When I think back to before I came home to work and take care of my new son, I remember how “stuck” I felt. I envied other women and men who had their own businesses and I believed that the only reason that I didn’t have one was because I lacked the motivation.
No, actually that wasn’t the only reason. Now that I think about it, I had a whole list of why I couldn’t be my own boss: I didn’t think I could hold myself accountable if I didn’t have a boss, I was sure I’d never get out of my pajamas during the day, I was afraid I might blow off all the work I was supposed to do and I’d eventually run my business into the ground, this little business of mine would end up being a hobby of some sort ike a never ending project of scrapbooking, I didn’t know what the start-up costs were, I didn’t have the money, I didn’t have a unique idea or a business plan, I was sure that I lacked whatever skills I needed, I was certainly not organized, I didn’t know the first thing about becoming a business owner, or about financing, taxes, or even the slightest notion what I could actually DO. I’d also had way too many jobs (more than I care to share, actually) where bosses had convinced me that I was capable of very little. The sad thing is that I really believed them.
Now that I am self-employed, I look back and laugh at how absurd I was thinking that I couldn’t pull this off, and I wonder what took me so long to get here. I know that it was the fear of the unknown, but had I really grasped what it would be like to work for myself, I would have started 10 years earlier, and spared myself all of those confidence crashes, not to mention the most difficult year of my life while my infant son was in daycare.
The really crazy part is that I know how many others still feel stuck the way that I did, and are probably surfing all over the internet right now for the answer. I have no problem admitting that 90 percent of my corporate salary was spent surfing the internet for a way out. I found that to be so ironic when being a stay at home parent pays nothing and is literally one of the most difficult jobs there is.
If you are looking for a quick easy answer, sorry to tell you there isn’t one. I do not have a fool proof business to sell you, I personally don’t have a job to offer you, and I certainly don’t have any specific answers. But I promise you… you can do it, because anyone can. If you have a skill, you can work for yourself. So many people do not realize that they already have what it takes to become self-employed. The simplest question is this: What are you doing for someone else that you could be doing for yourself? Without making a single excuse, just answer the question. Make a list of your skills. Then, trust that you will figure out the rest. You’ll find ways to market, to connect with others, to tap into resources that will give you whatever information you are lacking. Trust that you will find the answers and that there will always be someone to help you.
The internet is an amazing thing and has given us unlimited resources as far as information is concerned. Plus, it connects us to just about everyone on the planet, so when you do decide to venture out on your own, you will have help and support. The possibilities are endless. All you have to do is ask. I had no idea a year ago that the internet community existed to support one another the way that it does. I have been blown away by the generosity of those that I’ve met in my first 2 years as an entrepreneur. I am astounded every day at the passion others have to see ME succeed. Why? Because my success means their success. I GET IT NOW.
So the reason I wanted to write this article is because it wasn’t out there when I was looking for it. I wish that back when I was feeling stuck, someone had invited me to THIS party, just for a moment. I needed to be taken by the hand and introduced to this encouraging world of self-employed parents. Perhaps I wouldn’t have quite realized the compassion and the support that it contained, even if it was staring me directly in the face, but I do know that it was something even greater than what I was searching for, and others need to know that it exists as well. So if this is you, then welcome to the party. You’ll love it here.
Self -employed Parent Enthusiast Ally Loprete is the Founder of OurMilkMoney.com, a nationwide online business directory of self-employed parents, and the host of This Little Parent Stayed Home, a live weekly radio show, on The Toginet.com Radio Groupwhich can be downloaded on iTunes.Ally is on a mission to help other’s deal with the sometimes overwhelming prospect of leaving a full time job to start a new business, while running a full time household and raising kids. She is resolute about creating a haven in which parents across the nation will continue to thrive and obtain the support they need in their personal journeys. Visit more at www.ourmilkmoney.com. Private coaching is available at www.thislittleparent.info
Getting started working from home may involve a lot of preparation or very little, depending on what you already have and how far you’ve already gone with your work at home plans. The following is a basic checklist to help you get started.
Of course, you’ll need a computer. But, you knew that, right? Nonetheless, it’s not necessarily enough just to have any old computer. For working from home, you will need a computer that can be your daily work horse – it needs to be up to date, have plenty of memory, and functional USB ports. If you know others who work from home, ask them what computer they use, and why. Also, ask them if they would choose a different computer if they had to do it over again.
Laptop or Desktop?
