Archive for June, 2008

Life of a work-at-home-mom

Ever had one of these days?

This is just typical here in my household. I have regular office hours each week when I have a sitter care for the children while I work. Other times, I hop on the computer to get a couple of small tasks accomplished. When I’m working at the computer, I encourage the kids to entertain themselves for a while.

Well, today was a banner day. My daughter kept bringing me the shaving cream to squirt a little bit on her hand. So I’d give her a squirt and send her off to play. No big deal since shaving cream mostly evaporates whenever it gets rubbed onto something (like the walls, floor, clothes, etc.). Eventually I heard my two boys join her in the bathroom and they started squirting the shaving cream for her. Then the laughter started. Lots of it. It got louder and louder. I kept working in the computer across the hall without checking in on them, knowing there would be hell to pay in terms of clean-up, but also enjoying their fun from a distance. When I walked into the bathroom, this is what I saw:

 

My children were bathing in shaving cream, creating a slip ‘n’ slide in our bathroom, laughing their little backsides off!

In the end, I got enough work done, they had practiced “playing independently,” and I got some great photographs that make us all laugh.

Four easy steps to finding new clients

If you’re one of the legions of women out there running home-based businesses, chances are that at some point, you’ve hit the wall with regards to finding new clients. You’ve had lunches, parties, coffees, get-togethers with every friend, relative and neighbor you can think of. You know that you’ve asked everyone you personally know to either buy your goods and services or to refer someone they think might benefit from them. When you’ve exhausted your inner circle, where do you go to get more clients?

Most of the direct sales companies have a ton of training and coaching to help you figure out where to find your clients. Chances are, you already know how to do all those things, but still are finding it hard to just get started again. It’s time to get outside of your inner circle of friends, but that also means getting out of your comfort zone. And that can be a little tough, since it means facing rejection, etc. But it’s also where all the possibilities for growing your business are!

Here are four easy steps you can take to finding more clients and growing your business:

1) Make sure you know who your target market is. You need to know exactly who your customers will be, where they shop, what they buy, what they read, what’s most important and most challenging for them, etc. Is your product or service something that mothers of young children would buy? Or is it something that would benefit professionals who have recently been laid off or down-sized? By clarifying who your ideal clients are, you’ll be better able to determine the next step: how to reach them.

2) Get in front of those potential customers–this can be asking friends/family for introductions to others, or attending a conference/tradeshow/event (like International Women’s Conference, a job fair, etc.) where your target audience might be, or joining groups that your target audience is a part of (professional networking groups like Chambers of Commerce, online groups like facebook or LinkedIn, playgroups, health clubs, whatever) so you can get exposure to these people and build trust and rapport with them. And when you’re in these situations, ASK FOR THE BUSINESS! “Do you know anyone who might be willing to host a party…?” or “Can you think of someone who could benefit from …(your offering here)…?” Yes, this approach takes time, but your business development is a continual process and building your network will yield the results you want. People love to buy from people they like, know, and trust.

3) Find a friend, colleague, buddy or a coach to support you in your business. If you’re doing it all alone, chances are you have little support and less accountability with regards to achieving the results you want. When you’re pushing yourself to go beyond what’s already comfortable and familiar to you, it makes sense to get some support so you don’t get overwhelmed and give up. If you can partner with someone who knows your goals and the two of you can support each other, it makes getting out there and doing the tough stuff so much easier!

4) Find an ally. For instance, if you’re a yoga instructor looking to expand your client base, you might find your next 20 clients by partnering with a wellness facility, an organic farm co-op, a health and nutrition store, or a fitness center. This doesn’t have to be any “formal” business partnership. Request an introduction to the manager/owner of the organization, set up an informational interview, and discuss the benefits you could both receive from referring clients back and forth to each other. Consider offering a discount or a bonus to clients that come from this alliance.

Are you trying to find new clients? Tell us your strategy. What was the best source of new clients you found?

Delicate balance: mothers in business

As a mother of three children under six years old who owns her own company, I spend a lot of time doing one thing while thinking I “should” be doing another. Sometimes I’m building Legos with the kids and I’ll remember I’m on deadline for something I’m writing. Other times I’m sitting at the computer responding to a client or doing research on my target audience, only to have a nagging feeling that I should be back downstairs drawing silly sketches or playing hide and seek with the kids.And I know I’m not alone. Mothers in business, “mompreneurs”, have particular challenges when it comes to the issue of balancing business and babies. Without question, priority #1 is my family. I chose to be a mother a while back and have no doubt that this is exactly who I am supposed to be. But my journey to become a mother who also has a fulfilling career has been a not-so-graceful dance between passion, commitment, ambition, guilt, joy and inspiration. Can we truly have it all?

