If you’ve ever looked at another entrepreneur and wondered how she manages to get it all done, the answer might surprise you. She’s got good systems. It’s true. The most productive people all have one thing in common: they don’t reinvent the wheel every day. Instead, they’ve figured out the best, most efficient way to do every task, and they create a system to do just that.
No matter what business you’re in and what projects you find yourself tackling, a systemized approach will help you: • Work faster and produce more • Produce higher quality results with fewer mistakes • Easily outsource the tasks you don’t like to do
The Magic of Templates
How many times do you answer email from potential clients? What about responding to customer complaints? Or mailing your JV partners about an upcoming launch? All of these tasks and more become effortless when you create fill-in-the-blank templates that can be repurposed for specific cases/people. Templates can be as simple as a “canned response” in your email client or help desk, or you can use software such as Text Expander (for Mac) or Phrase Express (for Windows). You might even create a template document in Dropbox or Google Drive to house all your templates for easier access. While templates will undoubtedly save you time, the real beauty is that once they’re created, you can easily outsource things like email and even sales. Simply instruct your assistant on the proper use of your templates, and you’ll be free to do other, more important things.
Checklists Prevent Mistakes
It might seem counterintuitive, but when you perform the same tasks over and over again, it’s easy to miss a critical step. You might think you paid your affiliates this month—you might even remember doing it—only to look back and see it was never completed. But when you implement checklists, it’s suddenly much more difficult to miss an important task. You can easily create checklists for all your common tasks and projects using nothing more than a text document. If you’re managing a team, checklists in your project management system allow you to see exactly what tasks are complete, and which are still outstanding.
Templates and checklists turn smart business owners into productivity superstars, and it’s easy to get started. The next time you answer an email you’ve answered before, save your response. The next time you set up a new product in your shopping cart or create a new opt-in page, take the time to record the steps. These documents will make future projects easier and faster to complete, and best of all, you can hand them off to your assistant to do instead.
First, let’s get real about this starting a business from home deal.
It can be more convenient and your schedule can be more flexible, yes.
Having your own business rewarding, yes.
Easier than working for someone else, outside the home, doing the commute, punching a clock…
No, not easier.
Starting your own business (no matter where you do it) and being responsible for bringing in the clients so you can bring home the bacon…very hard.
Now try building that business when there’s leg huggers fighting over your right leg – when clearly you’ve got two and they can have one each…since they actually MUST hold on to your legs. There’s also a house to clean, dinner to burn, NYTimes calling to sell you a subscription – the list goes on.
Again, very hard.
But not impossible.
I’m living my WAHM dream of being with my kids while running a business.
Now, I’m not a millionaire.
My business isn’t set it and forget it and watch money roll in as people click that Buy Now button.
Though I did try that approach with internet marketing for a bit, my heart wasn’t in it.
I wanted a real business. I wanted to make a name for myself.
I wanted to change the world by helping others and by providing a top notch service utilizing my strengths of being creative, analytical and having the ability to decipher and teach any topic that I truly love.
It wasn’t easy. I stumbled a few times. I tried things because the “business gurus” said it was THE way to get things done.
“Set your business goals first and build a 5 year plan”
Based on what goals exactly? People stumble over this every time. Now don’t confuse this with personal goals.
A personal goal is what you want for yourself. A business goal is what you want for your business.
It’s bad enough in job interviews when you’re asked, “where do you see yourself in 5 years” and you really see yourself taking the interviewer’s job but you can’t say that. Now imagine having to sit down and set a goal for a business first. A business that you have a vague idea about.
“I want to be my own brand”
“I want to have a striving business”
And then you have to build a plan to get there?
How practical is that for a mom who wants to start a home business?
It took over a year to find my groove. To flesh out what works for me.
To find the perfect business for me that was satisfying while being profitable.
That’s THE hardest part, ya’ know.
Deciding what kind of business to start, what kind of service to offer.
You can’t just decide you want to start a business and then build a 5 year plan for it.
And I know there’s a lot of info out there on the www about how to start a business.
But that’s not what you need yet.
You need to decide what kind of business to start.
And yes, internet marketing makes it seem easy. There are lots of “passive income” stories.
