Career Development

Small Business Guilt

Have you ever been at your business and your spouse calls to say, “You’ve been at work for 12 hours. When are you coming home?” You catch yourself glancing at your watch — it’s 7pm and you’re not even close to getting done with your workload. You say to your spouse, “I’ll be home in a little bit… right after I finish a few more things.”

When you hang up the phone, you wish you could just throw your hands up and walk out to see your family, but reality sets in. How will the bills be paid? Who is going to pay my mortgage? How can I buy supplies? When will I have the time to see my children and sweetheart? You decide to complete one more task and head on home. You find yourself so happy on the drive to see your family after a long day of work. You are greeted with smiling faces, hugs, kisses and a reheated meal that was prepared over 3 hours ago — but nonetheless you are happy to be home. As soon as you sit down to start eating, you start to think about all the things you didn’t complete today. If only you could have stayed at work for another hour or two and you would have been done. Here it is: GUILT!!!

There are 28 million small businesses in the U.S., and guess what? You are not the only one out there that feels guilty when you are at work and away from the family, or alternatively, when you are with the family and not at work. Without knowing it, you have two spouses; one is work, while the other is your wife/husband.

You want to cringe when you hear someone say, “I clock out at 5pm, and I don’t worry about anything when I’m at home.” As a business owner, it is very difficult to leave your challenges at work. The great news is there is hope and a solution to our constant feelings of guilt. I will share with you the secrets I’ve heard over the last twenty years from other small business owners. Keep in mind this is NOT a cure for guilt, but only a treatment for the feeling.

  1. Live in the moment! During work hours, focus 100% on being at work by listening to every word that an employee, customer or supplier is telling you. For example, you can do this by telling a team member, “Can you please watch the phones for me for the next 3 minutes while I speak to our customer?”
  2. Have your spouse call you every day at a prearranged time in order to give you a 30 minute notice that it is time to leave. This will prevent your spouse from feeling that he/she is pestering you at work and reduce the frustration that you are being interrupted from completing a task. These 30 minutes also give you the time you need to start finishing up your tasks.
  3. Lastly, when you are at home, imagine this was your last minute or hour on earth. Picture how you would want to listen to everything that was being said by your wife/husband and your beautiful children. Take a deep breath and smell the wonderful food on the kitchen table, take in the smiles on your children’s faces and absorb the whole experience as if you were a sponge.

Live in the moment and your business guilt will be gone!!!!!


Joseph Semprevivo is the CEO/President of Joseph’s Lite Cookies the global manufacturer of Sugar-Free Cookies, desserts, syrups, and sweeteners. Joseph has a BBA from NMSU in Marketing, BBA in Managerial Leadership, and a Master of Science in International Real Estate from FIU. Joseph’s book, Madness, Miracles, Millions is a National Award Winning and Best Selling Book. The book is the family story and history behind the creation of Joseph’s Lite Cookies. The story is not just history but engaging and an inspiration at every page for entrepreneurs at any age. Currently, Joseph’s Lite Cookies is introducing new items each year, and his cookie are now in 42 countries and reaches 140,000 stores across the United-States.

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