Wanna be a Work-At-Home-Mom? If you’ve ever dreamed of cultivating a culture of entrepreneurship within the sphere of your home by running a home business, I’d like to share ten tips I’ve learned in my own WAHM adventure.
1. Consider your capital in terms of time and money—and count the cost.
Whenever we say “yes” to something, we say “no” to something else. We all invest our valuable resources of time and money somewhere. Write down how you are currently spending those resources, and decide if you want to make the commitment to spend them on a home business.
Sometimes the exchange will be an improvement in our quality of life. For example, we may exchange 10 hours a week that we might normally be watching television for 10 hours of starting up our business. Or we might forego our weekly lattes in order to save enough capital by the end of the year to invest in small business start-up costs.
I had to say “no” to my sewing and paper-crafting hobbies. I miss them, but I made my choice, and I am comfortable with the consequences of that choice.
2. Decide what you want to offer.
- A skill: cutting hair, photography, culinary arts.
- A product you make: baby quilts, jewelry, paintings.
- A product to purchase wholesale and resell: books, make up, hair clips.
- What you love to do.
- Is there a need or demand for what you have to offer?
- Do you want to cultivate repeat customers, or do you want to sell something folks just purchase once?
I spent six months learning how to make soap by reading books, Googling all my questions, reading soap forums, watching Youtube videos, and experimenting. I decided to sell all-natural, cold-process soap and specialize in shampoo bars, which were not as widely known back then.
3. Decide who your target customer is. Be specific.
I make all my products for Sharon. Sharon is 33 years old with kids. She makes healthy consumer choices when it comes to food, house cleaning products and bath and beauty products. She manages a household income that enables her to spend a little more for these types of items, but she is smart and won’t pay more than is necessary.
4. Study your competition.
- Who else is making soap for Sharon? Google key words that you would use to sell your product or service, and then study the competition’s websites, prices, products, labeling and packaging, business policies, etc.
- Write down what you like and what would motivate you to purchase from them, and also write down what you don’t like. If they are a successful company, what makes them successful? If they are a small company that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere—figure out why. Imitate what is good and avoid what doesn’t work.
- Brainstorm how you could be better than your best competition. If you want to succeed, aim high and persist in improving along the way. Here are some pictures to show how we’ve evolved over the past 4 years:
I’m sort of embarrassed by these pictures, but that brings me to my next tip:
5. Don’t wait until you’re a rock star to jump into the entrepreneurial waters.
As you can see, I certainly didn’t. Sometimes we just need to jump off the cliff and find our wings by attempting to fly! Some easier, cost effective ways to do this would be to join an established, multi-level marketing type business, like Tupperware or Lilla Rose, and learn the ropes of running a business from people who can coach you along.
When my oldest children were little, I sold Dorling Kindersley books and Discovery Toys. I got some sales experience and learned how to run a business which then prepared me to launch my own business many years later.
6. Create business branding: logo, slogan, labeling, and packaging.
You may want some help with this to pull off a professional appearance. A friend of ours designed our logo and first website, and our oldest son took over from there. We are still trying to figure out how to make our labeling/branding more professional. It’s one of my goals for 2014.
I would say good branding is one of the most important things you will figure out at the beginning, so get help if you need to.
7. Establish an online presence.
I sold on Etsy for a while, and this is a great, inexpensive option for getting your product out there and building a customer base if you don’t have a lot of capital to start with. Once you have a regular customer base, consider launching your own website using a shopping cart like Big Commerce.
8. Be uniquely YOU!
This took me a while to figure out. I admired so many things about other companies that I had a hard time deciding who I wanted to be. Relax, though, because if you stick with it, your uniqueness will eventually shine through.
I eventually figured out a lip balm recipe that crushed all competition, a practical family use for spa salt bars (the SINK!), and my own, exclusive shampoo bar formulation that is, I think, the best on the web both in quality and price. These things make my shop kinda special, I think.
Nobody can do what you do, the way you do it. So SPARKLE!
9. Be accessible to your “Sharon.”
Price your products for her. Offer specials and freebies. Keep her informed. Help her solve her problems. Bring her joy.
10. Be disciplined and work hard, but don’t go overboard.
Ask me how I know about the overboard part. This year the kids are helping out a lot more (getting paid, of course), and I’ve been able to train in another mom who is now making 75% of all my products. I feel balanced for the first time in a long time, and it feels terrific!
I had to delegate and let go of some profits to make this happen. But my sanity and peace of mind are worth it. And so are yours.
Do you operate—or dream of operating—a cottage industry? Tell us about it!