But even if passive income is what you want, you still need to determine what you can do to get that.
“Pick a product everyone wants, sign up as an affiliate and create a business around it. Put up a Blog and SEO the crap out of it.” – Bullshit.
It’s not long term. I don’t care how evergreen the product is.
I’m talking about building a business you can grow. Put your name on. Be proud of. Be known for.
And since I’m all about sharing my experience, here’s the strategy I used.
11 Practical Steps To Choosing Your WAHM Business
Evaluate your strengths.
Pick what you love
Research your market.
Define your market.
Determine the services your strengths provide that your market can benefit from.
Research those services to learn if they are in demand/profitable.
Outline the tasks required to get the business started.
List what the business requires for production.
Project your available investment amount.
Define the time you have available to invest into running a business.
Reanalyze the services you want to offer. How much of it does your schedule and budget allow for?
I know it seems daunting.
But this is the exact strategy I used. Though I didn’t think of it as a strategy – it was just an outline at that time – I’ve used this same outline for multiple clients.
And I can tell you, going through these steps brought me to a place where I was finally confident in what I’m doing, what I am offering.
I can tell you I’m happy, both spiritually and financially.
Now along with my personal goal of being a work from home mom, I also have business goals and financial goals and being organized and practical is the key.
Though I did make a good income in the past from blogging, it was never enough income to support my family. If it were not for my design and marketing skills, I would have been back to the corporate grind a long time ago.
Feeling disenchanted by the whole blog business/passive income dream? Whether it be from lack of income or your heart just not being in it – I’m here to tell you, you’re not alone girlfriend.
Many bloggers are tired of chasing stats and blog hopping their day away in return for a few adsense dollars.
Do you feel as if you’re selling bits of your soul in exchange for enough to buy a mani-pedi and a mocha frap grande?
If you’re a blogger who wants to build her business, this post may get your gears turning and ideas brewing.
First, let’s get this out of the way.
Work at home does not mean some cheesy sleazy get rich scam that costs a barrel of money and then doesn’t work.
I can’t number all the ways moms can work from home and build an empire of their own, but let’s start with an even dozen.
These are a few work-at-home, mom-run businesses that I find:
are easy to start
need a small investment
getting started can fit into almost any mom’s schedule
1 – Traveling Hairdresser
When I lived in Brooklyn, there was a mom of 3 in my building who was once a hairdresser. The chic could do wonders with a blow dryer, a handful of bobby pins and a brush. Even with her 3 kids, all under 5, tugging at her legs. I worked 2 hours overtime one Wednesday and had a meeting the next morning with potential clients. My hair was a mess to say the least. When I griped about my hair, she pulled out the blow dryer and followed me to my apartment, all kids in tow.
For the last 6 months that I lived in Brooklyn, I never saw the inside of a hair salon again.
Never had to rush home to get to the salon before it closes.
And? She was less expensive than the Salons.
Never had to rush home to get to the salon before it closes.
And? She was less expensive than the Salons.
I would have to pay for an extra hour of babysitting AND pay the hairdresser $40 to wash and blow dry my hair straight. With Leanna scheduled to drop by at 8pm (while her kids were with her hubby), I had lots of time to feed the kids, get ’em settled and wash my own hair.
Here are pictures from 2006 of her styling younger teen’s hair for a school party. If I knew then, what I know now, I would have hooked that mama up with a website and a local web presence so people could find her on their iPhones.
2 – ChildCare
Certified childcare giver? You are not limited to craigslist and flyers honey. Moms are always searching online for caregivers and having a solid web presence with reviews and showing off your credentials gives you an advantage over the competition.
3 – Caterer
No you don’t need some fancy shop to sell your baked goods and mouth watering dishes. You need a website, pictures, reviews, a listing on all the major review sites and the willingness to deliver samples to a client’s home or office. When my friend Patty was reviewing caterers for her wedding reception, the running around was the most stressful bit. She would leave work early or on her lunch break to check out some caterer in the city. Would have been a whole hell of a lot easier if she could have visited websites, checked out reviews and ordered dishes to sample and have it delivered to her office.