While you are considering what computer will best serve your purposes, you will probably need to decide between a laptop and a desktop. Most sources recommend both – using your desktop for daily tasks (desktops usually have more memory) and your laptop for certain projects and for back-up.
The ideal situation is a desktop and router, and a laptop with a wireless card. The wireless card plugs into your laptop’s USB port, picking up a signal from the router and allowing you to connect to the internet using your laptop. Then, you can do the bulk of your work on the desktop and grab the laptop when you need to finish something up or work on a project somewhere else in the house.
Broadband Internet Connection
It’s pretty much impossible to work from home effectively without a broadband or high-speed internet connection. Dial-up takes far too long and will greatly inhibit your business capabilities. So sign up with the internet service provider (ISP) of your choice and get set up for high speed internet.
Family and Childcare
Many people choose to work from home in order to be near their children. However, childcare is necessary during your work hours. This can be a dilemma – making enough money to pay for childcare right off the bat is challenging. Try relatives first – grandparents, aunts and so forth may be willing to watch your children for a few hours a week each, and for free.
Then you can check into mother’s helpers; these are childcare providers who come into your home and take care of your children while you are there. Mother’s helpers are much less expensive than conventional babysitters, because you are on the premises and the helper is using your home.
Babysitters who will watch your child in their home are more expensive. If your children are in school, you can arrange your work hours around their school hours.
While this goes on your checklist, it’s highly individualized. Some people are happy with a workspace in the corner of their kitchen; others prefer an entire room dedicated to being the home office. The important thing is to have some kind of area set aside for you to work in. This helps you get in ‘work mode’ more quickly since you will associate your surroundings with working, and it also sends a signal to other family members that you are working when you are in that area. Julianne Alvarez-Wish is a military wife, mother, business owner, professional writer, blogger and legislative advocate. She is the Director of Communications for Our Milk Money, the Colorado State Leader for the National Association for Moms in Business and the owner of Buy By Mom and Buy By Mom Blog. She is the Colorado Springs Stay-at-Home Mom Examiner for Examiner.com. She also blogs at A Wishful Thought. Her passion, purpose and goal is to help parents work from home so they can be home with their children.
Like any job environment, working from home requires a certain type of individual. There are skills and characteristics of the home employee that may or may not fit your style. So if you are considering working from home, you might want to ask yourself if it’s right for you. Here are some things to consider.
The Work Day
Do you value the time when the work day is over and you can go home and do what you please? If this is a valuable aspect of your outside-the-home job, then think carefully if you want to work from home. Setting your own hours sounds wonderful, but it is not as easy as it sounds. You don’t go home from your home office!
If you are going to work from home, you’ll need a working knowledge of computers. You don’t have to a software designer, but knowledge of the basics is important. It’s also a good idea to have resources you can turn to, such as technically savvy friends.
There’s no IT department to turn to in the home office, and computers require maintenance and updates. If you have trouble downloading software, or if your machine freezes up, you will need to have some knowledge at your disposal to fix the problem. Also, you are undoubtedly using an internet connection to work from home; find out if a back-up plan is feasible for you in case you can’t get online.
Some people are more task oriented than others – that is, some people find great satisfaction in making a list and getting everything on it done. Others find staying on task difficult, and may get distracted easily with other interests and ideas. You don’t have to be naturally task-oriented to succeed at working from home; but you do need to be honest with yourself about your abilities in this regard and plan accordingly.
Remaining self-motivated can be challenging for some. Again, you can’t rewire your brain to be the personality type you need to succeed; but understanding your limitations and strengths regarding motivation can help you put safeguards in place before you begin.
For example, if you have trouble staying motivated, you can ask a friend to hold you accountable periodically. He or she can check up on you weekly with an email or phone call, asking you if your’re on task and if you’ve reached your goals.
If you already have a day job, carefully consider the perks that job offers and decide what you will do about providing those yourself. Health insurance and taxes, for instance, are often things an employer takes care of behind the scenes. You’ll want to look into those things on your own before starting out in the work at home world. Julianne Alvarez-Wish is a military wife, mother, business owner, professional writer, blogger and legislative advocate. She is the Director of Communications for Our Milk Money, the Colorado State Leader for the National Association for Moms in Business and the owner of Buy By Mom and Buy By Mom Blog. She is the Colorado Springs Stay-at-Home Mom Examiner for Examiner.com. She also blogs at A Wishful Thought. Her passion, purpose and goal is to help parents work from home so they can be home with their children.