The Working Mom

Monday, March 14, 2011
By Tricia Stevens
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There was a time when women became moms, they quit their jobs to stay home with their kids while their husbands worked. Nowadays, women want both a career and a family and don’t want to choose between the two. In today’s expensive economy, having a two-parent working household may even be necessary. According to Kimberley Clayton Blaine, author of the book The Go-To Mom’s Parents’ Guide to Emotion Coaching Young Children, a licensed family and child therapist, and mother of two boys, doing both is possible. “Thanks to the Internet and to the skills we women have developed from our years in the workforce, we have more options than ever before,” she says. “More and more moms are crafting lives that have ample time for both work and family-and we’re doing it well.”

One of the options is to start your own business and work from home and Blaine tells us how to do it right based on her own experiences.

Find a need to fill
To get started, you’re going to want to make sure that your venture fills a need out in the existing market. Is it something that is different from what is out there already? Is it better, faster, bigger, more innovative? Consider these questions as you weigh the pros and cons of going out on your own. Everyone has their own expertise, interests, or an eye for where something is missing. Tap into that to create your own success.

Test market your idea
Before you drop everything, including that steady paycheck included to start your new venture, do this work on the side before you resign. Get your first customer or at least some healthy interest before you take the full-time plunge.

Pay attention to your gut instincts
Some of the most successful businesses got their big break because they were on the cutting edge of a new trend. Take Blaine, for example. When she first started her online venture, social media, like Twitter, wasn’t nearly as popular as it is now. And yet, that’s become one of her biggest outlets for making connections in the online community to drive traffic to her sites. At the time, it may have seemed to some that the time she devoted to Twitter was a waste of time, but she knew she was investing in something important. And today, that has paid off.

Utilize your workplace skills towards your new venture
Whether it’s people skills you’ve picked up in dealing with clients, marketing know-how, or even just your admirable work ethic, tap into that skill set and transfer it to your new venture.

Assemble a top-notch team
When you first get started, you’ll have to serve as your own team for a while, but down the line expect to do some hiring (and have a plan in place for it). During your early days as a one-man show, make sure you are always on the lookout for talent so that when you are ready to expand, you can hire the right team.

Stay connected and engage your audience at all times
Social media is making it easier and more convenient than ever for mompreneurs to stay connected. Twitter and Facebook can keep you connected no matter where you are. You can blog and comment during naptime, or introduce a new product while you wait in the pick-up line at school. Blaine cautions that while staying connected is great, it often isn’t enough to take you to that next level. Go the extra step and engage in conversation with those you are connected with. That’s where the true rewards lie.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help
We all have our strengths when it comes to business. But that also means we all have our weaknesses as well. When it comes to the areas that are outside of your expertise, don’t hesitate to ask someone to help you.

Stay true to your brand
Don’t be quick to jump at the first opportunity that comes knocking. Stay true to who you are and what you know feels right. Remember, the Internet is forever. Whatever you say and do online will never go away. Be wary of attaching your brand and your name to something that may not be right for you in the long run.

Go for the gusto
A big break can change everything. Just because you are going out on your own it doesn’t mean that you don’t deserve to be backed from the big players. Getting one big sponsorship can open the doors for plenty of other big opportunities, and it helps to legitimize your brand and give you some credibility. Remember, companies are not going to come looking for your talent, you have to be the one to put it out there.

Now here are Blaine’s tips for staying balanced:

Get your business affairs in order
Depending on the type of business you are starting, there will be steps you need to take to get yourself started. Meet with your financial advisor and talk through a plan for getting started (and having a cushion), write out your goals and plans for the next twelve months, set up email accounts, phone lines, or get your website up and running. If you start off on the right foot (instead of already behind), then you’ll be less likely to feel overwhelmed. And if you get most of the busy work and red tape behind you initially, you’ll have more time to concentrate on the important things, like getting your business off the ground and running!

Draw the line between your work life and home life
One of the biggest challenges for moms who choose to go out on their own is finding ways to keep their business and personal lives from constantly overlapping. If your office is at your kitchen table, then it can be easy to get distracted by dirty dishes. And likewise, if your business line is tied into your personal cell phone, it can be hard to focus on devoting your full attention to your kids during outings to the park. Even if it’s a small corner somewhere in your house, set up a workspace where you can devote yourself to working during your set hours. Set up an email account and phone line that are specific to the business (and not co-mingled with personal) and be sure to devote a space to important work documents, like bills and contracts, so that you can find them easily.

Get your spouse on board
While working from home and having a flexible schedule does allow more time for house chores than a traditional nine-to-five job, it may be hard for your spouse to understand that he won’t always come home to a perfectly clean house and dinner on the table. Just because you aren’t leaving the house to head to an office every day doesn’t mean that you won’t be doing work, and that can be a tough adjustment. Sit down and talk through the ways you can share responsibilities as you get your business started, and make sure he understands what your workday looks like.

Set a schedule… and stick to it
This goes for both your duties at home and your business. If you don’t set a schedule, you’ll find yourself harried and stressed and constantly trying to do too many things at one time. You can’t do good work if you’re trying to send emails and fix lunch at the same time… and you aren’t engaging your kids if you attempt to put a puzzle together while listening in on a conference call. Having a set time to work, just like working inside an office, will help you to get more accomplished without feeling so overwhelmed.

Don’t count on a 9-to-5 schedule
In a more traditional office setting, you show up to work in the morning and when you leave in the evening, you leave.

Remember, you have to be just as professional as everyone else
It’s important to remember that your business is just that: a business. And just because you are sending emails while wearing your pajamas, it doesn’t mean the code of business conduct you follow should be any different than if you were in an office wearing a nice suit. Be sure to follow the same rules and etiquette that you would if you were working inside an organization. Reply promptly and professionally to any emails or phone calls, proofread any documents, and address any customer complaints or concerns in a prompt, professional manner.

You can see more of Kimberley Clayton Blaine, MA, MFT, on the online parenting shows TheGoToMom.TV and MommyToMommy.TV, which she also serves as Executive Producer.


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One Response to “The Working Mom”

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