I’m collecting thoughts, witticisms, rants and such from women who are the primary caretakers of their family and who own their own businesses or who want to return to work but feel conflicted about it. If this describes you, please post your comments here.

Some questions to ponder:

  1. Why do you (want to) work?
  2. What are your biggest challenges as a mother/business owner?
  3. Does your husband/significant other support your choice to pursue a career?
  4. Does your work satisfy you? If so, why?
  5. What do you have to sacrifice to be a “mompreneur”?
  6. What is the most gratifying part of your work?
  7. What inspires you?
  8. What do you hope to teach your children by being a mother/business owner?
  9. What does “success” mean to you?

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Thinking of starting a home-based business? Careful…

If you’ve been entertaining this thought, chances are you’ve met various women who sell Arbonne, Mary Kay, Pampered Chef, Creative Memories, to name a few home-based businesses targeted at SAHMs. These are all great businesses–I personally know and/or have coached women in these kinds of direct sales businesses who love their work. But is direct sales for you?

There are as many possibilities for self-employment as you can imagine. But to start with, what compels you to want to work? Is it something you need to do, want to do, feel you should do, or a combination? And what do you need from your work–flexibility, time off, high income potential, low investment, security, working by yourself or as part of a team…?

You can sign up for any of a huge number of home-based businesses geared towards SAHMs, but if you want to be happy, satisfied, and successful, you should probably start by figuring out what it is you want. Not just what job you want, but what that job would get you, such as: a break from mommyhood, some spending money, an outlet for your creativity or self-expression, the opportunity to contribute to the family, some adult interaction, financial security, etc.

Once you know what you want (i.e., what motivates you), it will narrow down your choices and help you choose a business that meets your conditions of satisfaction. I would make sure that the work you choose to do fits in with your family values and supports your commitments to your spouse/significant other. Otherwise, you could create some issues in a part of your life that might not already exist.

Are you a consultant for one of the above-mentioned direct sales companies? If so, please tell us a little about yourself and why you love/don’t love your job. It would help to understand what motivated you to start your business and whether it is meeting your expectations now.

So you wanna be a mompreneur?

So there you are, at home with the kids, cleaning up after the third snack of the day, stepping over the Legos structures you and your kids made (and aren’t you proud of the one you built?), prepping for dinner, checking over homework and reminding those little humans of yours to please flush and wash your hands… You are moving through the routines that are your life now as a mother. Occasionally you drift off and remember that “other time” when all of “this” wasn’t “normal”.

Back in the day, life was different. Your routine included getting up in the morning when the alarm went off, getting a shower (each and everyday), making coffee and chewing on a toasted bagel while you woke up slowly. Then you dressed in clothes that were clean and ironed, got in the car and went to work, and you used up a whole bunch of brainpower and called up your vast wisdom, knowledge and experience and gave it to your career.

Maybe you loved your job; maybe not. It might have fueled and satisfied your amibition, passion and talent; or it might have been a way to earn a paycheck that you could spend doing the stuff you love to do outside of work.

Either way, chances are you’ve thought about working again since you’ve become a mom. Having children certainly resets our priorities. If you’re currently a stay-at-home-mom, you chose this role because you wanted the chance to literally watch your kids grow up. Working in a nine-to-five corporate job would have made that impossible. You need flexibility and an agenda you set yourself that allows you to make your family your priority.

If you’ve been thinking of starting your own business, you’re not alone. More and more moms are taking their brilliant ideas and their hard-earned knowledge and applying themselves as entrepreneurs. To find out just how many, and whether you’re ready to be one yourself, read the following article from entrepreneur.com.

So you wanna be a mompreneur? –from entrepreneur.com

 

Have you been thinking about starting your business? Wanna bounce some ideas around and see how they’re received? Are you getting overwhelmed by all there is to know about setting up and running a business? Please share your thoughts here. Maybe all you need is a little support to get started. No matter what, a solid goal and an action plan to get you there are required. And you CAN do it–just in baby steps. Feel free to write and tell me where you are with your business!

 


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