What it takes to run a home-based business
By Doreen Nagle
More than 10 million moms (and countless dads) have decided to start their own businesses from home so they can devote more time to being with their children while taking this challenging economy into their own hands. Have you thought about following in their footsteps? Here are some considerations to help you decide if a home-based business is for you (adapted from my book, "But I Don't Feel Too Old to Be a Mommy!).
Not sure you have the motivation and organization to keep it all together? The first thing you need to know about running a home business is to know yourself.
Can you flow from one task to another easily? For instance, can you segue from a business phone call to making breakfast for your little ones to sending e-mails and supervising finger painting without getting discombobulated or frazzled?
How do you handle unexpected interruptions in your routine? Flexibility is a major asset when practicing entrepreneurship. Can you handle fluctuating priorities?
Do you respect your own schedule enough not to sabotage yourself? Unplanned parenting duties aside (sick child, etc., if you do not respect the schedule you set up for yourself, no one else will; family, friends and others take their cue from you. Just because you are "home" doesn't mean you are available for long coffee breaks anytime someone suggests it. A polite but firm. "Thanks, but I am working now" will establish your credibility.
Planning on running the whole show by yourself? While you may not need full-time childcare, what about the idea of hiring a teenager after school for a few hours to keep your child occupied while you catch up on paperwork? Or employ the opposite: Use the teen to file your paperwork while you play with your child.
Are you organized? If not, consider spending the money on a professional organizer to put a routine in place. It pays for itself by freeing up your time to be with your family more or get to the end of a work project sooner.
Are you self-motivated and disciplined? Can you assign yourself a workable time frame with goals in mind? Can you accomplish those goals with a minimum of distraction?
Take time for yourself. Put a separation between your work self and your parenting self. One idea is to take a breather between the two parts of your day about the length of a short commute. Do only what is necessary at that time; otherwise you are hands-off to clients as well as family members. If you don't care for yourself physically, emotionally and spiritually, you won't be successful at any other part of your life.
Hang onto a sense of humor.
Starting your own home-based business is an opportunity to do what you've always felt you wanted to do rather than what you've always done. Stuck for an idea of what business to start from home? More than 70 percent of home-based businesses are entrepreneurs turning a former career into a new niche. Still stuck? Confer with a career counselor who specializes in home businesses.
Doreen Nagle is author of "But I Don't Feel Too Old to Be a Mommy!" (HCI).