Making money from home sounds like the ideal solution for busy moms who want to be available for field trips and sick days but still contribute financially to the family. And it is! But it can be harder than you think, especially if you don’t spend some time at the beginning to create a plan.
Four years ago I started this blog in an attempt to create a flexible work-from-home career. Thankfully, that plan has worked out, but it took longer than I thought since I didn’t take a lot of things into consideration.
I hope my mistakes and lessons learned will help you find your perfect work from home solution faster and easier.
First and foremost, figure out how much time you are willing to give to work. Before you come up with a number, think about when you are going to be able to work.
Are you planning on working during nap time? Only while the kids are at school? At night after everyone is asleep?
Next, no matter how much time you think you’ve found in your day, in order to work AND keep up with everything else you’ve already been doing you’ll need to master time management. Get organized and set up systems to keep your home and family running smoothly BEFORE trying to start a home-based business or job.
Time Management Resources:
- 3 Painless Ways to Better Time Management at Home (from My Stay at Home Adventures)
- How to Create a Time Management Plan (from Kori at Home)
- Get Work Done with Kids at Home (from Get Mom Balanced)
- How I Organize My Life as a Working Mom (from Outside the Box Mom)
If you don’t have your home life squared away before you start working, you’ll begin already behind, constantly under stress and overwhelmed.
It seems obvious that you’d identify your skills first, right? Unfortunately, I’ve seen many people skip this step.
Instead of figuring out what they’re good at and then looking for opportunities that fit those skills, many people hear about other people who make money from home and decide they want to try whatever those other people are doing.
By all means, when you are seeking work-from-home opportunities, ask around and find out how other people make it work. But make sure you ask them what skills are required so that you can find the opportunities that suit YOU.
It’s true that you can develop skills over time. However, if you don’t START with something you’re already good at and enjoy, the likelihood of you continuing is pretty slim.
I love writing, sharing ideas and all things related to marketing. I could literally do these things every day for the rest of my life and never get bored. The joy I get from these tasks makes it easier to gut through the more challenging parts of blogging like photography, coding, and graphic design. I would have quit long ago if every aspect of this job felt like work.
When it comes to money, there are a few things you need to think about before you decide to work from home.
How much do you need to make?
Do you just want a little spending cash or are you trying to make a full-time income? You need to know this from the beginning so that you can filter out options.
How much can you afford to invest in start up costs?
There are a lot of ways to make money from home, but many of them require some equipment that you may or may not already own. Set a budget for yourself so you don’t end up taking money away from the family instead of bringing money in.
I gave up most of my frivolous spending when I started my blog to cover expenses until I was making a profit. If you’re considering an MLM as your work-from-home career, you might be required to make an initial investment in inventory so you can demonstrate the products. By establishing a budget, you’ll keep yourself from investing in more product than you can sell.
How will you manage your income and expenses?
If you aren’t making any money yet, tracking income might be the furthest thing from your mind when you are starting up. But you should!
One of the biggest mistakes I made when I started my blog is not setting up a good system for tracking revenue and expenses. Tax time was a nightmare as I went back through my calendar, blog posts, e-mails and receipts to piece together accurate numbers for my income.
When you work from home your income is often irregular and comes from multiple sources. It’s very easy to overlook a payment that’s due or an expense you could have written off. Without a tight handle on your finances, you might make a profit, but you will be losing money that should be in your bank account instead!
I got more organized after that first tax season and started tracking my finances in a spreadsheet. The problem with that system is that because I do a lot of my work on-the-go, either as I’m sitting at my kids’ sports practices, waiting to see the dentist, or traveling to conferences and expos, I either had to wait until I was home to update information or input sensitive financial information in an unsecured cloud-based spreadsheet.
My advice is to start with accounting software from the get-go. I’ve tried all of the popular options and spent so much time moving data over and setting up each new account.
Let me save you some time, trouble and money. Start with Xero.
Many of the accounting software designed for freelancers and small businesses have overlapping features, but here’s a breakdown of the areas where the top contenders vary and why I recommend Xero.
It’s the least expensive of the full-featured options and one of the easiest to set up and use. Here are just a few of the features that come standard in the starter plan :
- Multi User
- Bank Reconciliation
- 24/7 Support
- Bill Pay
You can check out Xero for yourself here.
Opportunities for Making Money from Home
Once you’ve taken time to consider all of the things listed above, you’re ready to start assessing opportunities to make money from home. Here are some resources to help kickstart your brainstorming session.
- 12 Easy Ways to Make Money from Home (from All You)
- 8 Quick Ways to Make Money from Home (from Forbes)
- 9 Legitimate Ways to Make Money Online (from I Don’t Have Time for That!)
- 6 Ideas to Help You Stay at Home and Make Money (from My Stay at Home Adventures)
- How to Make Money if You’re Short on Cash (from Outside the Box Mom)
- How to Make Social Media a Money Maker (from Practical Mommy)
I hope this advice and these resources will make it easier for you to start making money from home. If you have questions I didn’t answer here, please let me know in the comments and I’ll be happy to answer them!