The following is a guest post from Gwen Payne of InvisibleMoms.com.
After a few years as a stay-at-home mom, you’re ready to start earning real money again. There’s just one problem: you’re not ready to go back to the office. Whether it’s the high price of childcare, the challenges of juggling a 9-to-5 with motherhood, or a desire for better work-life balance, there are lots of reasons why women prefer to work from home.
Unfortunately, finding a remote job with flexible hours, good pay, and a family-friendly employer is like finding a needle in a haystack. Under these circumstances, it’s no surprise that more women are striking out on their own: According to The State of Women-Owned Businesses report, the number of women-owned businesses skyrocketed to more than 11.6 million in recent years.
But while it’s one thing to have a side hustle as a stay-at-home mom, starting a full-blown business is a totally different beast. Is it possible to manage a business and raise a family at the same time, or do women really have to choose between staying home and achieving financial independence?
At The Mama Marketer, you know I’m all about encouraging women to achieve their goals. To that end, here are my best tips for succeeding as a work-at-home mompreneur!
Save before you start
Banks aren’t exactly racing to issue small business loans to first-time entrepreneurs. So how can you pay for business equipment, inventory, and other startup costs?
Start by identifying the bare bones essentials you need to start a business and setting a savings goal. Then, set a budget, cut costs, and pay down debt to get financially ready to start a business. You might even be able to sell things around the house for extra money. (For moms who have clothing they need to offload for a bit of extra cash, I recommend Poshmark!)
Freelance to gain experience
No wiggle room in your budget? Freelancing is a great way to earn money and gain experience at the same time. In addition to developing a portfolio and client roster in your industry, freelancing is a crash course in what it’s like to be self-employed.
Plan for early cash flow
Bootstrapping business owners can’t afford to wait years for their first paycheck. When starting a business with financial independence in mind, build early cash flow into your plan.
Businesses with early cash flow make money right away without a ton of up-front time and investment. Examples include service-based businesses, consulting, digital marketing, web and graphic design, and catering. While a bit slower to generate revenue, e-commerce is another great option for home-based entrepreneurs seeking a low-cost business model.
Use a virtual assistant
If all goes well, it won’t be long until your new business is inundated with work. However, with more work comes more back-office responsibilities like invoicing, bookkeeping, and customer service.
Virtual assistants are a cost-effective solution for solopreneurs who need an extra hand. Since virtual assistants work through agencies or as independent contractors, they don’t come with the same responsibilities as a regular employee. With lower costs and less paperwork, what’s not to love?
Know when (and how) to hire
Eventually you’ll need permanent staff for your business. But how do you know when it’s the right time? Hiring too soon is a fatal mistake for small businesses, yet waiting too long can be equally problematic.
First set your business’s goals for the next 6 to 18 months, then work backwards to assess what you need to accomplish. Do you have the capacity to meet your goals? If not, what are your most pressing needs?
You might not need expensive HR software if only hiring a couple of employees. However, you do need a system for tracking payroll hours. A well-formatted Excel spreadsheet does the job on a shoestring budget. Learn more about creating a timesheet spreadsheet to record hours and earnings.
Invest in the right tech
As a home-based entrepreneur, odds are most of your hires will be remote. To collaborate effectively without wasting hours on back-and-forth communication, you need a technology stack that supports distributed teams.
Budget-conscious business owners are in luck here: Thanks to the proliferation of subscription-based software, it’s easier than ever to afford tools that allow you to streamline and scale. In fact, for most businesses today, the biggest challenge isn’t finding affordable software — it’s knowing which apps to choose!
You don’t need an expensive office, a big staff, or a ton of money to start a business that gives you financial independence. With a home-based business, you can get the flexibility you need as a work-at-home parent plus the potential to grow.
Are you running a business as a stay-at-home parent? Share your best tips and tricks for making it work in the comments!