ‘doing’ it all, but developing strategies to get it all done. If you apply some business thinking to your home, you can keep the plates spinning and even find some time to yourself! What are your thoughts on running your home like a business? Drop me a comment at the original article!

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