Earlier this week I shared with you the fabulous book from Amber Carter, Money-Makin’ Mama: How to Generate a Steady Income as a Stay-at-Home Mom . I told you how much I loved her tips on organizing and prioritizing. So I am so excited to share this guest post with you from Amber. She is sharing more ideas on how to make being a work at home mom WORK! When you are done be sure to go enter to win a copy of Money Makin’ Mama filled with more information on home to make it work for you too!
Tailoring a Business Around Family: Schedule, Space & Situation
by Amber Carter
I am truly blessed to stay at home with my kids and run a business. I’m not saying that it’s easy, but it sure is rewarding. The biggest lesson that I’ve learned from this whole balancing act of family & business is to keep my priorities in perspective; I’m a wife and mom first, and a business owner second. Therefore, my family does not revolve around my business; my business is tailored around my family. Practically speaking, this plays out in three realms: schedule, space, and situation.
The business caters to the family’s schedule. When I first started my bookkeeping business 3 ½ years ago, I had just resigned from a federal career. Because I was used to working a usual 9-5 job, I just assumed that I would have to be available to work (or at least appear to be available to my clients) from 9-5 everyday. Not only did this potentially set me up for failure, but also it just wasn’t honest. I had a newborn; I wasn’t available from 9-5. I might be available from 2-4am, but not 9-5. Then it hit me. Even though I don’t have banker’s hours, I do have advantages over the average business. I’m available at unconventional, yet somewhat predictable time frames. To be specific, I usually work from 6-7:30am (before the kids wake up), 1-3:30pm (their nap time), then from 8-10pm (after they go to bed).
I might receive an e-mail on my iPhone, at 8pm, from a client asking me to generate an invoice for an exciting new project. I can immediately respond, informing her that I will send it to her the next day. Of course, I can choose to produce that invoice and send it off within the hour, thus producing good rapport (by under-promising and over-delivering) and freeing up my schedule a bit the next day. I thrive off of this structured freedom.
The average 9-5 businesses can’t provide this kind of efficient service. My hours may be unusual, but they’re perfect for me!
The business submits to the family’s space. I have a 3 yr. old daughter and a 10-month-old son; this means lots and lots of toys. All over. With limited space in our home, that doesn’t leave much space for a “home office”. Thankfully, my line of work doesn’t require much space. All I need is my laptop, an Internet connection, and a scanner. All of my clients’ financial statements, receipts, invoices, and QuickBooks back-up files are neatly organized digitally using online storage. Not only is this secure and reliable (if my computer crashes, I won’t lose any information), it’s kid-proof! You won’t find my son gnawing on a bank statement or my daughter coloring castles on a Profit & Loss Statement because there are no paper records for them to destroy! My personal favorites are the NeatReceipts Scanner and DropBox online storage.
The business compliments the family’s specific situation. Schedules change. Commitments change. Budgets change. I started working with my first client when my daughter was 9 days old. At that time, our family budget was little more flexible and my free time was much more abundant. When we discovered that we were expecting another baby, I quickly realized that I still wanted to earn the same amount of money (actually a little more), yet my hours would be more limited. I wanted to remain the face of my business, but I knew that I wouldn’t have the time to be that contact person AND process all of the paperwork involved with gaining and retaining clients. It was quite the conundrum.
My solution was to hire a handful of other stay-at-home moms to assist me in updating my clients’ QuickBooks files. It saves me time and gives other moms the freedom to work from home, set their own hours, and not have to worry about answering phone calls from clients. A win-win situation for everyone involved!
When family situations change, it’s important to re-evaluate both personal and professional priorities and tailor the business accordingly.
For specific examples of businesses that work with particular family schedules and situations, check out my book Money-Makin’ Mama: How to Generate a Steady Income as a Stay-at-Home Mom.