Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Another Q&A

At least somebody likes to keep me talking. Here's her question:

Hello there Dollymama! I come seeking your wisdom yet again. How in the world do moms who want to homeschool start up home based businesses? Alas, I am not the most creative of people.

Good question!

I think that homeschooling is a huge, huge undertaking. It requires so much focus, thought, and engagement on the part of the mother (or primary teacher--usually the mother). Even if you do "relaxed" homeschooling, you have to do a lot of mind work.

Having a home-based business can be anything from a minor to a major part of your life, depending on what you're doing and what your goals are. An entrepreneurial pursuit can really take over your life, your house, and your energy. When I had just one child that was 1 or 2 years old I sold Tupperware, with the goal being to earn enough money to be helpful to my family. It was something I worked on most days, most of the day. That whole "just two parties a week" thing is nonsense. You have to work a lot more than that to get and maintain and prepare for two parties.... Now that I've had internet-based businesses for over 2 years I can tell you that it takes more money, time, thought, and energy than I expected. I enjoy it mostly, but it does tend to crowd out other things.

So, although a lot of homeschool families also do home businesses, I think it's a mighty tough combination. Of the homeschool families I know of that also have home businesses, I have heard a wide range of comments about it. The families with young children that need schooling seem to be truly struggling and wondering if it's worth it. The families that seem to be succeeding more and enjoying it more are ones with most of their children in high school or older, and they delegate a lot of their business and homeschooling tasks to older children. The few people I know of that have little ones and succeed in their business seem to be extremely, EXTREMELY organized and principled with the way they spend their time and keep different parts of their life separate.

It seems to take quite awhile to build a successful business. Nobody wants to believe that their entrepreneurial idea is going to not turn a profit for 3-5 years like the stats tell them, but it's usually true. If you need to make money NOW, starting something from scratch probably isn't the way to go for you. If you want to build up to something and have the time without financial pressure, planting some home business seeds and tending to them faithfully will probably work better.

If you start your business at a point in your life when you have things basically under control, that will probably work best. Once you've got your life running smoothly, you can figure out a way to fit in a home based business. As you add children or new responsibilities you can probably find ways to work everything into the mix. One good thing about starting a business when you need the money less is that later on as you grow your business and your home/family/homeschool responsibilities expand, you will probably have the business income to be able to afford to outsource some of your duties. For instance, you can hire assistants to do basic web maintenance, send out newsletters, set up link exchanges, find new products for you to sell, or find new places to sell your product. You can also find people to help you run your business, develop products, and so on. There are a zillion angles to this thing, so once the business is running, your options will expand.

Now that I've rained on your parade, let me tell you some good news. There is a TON of great information on the internet and SO many ways to earn money and use your talents from home. It is very encouraging to me and exciting to keep learning and finding out about other ways to reach people and expand on my ideas.

Figuring out what kind of business to have can be tough. It really helps to figure out something that you really care about and have genuine passion for. Head lice isn't exactly a glamorous subject, but I really, really cared about preventing head lice and knew others would respond to that. Sometimes things just kind of pop into our radar and we care about it so much that we turn it into a business. Others figure out services they can provide from home. I recently learned about some great new ebooks that give tons of information about some very popular home based businesses, including what skills and equipment you need to start, how to price your service or product, how to set up web sites and find customers, and lots more. You can check these out here:

Candy Wrapper Business

Medical Transcription

Mystery Shopper

Transcription Business

There is SO much information on this subject, I have only barely touched the surface here. There are a lot of ways to start and maintain a business, lots of reasons for having one. Ask me some more questions if you have 'em!

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