Generations ago, staying home with the kids meant a life of housework and homework. Today, it’s likely to include conference calls, invoicing and paychecks, as more women discover the perks of being a work-at-home mom. If you’ve been considering starting your own home-based business, here are seven important tips to keep in mind.
1. Find the right job. If you already have a career in mind, or your current boss has agreed to a telecommuting arrangement, then lucky you! But if you’re not sure what sort of at-home job to pursue, do some research to find a good match for your interests and skills. Websites such as WAHM.com, HBWM.com and RatRaceRebellion.com are excellent resources for “mompreneurs.”
Among the many home-based business options available today are virtual call center and office assistant jobs, social media management, catalog sales, blogging and data entry. Or consider turning a hobby you love, such as photography or jewelry making, into a career.
2. Beware of scams. Steer clear of any company that asks for an up-front fee (although virtual call centers do require a small payment for background checks). Work-at-home expert Christine Durst, co-founder of RatRaceRebellion.com, also warns against clicking links on Facebook threads from people promising business opportunities (“Earn $7,000 a month!”). These are usually recruiters from shady pyramid scheme companies.
3. Know the costs. Depending on your line of work, you’ll probably need to invest in supplies such as shipping materials or software upgrades. Do your homework before you begin to make sure your new job won’t break your budget. If your start-up costs are high, look into options such as small business loans or even a crowdfunding campaign.
And it may take a while before you see a profit, so set aside enough savings to see you through the lean times. “There’s a real misconception out there that you can slap up a blog or start doing direct sales and money will pour in,” says Kelly Land, founder of MoneyMakingMommy.com. “Ask yourself: Can I do this around my current job so I’ll still have an income, or is there another source of income to keep us going while I do this?”
4. Take your job seriously. Just because you’re not putting on high heels in the morning doesn’t mean you’re not working. Set regular hours and stick to them, even if it means letting the housework slide or putting a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your home office door.
5. Have a child care plan. While the point of being a WAHM is being there for your kids, it still pays to have a good support system just in case. A trusted sitter, loving grandparents or a reliable friend can be a lifesaver when you’re dealing with deadlines and a restless toddler all at once.
6. Be prepared to lose sleep. Between work responsibilities and kids’ activity schedules, many work-at-home moms find that their work day is a lot longer than the eight-hour norm. “Getting up before everyone and staying up later was the only way I could stay on track and get things accomplished,” says Land. “A lot of times, I’d just nap when the kids did.”7. Find time to unwind. Running a business and a family can be stressful, so don’t forget to put some me time in your day. “For me, gaming is how I relieve stress,” says Land. “I have one friend who goes out and weeds when things get crazy, and another who can’t live without her weekly facial. The key is to find a healthy