Starting a business as a stay at home parent not only offers the possibility of an extra source of income, but can also be really exciting! Of course, you’ll face unique challenges related to balancing your responsibilities as a business owner and as a parent. We’ve done the research for you and found that the key to success is to choose a business idea that works with your schedule and responsibilities. After you’ve settled on an idea, you can address the legal and financial aspects of establishing your business. Finally, you’ll need to make a concrete plan for balancing your responsibilities as a stay at home parent before launching your new business.
Choosing an Idea
Become a freelance writer. If you like writing, you could make a substantial amount of money as a freelance writer. In addition, freelance writing offers the opportunity for you to put your creative abilities to use and to create a wide variety of content.
Freelance writing jobs can pay between $10 and $30 per hour.
Look on websites like http://www.freelancewritinggigs.com for writing jobs that might interest you.
Contact your local newspaper to see if they have any opportunities for paid writing.
Enroll in courses that will help you sharpen your writing.
Offer to do no-charge copyediting for friends or nonprofits in your community. This will help you get lots of experience and to sharpen your skills so you can eventually charge customers.
Start a tutoring business. Tutoring is one of the easiest ways you can make money and put your academic or intellectual background to good use. If you have a degree in a specific field (like English, Math, or History) or professional or teaching experience, you’re likely qualified to tutor a subject.
If you have kids in public school, let their teachers know you offer tutoring services in certain subjects.
Look for tutoring jobs on websites like http://www.wyzant.com or http://www.varsitytutors.com.
Charge an hourly fee. For instance, you might charge $20 to $50 dollars per hour depending on the subject and the level. Tutoring AP Chemistry might fetch a higher fee than elementary school English.
Begin a dog walking business. By charging a fee per dog, you can make a good amount of money over the course of a week. In the end, you’ll make money working with animals and doing something enjoyable. When starting your business:
Put up flyers in your neighborhood advertising your dog walking business.
Tell your friends, family, and neighbors about your business.
Offer discounts if a person has multiple dogs or has you walk their dogs several times in one day.
Your fee may vary on your location. For instance, dog walking fees in Southern California will be higher than in Atlanta, Georgia.
Create a list of products you could sell. While services might be a good option, selling or reselling products might offer you a profitable alternative. Reselling products will give you the ability to take care of your family and make some money on the side. Consider selling:
A variety of goods on Amazon Market Place or eBay. For example, you could resell toys, dishes, electronics, or more.
Setting Up Your Business
Estimate your potential costs and profits. After you’ve created a list of goods or services you can offer, you need to narrow down your list and figure out if you can make money. In the end, an unprofitable business is not worth starting.
Think about how much you would charge for a certain service. For example, if you’re offering a dog walking service, think about how much money you need to make per dog so it is worth your time.
Decide how much it would cost you to resell a product. For instance, if you are reselling vintage clothing, determine how much you will or can pay for a specific article of clothing and how much time and money it costs for you to sell it.
Conform to laws and regulations. Before starting your stay at home business, you should investigate any local, state, or federal laws or regulations that may be applicable to your business. Without being aware of laws and regulations, you could wind up being fined or have your business shut down.
Call the permit department of your local municipal government for information about laws and regulations that govern small businesses in your area.
Be aware that some cities or municipalities have laws that govern what type of businesses you can run out of your own home.
Make sure to pay municipal, state, and federal taxes if applicable.
If you employ others, make sure to have them sign appropriate paperwork. For example, if you hire hourly workers as independent contractors, make them sign an independent contractor agreement. Consult a contract lawyer for more information.
Get your business license. Most governmental authorities require many types of businesses to register and to get a business license. Without a business license, you could find yourself in violation of state statutes.
Call your state or province’s department of business regulation to find out if you need to apply for a license. For example, in Florida contact the state’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation at (850) 487-1395.
Certain professionals, such as real estate agents or cosmetologists must be licensed. In addition, many states and provinces require certain professionals to enroll in continuing education courses.
Purchase insurance. Depending on the type of business you start, you may need to purchase insurance to protect you from loss or lawsuit. Without insurance, your small business may open you up to monetary losses much larger than anything you may gain by working. Some insurances you may want to consider include:
Worker’s compensation insurance. This insurance will cover any employees if they are injured in the line of work and are unable to continue working.
