Day 2 of Starting a Business at Home: 5 Honest Questions to Get You Started

5 questions to ask when starting a business at homeI’m traveling this week, so sorry for the delay on the posts. Today, I’m keeping it short and sweet with 5 questions to get you thinking:

What profitable skills do I have?

What can I do to increase my skills?

Why do I want to work at home?

What am I willing to compromise to make time for work?

What is my natural response to failure?

I’ll write more on these over the next five days to help you flesh it out. Be blessed, my friends!



31 Days of How to Start a Business at Home

howtostartmombizI love to start things, like this blog! And I love to well, start things. Not keep things going. So, every October, this great movement called Write 31 Days shows up in my inbox.

The challenge is to write for 31 days on one topic. In an effort to get this blog going and to help you -the mama who wants to start a business at home – actually get started, I’m going to share 31 days of how to start a business at home.

I’m qualified because I started a successful freelance writing and marketing business 10 years ago this October and kept it going in some form or fashion for the past 10 years. It’s probably why this blog got neglected. But I want to share the who, what, when, where, how and why with you.

I hope you’ll subscribe to my blog so you can get the posts in your inbox each day.

I hope you’ll find inspiration and some tools to take that idea and make it a reality among the realities of diapers and dinners. See you tomorrow!

Day 2: Five Honest Questions to Get You Started

Get Specific in Your Dream

specific dreamAlmost a year ago, I signed up for an MLM book business. I love kids books and wanted to do something to make a little money and inspire a love of reading with kids in my community.

It’s kind of a “thing” these days to have a little side business or a hobby shop. I wasn’t ready to go back to freelance writing and consulting yet, so I thought this could be my “thing.”

Well, I got started. I spent hours reaching out to Facebook contacts inviting them to my launch party or to like my page. I went to a friend’s open house for her clothing business launch with a cute packet and a free gift. I was ready to rock this “thing.”

The night of my party happened. I had a 3-year-old screaming outside the bedroom. I had my script loaded into the Facebook party script tool. I started the upload on my videos. I was ready to chat with my 6 guests. I had a lot of “maybes” and spent half my “party” time reaching out to the people who said they were coming.

Then the problems started – my videos didn’t load. That’s okay. I was ready with a “Change of Plans” script.

My conversation was great. I was using this as an opportunity to present what I was doing and my strategy was to follow up and ask for sales once everyone had a chance to look at the catalog.

I sent out packets in the mail and links via email. I followed up. I wasn’t too pushy.

But something was wrong. I just ignored it.

I kept getting emails about orders being delayed in shipping. I kept running into people who had “already” bought a few of these books from another party.

Ok. No big deal.

I kept telling people what I was doing. I kept at it.

But a month later. No sales.

I followed up with everyone from my party again to tell them of shipping deadlines for the holiday season. Two friends ordered.

I was excited and decided to hit it again after the holidays. Then, I was checking orders online and realized one of my customers wasn’t going to get her books until after the holiday. I was frustrated and luckily found the product on Amazon. I shipped it to her and made a decision.

I wasn’t going to keep after this book business. I decided to fail. The company had some shipping issues during the holidays. I’m a pretty forgiving person. And I realized that I could stick with this or dig deeper and search for why I failed.

While some of the circumstances were out of my control, the failure in this business venture was with my goal. I wanted to do the book business differently. I thought I was specific in my goal – blog about books and ship boxes. Create a Facebook group about books. Do a book subscription service better than my local bookstore.

I had some clear goals. However, my heart wasn’t in it. I wasn’t willing to do the Facebook party model or bookfairs. It wasn’t me.

I think direct sales companies are awesome. I buy quite a few products from people I know who sell them. But this model wasn’t for me. It might have been timing. It might have been a lot of things.

But the lesson I learned is that you have to get specific in your dream.

What is your dream? How do you want to work that dream? What do you want to earn from that dream? What are you willing to give up? What are you willing to learn?

I didn’t answer these questions when I embarked. So, I got stuck. I got frustrated. And I quit. And that’s okay.

But if you’re not specific in your dream – your dreams will usually come to a standstill.

Instead of books, I started a new venture. I started a service aimed at helping people define their “what you do.” It’s called ProPolish. I help job seekers, WAHMs and solopros polish up their resumes, LinkedIn and other social profiles, project proposals and websites. Getting clear on what you do matters. Let me help you Pro Polish. Get the details here.

Why I Spent Nights, Weekends and Early Mornings Working on a Dream to Stay Home

mamaismarketer2.pngWhen I was in my early twenties I traveled a lot for work. While I was traveling, I listened to get-out-of-debt guru Dave Ramsey’s radio show almost every day. I was attracted to this show because his way of living is different.

He likes to call people weird. He likes to celebrate not having debt. He likes to play a clip of people chopping up credit cards in weird ways like with a chainsaw or a blender. I don’t recommend using your Vitamix for this, but the idea is crazy. And inspirational.

I so wanted to live what he said every day:

“If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.” – Dave Ramsey

I wanted to live like no one else I knew. I wanted to work for myself. I wanted to be home with my kids. I wanted to be a teacher (in a lot of different ways.)

I knew these desires weren’t my own. These were the things I was supposed to do with my life. God gave me the gifts of words and thinking and teaching. He gave me a drive to do life a little weird even if it meant some loneliness, some hard decisions, some hard losses and seemingly impossible hurdles to overcome.

I haven’t had a credit card in nearly 10 years. But I did go out and do what Dave said not to do. Really what God said not to do. I became a servant to my interests and bought things we didn’t need.

You Have to Commit to Living Differently

Dave was right. When you start living like everyone else, you get miserable fast. It’s no fun to have a dream to do something big with your life that seems impossible to overcome. But God has a way of using our ashes to bring beauty.

If my husband and I hadn’t made stupid mistakes with our money, we probably wouldn’t be any different than we were then. We probably wouldn’t have taken a leap of faith to start businesses of our own. We would still probably be hiding behind payments and desks.

But mistakes and debt are not what my post is about. My post is about living differently and why we sometimes have to do hard things like get up early, stay up late, stay in when we want to go out with friends to build a dream.

So in order to overcome those dumb things, we have to think differently and do differently. And that takes a commitment. It’s kind of like our diet and exercise. If you want to make them a reality, you have to do them.

Don’t Let the Whine Stop You

If you want to be a runner, you have to go buy the shoes and get out the door. