With the growing cost of childcare and demands of motherhood, more and more women are opting to work from home. Many years ago, my husband, Gary, and I built a business from home so we could spend more time with our kids, have more control of our income, and get out of debt. As time progressed, the rewards of having our own business from home became greater than I ever anticipated. With a couple of decades of work-from-home success under my belt, I have several tips to offer other mothers navigating the trials and joys of working from home.
1. Create Boundaries.
Women are multitaskers, and that ability comes with pros and cons. The main con is that it’s easy to get distracted. We are fixers, always dropping what we should be doing for someone or something else. But flexibility shouldn’t mean you’re “always available.” You should do personal favors outside of your scheduled work hours. You must set boundaries around your time and relationships.
You can’t do it all, so do what matters most. It’s crucial that you set and honor work and life boundaries, especially if your business is run strictly out of your home. Set aside a family day, and let that be a day where you rest with your family and turn off the business side. “Off” must truly mean “off.” By the same standard, “on” means “on.” When it’s time to work, discipline yourself to focus on the task ahead of you and get the job done. Otherwise you will sabotage your success and train those you love who are watching you to do the same. Establish boundaries within your work as well. Identify the bad clients—the ones who always cancel on you or who expect far more from you than what they’re willing to pay for—and break up with them. No amount of money is worth a client who doesn’t respect you or your time. Remember: your time is your greatest asset. Protect it and use it wisely, or someone will take it from you.
When you are working, it is time to get things done. When there’s no client to see or paying task to complete, it’s easy to get distracted doing everything except what builds and funds the business. Do you really need to shuffle those papers or dust that shelf again? All business is sales in some form or fashion. You must focus on how put your product or service in front of people or there’s no business. You can’t wait for customers to find you even if you operate a storefront.
3. Believe and Persevere.
To be successful, you must believe in what you’re doing—that you can do it and should do it—or you will lack motivation. Without motivation, you will quickly hurt your professional reputation. Stay with the job until you finish it. Stick with the task. Your business model will never be perfect, but that’s the fun of it! Keep an idea journal for lessons learned and development opportunities. Don’t let ideas escape—one of them might be the bridge to where you want to be tomorrow. You’re creating answers and solving problems, and that eventually turns into more pay and more freedom.
4. Build a Team.
To successfully work from home, you will need to build a team around you. Who will watch your kids while you make client calls? Who will evaluate your new ideas and encourage you? Who will do your taxes and legal work? Who in your circle of family or friends can fill these roles? Can you work with family or friends? Can any of your older children learn these functions, depending on their gifts? You may need to hire some help. Identify the team you need and get recommendations. In every sound business, there must be operations, sales, marketing, accounting, and fulfillment—and a good measure of hope—to continue to grow your business.