Longing to be a work-at-home mom? Here’s guidance to help you match your abilities with real, money-making possibilties.
When the kids are sick, the weather outside is frightful, or your boss is just plain getting on your nerves, the idea of having your own home-based business can sound like the answer to your prayers. And for some parents, it is. According to the Families and Work Institute, seven percent of parents work from home on a regular basis and an additional 14 percent do it occasionally.
Think you’d like to join their ranks, but aren’t sure what you’d do? Here are ten business ventures that are perfect for the home setting, along with inspiring interviews with enterprising moms who have made this dream a reality.
1. Graphic Design
Sharri Jackson creates custom publications for more than 55 professional associations nationwide, all from the convenience of her home. “It was a long road to this point, but I love what I do,” says Jackson, whose career switch from interior designer to marketing enabled her to quit her full-time job and start her own custom publications business. “I volunteer at my daughters’ schools; I’m here if they are sick or if there is no school. We swim in the summer and play in the basement in the winter.” Sharri makes sure her clients know that family comes first by sending them a picture of herself with her children when a contract is signed.
Susanna D. always thought she worked better independently than for a boss, so when she and her husband decided to move back to their Denver hometown, she took a chance and started her own communications company. She provides public relations services, including consulting, writing and editing. Susanna credits her company’s success to her years of experience and the support she got from former colleagues who served as mentors. For moms who have limited experience coupled with the desire to pursue a similar business, she offers the following advice: “Try to use the experience you do have. If you have administrative experience, become an administrative support consultant to other independent public relations practitioners – interview a few to find out what they need. If you’ve done a lot of parties, find someone who specializes in events and try to help them out. Most of all, ask people you know for assistance. Most people love to help each other.”
3. Arts and Crafts
Creative women with a knack for crafts can turn their hobbies into cash. Debra P. creates personalized baby, wedding and other special occasion gifts through her home business Deb’s Sew Special Gifts. “Having my own business has given me something that I can call mine,” says Debra. “I call all the shots and I don’t have to check with anyone when I want to do something with my son Koby.” While she says she doesn’t expect to get rich with her sewing gig, she does like the feeling of bringing in some extra cash for her family.
Karol K., a mother of three, parlayed her legal expertise into a home-based consulting job with her law firm. Karol first proposed a work-from-home arrangement to her firm while pregnant with twins. She has been on her law firm’s payroll as a consultant on an as-needed (by the firm) and as-desired (by her) basis for more than three years. This type of arrangement works best when you’ve been a long-time employee of a company and they know your work ethic.
If you’re good with numbers, an accounting and bookkeeping business is a good option. A background and/or courses in accounting, bookkeeping, tax preparation and payroll services can serve as your foundation. “You ought to be able to balance your own checkbook,” says Brigitte T. who runs a home-based accounting firm. During year-end and tax season crunch times, the mother of three puts in close to 18 hours a day, but says a benefit of being self-employed is its flexibility. “You set the work hours that work for you,” she says.
6. Notary Public/Signing Agent
As a notary public, Alyice E. can pick and choose when she works. Notaries witness the signing of documents, such as wills, and place a seal on them. Rules for becoming a notary public and the pay associated with this work vary from state to state. California requires a formal test and allows notaries to charge $10 per act; while other states simply require the signature of your state assemblyman, but then allow you to charge a mere $0.10 per act. To make money, Alyice advises becoming a mobile notary and/or signing agent. “As a mobile notary, you are allowed to charge for the convenience of driving to locations provided you tell them the fee up front,” says Alyice whose website features articles and an e-book about the subject. “Signing agents work with real estate documents only, and you can charge companies a flat fee of $50 to drive to their clients, witness their signing of loan documents and complete any notarial acts needed.”
Before starting her accounting business, Brigitte T. offered licensed childcare services in her home. “My husband and I were determined to be the primary caregivers for our children, but we needed my income to meet basic living expenses,” says the mother of three. “Working at home was the best way to satisfy both requirements.” Each state sets its own guidelines for registering and licensing childcare providers. Although state laws seldom apply to day care for only one or two kids, it’s important to contact the Department of Social Services about local regulations.
While most teaching jobs do require leaving the house, some colleges or universities are in need of instructors to teach online classes from home. In addition, colleges and universities often need teachers to instruct courses at satellite branches during evening hours. Fran P. teaches English composition to college students one night a week. She prepares and grades course materials at home, which allows her to spend more time with her three-year-old son Mike. If you’re able to arrange childcare quickly, another option is to substitute teach at your local schools. Some states require substitutes to have teacher certification while others require only a college degree. Contact your local school district about requirements.
If you’re interested in earning both money and “free” products, then working as a sales consultant might be for you. From Mary Kay cosmetics, to Pampered Chef kitchenware, to Creative Memories scrapbooking, there’s a wide range of sales opportunities available that only require you to work out of the home on the days or evenings when you agree to schedule a party. To determine if this career is right for you, think about the products that interest you, attend a few parties and talk to some consultants.
10. Case Manager
Paula H. was a content stay-at-home mom to then two-year-old Drew when she was approached by her state’s early intervention program for infants and toddlers to provide case management services. As a case manager, Paula provides services for families with young children, from birth to age three, who have developmental delays or disabilities. She decides how many hours she works by choosing the number of clients she takes on. Case managers are required to have a college degree or to have a child with special needs. In addition, Paula recommends that you be “a good listener and good organizer/planner, easy to talk to, compassionate, and like babies/toddlers and doing lots of paperwork.”
These ideas may well serve as a springboard for more, and may set your imagination flying to other ways to uniquely match your own set of skills, experience and capablities to very real, money-making possibilities. If that truly is your goal, then the main thing is to set the wheels in motion and you’ll be surprised at the options that open up to you!