4 – Holiday Decorator
One thing I can tell you about my old neighborhood, it was always decked out for the holidays – Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving and Halloween. Shop windows had colorful drawings and there was never a gaudy, blinding house at Christmas. There was a team of two moms and a teen in the neighborhood that had established themselves as holiday decorators. From what my ex-landlady told me, they had a portfolio and catalogs with decoration ideas. The home owner would buy the supplies themselves but the team was responsible for first coming up with a design and then implementing it once everything arrived. Smart. Hell, if they were affiliates for the companies who’s catalogs they used…super smart.
5 – Mommy Assistant
I saw an ad for someone searching for a Mommy Assistant once on Craigslist. Looong time ago. And I thought, is that the same as a wet nurse? But learned it was a mom, a busy work from home mom, looking for someone to assist her with errands, shopping, making lunches and picking up her kids when she was tied up. She actually wanted someone for a few hours daily. Now let’s say you’re a mommy assistant that does errands and pick ups only. You could have multiple clients in the name neighborhood. Where do you get these kind of clients? Offline networking of course. PTA meetings, community meetings, community centers, a flyer at the YMCA or local dance school. Hell if you’ve got local Facebook friends, they could help get the word out too. A blog to place your reviews is optional as long as you have references.
6 – Seamstress
Now, I’m not looking to put the local cleaners out of business, but it’s $15 to hem a pair of pants. Do you know how expensive school uniforms can become when you’re paying $30/pants x 3 plus $15 to hem each? It took the Cleaners 20 minutes to hem all 3 pants while I waited. Forty-five dollars. Sistah, if you’re nearby and can do it cheaper, I’ll leave those pants with you for a week. If you have your own machine, you can find clients in all the same places listed for Mommy Assistant and create a profile on Yelp, Google Places and Foursquare for local customers looking for a seamstress from their mobile phone or desk. Once established, a website with reviews and pictures builds your credential.
7 – Embroider
Custom embroidered bags, tees, jackets. Reach out to your local shops and factories that have uniformed employees. Dance schools, gyms, martial arts facilities and yoga centers usually sell merchandise with their logos embroidered on to them. Seo a website for those services you want to offer but also hit the pavement with business cards and samples.
8 – Editing Services
Anal about capitalization? Write with spellcheck off cause you’re smarted than the auto correct? Girlfriend what are you waiting for? There are multiple niche services you can offer. Copy editing, dissertation editing, proof reading everything from blog posts to website copy to manuscripts. Give out a few freebies in return for reviews and get yourself a search engine optimized website.
9 – Accountant
You were once a corporate accountant and now you’re a mommy at home with twins? Many people offer this service virtually and yet there doesn’t seem to be enough experienced accounts to go around. When I was working in corporate, though we had an accounting department, there was a virtual specialist for tax time. One of my previous clients runs his business out of his home, his accountant is virtual too.
10 – Carpenter
Made to order furniture…does not have to come from a store. Meet Cher of Designs by Studio C. If she were local, I’d keep her busy with orders. Visit her website. She’s doing an incredible job promoting her talents.
11 – Launderers
No, you don’t need your own laundromat to make this one work. Have a car? Know how to separate whites from colors and fold clothing? I’d pay good money to have someone pick up my laundry, wash it, dry it, fold it and bring it back to me all within a day. Take in several orders a day. No website needed. Hit the pavement and use social media.
12 – Photographers
This is one of my favorites. I’ve come across women with an amazing eye for photography. Some who trained professionally, some who it comes to naturally and grew up with a camera in their hands. AMAZING photographers, i should know, I worked in the imaging industry for 12 years with photographers. Guys who make big bucks from name brands. I know when a shot is breathtaking. When the lighting is right. When the picture is retouched or the real deal. Mama, take that camera, build your portfolio, build a search engine optimized website offering your niche of photography (family photographers are the best way to start) to local customers and go for it!
Anything based on past work experience that you excel at
Personal sports trainers.
Pastry Chefs. (If you live in the Bronx and make peanut and tree nut free desserts, drop me an email.)
Personal shoppers. (Yes, truly. If you can dress my shape and put the right colors on me, you’re hired.)
You can take your expertise and make a living from home.
Takes a small investment and lots of elbow grease.