Liability insurance. Liability insurance may protect you if someone is hurt due to the fault of you or one of your employees.
Property insurance. Property insurance will cover your property – and sometime other people’s property – if it is damaged during your work.
Set a budget. Creating a budget for your business is perhaps the most important step you’ll need to take to make sure it is successful and profitable. Without a budget, you won’t be able to keep track of your expenses and project income.
Know how much money you spend on supplies weekly, monthly, or quarterly.
Calculate your general overhead for a given period. For instance, tally up what you pay for a website, a store front, or to rent equipment. Ultimately, your sales must cover the cost of product and general overhead.
Balancing Your Responsibilities
List your time constraints. Before putting together a schedule to balance your work and family responsibilities, you need to list all of your obligations. This is important, as you might have significant time constraints associated with taking care of your children. Thus, reflect on them when picking a potential business to start. Some time constraints might include:
Picking up and dropping off children.
Coaching little league or another extracurricular activity.
Preparing meals or cleaning the house.
Readying the kids for school in the morning.
Taking care of unforeseen events like taking a sick child to the doctor.
Create a schedule. Balancing your many responsibilities as a stay-at-home parent and small business owner will perhaps be your biggest challenge. There are several steps you need to take to create a proper schedule so you can manage your responsibilities. Make sure to:
Get a day planner so you can organize your time.
Write in all your family obligations on your day planner. This includes little league, picking kids up from school, and everything else.
Block out portions of the day for your business. For example, put aside 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the afternoon to take care of your work.
Set aside time for your family. During this time, you won’t work at all. Ultimately, while you’re in business to make money, you’re first priority will always be your family.
Dedicate meals, bedtime, homework time, and other time to your family.
Wait until after family events to answer phone calls. If you’re at one of your children’s softball games, you should wait until after the game to respond to a customer
Answer phone calls and emails promptly, but don’t let them dominate your life. While your primary responsibility is taking care of your family, you also need to make sure that you provide service to your customers.
Return all phone calls and emails within 24 hours.
Acknowledge the fact that your customers have contacted you. For example, if you’re on a family trip and won’t be able to access the internet all weekend, set up an autoreply message that lets your customers know when you’ll be back.
Don’t interrupt family events to answer a call that can be answered later. For example, don’t leave the dinner table to call back a customer unless you know the issue is time sensitive.
Be punctual when providing your goods or services. Without punctuality, you’ll establish a poor reputation. To avoid this, make sure to get your product to your customer as quickly as possible.
If you sell products over the internet, make sure you ship them as quickly as you can. However, don’t pick your children up from school late because you were shipping something at the post office.
If you provide a service, don’t show up late. If you have to because of family obligation, let your customers know as soon as you can.
Launching the Business
Buy your supplies. After you’ve chosen what type of business you’re going to start, you need to make sure you have everything you’ll need to run it. Without gathering your supplies, you’ll be ill-equipped to attend to the needs of your customers.
Stockpile your product. If you’re starting a consignment shop, make sure you’ve lined up enough people with enough goods. If you’re reselling clothes, visit thrift stores and start to accumulate clothes.
Buy anything you’ll need to provide a service. For instance, if you’re starting a dog walking business, you’ll likely need treats, leashes, and dog poop bags.[
Get the word out. After you’ve stockpiled products or determined what service you’re going to offer, you need to make sure people know that you’re in business. Ultimately, advertising is one of the most important aspects of establishing a successful business.
Create a website, if appropriate. For instance, if you’re setting up a consignment shop, you should probably create a website that lists store hours, location, and gives potential customers an idea of the products you offer.
Use social media to promote your business. For instance, create a Facebook page for your business.
Take advantage of your friend network to get the word out about your business. For example, let your friends know, and let the parents of your children’s friends know. This might be especially helpful if you’re offering a dog walking or babysitting service.
Have your product ready. While you’ve set your budget, gathered supplies, and done some sort of advertising, you need to be ready to serve your customers when they call. Thus, make sure you are ready to supply your goods or services when the time comes.
If you provide a service, be ready to set aside time to provide that service. For instance, if you have a dog walking service, write in the times that you’ll walk a person’s dog.
If you sell goods, make sure you have plenty on hand. For example, if you sell baked goods, make sure you have ingredients on hand to bake cupcakes when your customers want them.