Mother's Day is coming up -- the perfect day to take a few moments to reflect on your personal and professional lives. Are you seeking a better balance between the two? Then the time might be right to start a home business.
"How do I start?" is the question we get asked most often by potential work-from-home'ers. What we discovered is that more than 70 percent of mothers launch a home business based on past experience, and the most successful are those who tap their talents or convert their skills into a work-at-home career. So before you answer any ads or invest any money in "home business opportunities," think about your strengths and passions.
Service-oriented businesses such as desktop publishing, event planning, accounting, Web design and tutoring are the least expensive to start and the most popular today. Anything geared towards senior citizens or parents of young children is also in demand.
Your special skill or talent is just one of the "job requirements" necessary to become a successful work-from-home'er. Here are some of the others we feel are important to consider before you open for business:
- SELF-DISCIPLINE. As your own boss, you must have the motivation to get started, work independently and stay focused every day despite distractions from kids.
- THE ABILITY TO SHIFT GEARS OFTEN. To gain freedom, you have to be more flexible. That means dropping your nine-to-five mindset and working in spurts, fitting business around your family's schedule.
- A KNACK FOR NETWORKING. Working from home often means working in isolation, but it's important to keep in touch. Participate in online chats and message boards to exchange ideas, schedule lunches with colleagues or other home-based working mothers and join professional groups in your field of work. Trade shows, conferences, adult ed courses and your town's chamber of commerce are other networking possibilities.
- GOOD ORGANIZATIONAL SKILLS. Know how to plan your time and organize your work space efficiently to accommodate the dual roles of mommy and businesswoman. If you have child care, use the time you're covered to meet with clients, make important phone calls or do work that requires lots of concentration.
- PROFESSIONALISM. Always project a professional image -- even if you're working in sweatpants with Barbie dolls, action figures and other toys scattered all over your office floor! If the kids are screaming in the background and you're expecting a business call, use an answering system to pick it up and return the call when you can sound more "businesslike."
- A SENSE OF HUMOR. Be prepared to laugh at all the silly things that can happen when your children are in and out of your workspace every day.