How to Be a Work at Home Mom
Whether you have small children and don’t want to place them in daycare or your kids are older and you’d like the flexibility to attend events and be present, either way, finding a career as a work-at-home mom can be challenging, but the payoff is priceless.
Take some honest self-inventory and decide if you have the right mindset for a home business owner or telecommuter. Working out of your home appears easy enough, but unless you’re disciplined, detail oriented and self-motivated, it may not be the best fit. Be brutally honest with yourself when deciding what to do, as discovering an err in judgement can be much more detrimental after you’re in the thick of a business or new job.
Once you’ve decided you can hack the lifestyle, it’s time to identify what exactly you’ll be doing. It’s best to choose an industry/cause/product/service you’re passionate about since, in the case of starting a business, you’ll likely not make much of a salary in the first year. Choosing to do something you’d likely take part in as a hobby or on a volunteer basis will help curb the frustrations that might arise in the first months of business. Taking a job as an employee who works from a home office has the benefit of salary immediacy. You’ll probably be paid on a schedule just as you would if you commuted to another location.
Implement a plan
A business plan need not be complex, but every work-at-home mom with her own business should create one. A good plan helps outline how you’ll execute your business on a day-to-day basis. It includes some calculations, including how much start-up costs you might incur and when you can expect to break even. It should be something you refer to often, to keep focus on what your expectations are from your business. Plus, a business plan is usually required when applying for small business financing or loans.
Whether you’ve applied for a work-at-home job with a resume and cover letter or you’ve decided to take the leap into business ownership, the most important (and sometimes scariest) step is beginning. The first day on the job or as CEO of Mom, LLC can be daunting, but without it, there’s no chance of success.
Market, market and then market some more
A small business owner can never do too much marketing. Take advantage of every opportunity to advertise yourself to everyone and anyone you come in contact with. Whether it’s with fellow moms, doctors or bank employees, drop a business mention into the conversation. Some people won’t act on it, but others certainly will. Good word-of-mouth advertising isn’t a commodity you can buy, it’s earned through establishing a good reputation and its value is priceless.
Keep meticulous records
Businesses and contractors need to keep organized and thorough files and records for a variety of reasons. Tax time can prove stressful and costly when you don’t maintain proper accounting of finances. Customer records and other private information should be kept secure or destroyed to protect any chance of your clients falling victim to identity theft. Don’t mix personal paperwork and bills in with business files, as it can cause major mix-ups and can be disastrous.
Prepare the family
Most people assume working from home is a cinch and that now Mom has tons of time to do all the things she never could when she worked outside the home–wrong. Mom still has a job, but her office is now at home rather than a 30 minute commute away. Kids may feel slighted or bored because they see Mom, but she’s busy. It takes some time to incorporate flexibility that the family can understand and enjoy. Planning ahead and preparing activities for those bumps in the road can help fend off tantrums and hurt feelings.
It’s essential to schedule work into your day when you work at home. So you can maintain some balance of work, family, errands and other duties that clutter up the weeks. But, it’s also crucial to a work-at-home Mom’s sanity to schedule “Mom” time, too. Working at home can seem isolating at times and getting out of the surrounding four walls, can make all the difference. Have dates with yourself; go to the bookstore, do some shopping, meet a friend for coffee or take a nap. Just like with any job, sometimes you need to step away, rejuvenate and recharge. If Mom’s happy, most likely so will everyone else.
Check online for a variety of work-at-home business opportunities and ideas, like freelance, upwork, gift baskets, personalized candy wrappers or medical/legal transcription; If you’re outgoing, love talking to people and motivated, try joining a direct sales company. If the budget allows, invest in a laptop and wireless Internet connection. That way, you can take your computer almost anywhere and still work away.
Beware of work-at-home scams. It’s highly unlikely you’ll make $5,000 a month stuffing envelopes. So, if your intuition and common sense tell you something, pay attention and proceed with caution.