If you are a work at home mom, this is a problem you will battle. I have people all the time ask me how to balance work and family, and life in general. You see, when you go to work, after eight or so hours you pack up and go home to your family. It is like stepping from one life into another, the lines are clear.
Working from home however is a very different story. First of all, you live where you work, so work is much harder to walk away from. It is so much easier to do one more thing, but those one more things add up. Before you know it, you begin to feel like a slave to your business. We rationalize that if we just get up earlier, stay up later, we will be able to get all those things done. Pretty soon, we feel like zombies. Do you feel like I am reading your mail?
No, I have not been sneaking around watching you, but I have lived that life, and to be perfectly honest, still have to fight the inclination to do one more thing. I do get up awfully early, but I have been able to teach myself to just walk away.
I know that when you are the boss, you have to wear all the hats. The struggle is to decide what things are not critical. That is really hard, I know. The reality is, it is, when you evaluate what is really important, it is the time you have with your family. That is a limited commodity, so making them your top priority is what has to happen.
Why Do You Want to Own A Business
I know that I have argued that I did not want to own a business, I just wanted to create a job that I could do at home. That sounds great, but unless you have landed work that you do for someone else who will let you do it at home, you are going to become a business owner. I do know that in recent years there are companies who allow employee’s do their work at home and believe me when I tell you it is long past time. The problem is finding those companies and convincing them that you are the person they need. If you are one of the lucky ones, then you need to read no farther. If you are reading this sentence, I am going to assume that you are working for yourself.
The first thing you have to honestly answer is what you are looking for. For me and I bet for a lot of you, I just want to be able to generate some money to help with our family budget. It may be helping make it through the month with necessities, or having the cash to be able to afford some of the luxuries. Ultimately it can be both.
Notice the use of the word ultimately. The dictionary defines that word like this “last; furthest or farthest; ending a process or series”. I did not use that word because it has more that a couple of syllables. I used it because if your primary purpose is to earn money working from home, you have to decide how much. You also have to be realistic. In the beginning, if your kids are young, and you are the primary care giver, that is your primary job. If that is the case, you might really need to aim at generating enough money to help your family pay your monthly bills and leave it at that for now.
Then, you grow your business as your kids grow. When they are in school, some of your time is freed up to work more hours and make additional money. I can imagine some of you are getting frustrated with me about now. I apologize, but I promise you that these are hard learned lessons I have learned along the way. There were times when I lost sight of that and made the mistake of misplacing my priorities. I opted to keep doing that one more thing when my time would have been so much better spent making a nice dinner for my family, or doing something fun with the kids.
So, what is the purpose of all this, okay, I am getting to that.
What does it take to make your business run?
All businesses have some things in common. If it is a business, it has money come in and money go out. Keeping track of the coming and going of the cash is bookkeeping and it is a critical component. In order to create that cash flow, a product or service has to be offered and delivered. There has to be a market who wants that product or service. That market has to be aware of the product or service. All of these components are key to a business, large or small.
The problem is each of those elements take time to do well, and time is limited. The solution may be taking one or more of those elements and delegating it to someone else. If keeping track of the books and doing the paperwork is not your thing, outsourcing may be the answer. (In the early stages of your business simply having a dedicated bank account that is strictly used for business can simplify the bookkeeping significantly and save you time). You can read more about that in the post about start up business bookkeeping.
Making the market aware of a product or service can be purchased, but unless you have a big chunk of cash, it might not be effective. That said, finding a college student or another stay at home mom who loves social media could be very affordable and possibly much more effective. Consistency is key to a social media campaign.
I have written about the importance and advantage of having a website and therefore a blog. I am not going to repeat that here, but want to give you a link to that for more information.
Creating the product or service is one thing that you can’t outsource. I am assuming that you are very good at what you do.The problem that so many of us have is we lack the confidence we need to charge what our product or service is really worth. I am telling you that undercharging is the biggest mistake so many of us make. So what to do?
Create Perceived Value
Let me give you a scenario that can be adjusted to whatever it is you are doing. Meet Susie. She is a very talented cake decorator. She does not merely put flowers and scallops on her cakes, she creates cakes that are embellished with fondant characters realistic enough to be used in a claymation movie. Everyone who sees her cakes wants one.
Soon the demand for her cakes keeps her working so many hours she often feels like she can not take another step. She started making cakes so she could earn a little extra money so she could pay for a trip to Disney World for her family next year when the kids got a little older. Now the orders are coming in fast and furious, and the Disney trip is secured but the orders are almost more than she can physically handle and all of a sudden creating the cakes is less fun than it used to be.
What is a girl to do? Well, she can do some things to be more efficient. She can make a supply of normal cakes and had freeze them. Then she can frost the cake and put simple decorations on it. That could be the life blood of her business. Having things made in advance so she can turn out a number of cakes in a day will keep a steady flow of cash flowing, and still let her have time for her family. Then, she can limit the number of specialty cakes she will take orders for in a week.
She now has put the law of supply and demand into play. Using that law gives her the the ability to charge a LOT more for her cakes. She has the cakes that don’t take too much time for a lower price, but her famous cakes are premium priced. Sure some will walk away and choose not to pay the higher price, or they may still make a purchase of one of the less expensive cakes. Other customers will pay premium prices to have the cake that will put the smile on their loved ones face, or make them the hit with their friends. Charging premium prices lets her work less for more money. Working less puts her in control of her time and she can enjoy her family and her work. As she earns more money, she can afford to outsource more of the other components of her business.
They say the school of hard knocks is the best teacher, you should see all the bumps on my head from those knocks. I am just trying to share lessons I have learned along the way. Have confidence in you and the things you create or the services you provide, do your best work and give great service and realize you deserve to be compensated well. If you feel like that is kind of arrogant, keep in mind why you are working in the first place, your family is your focus.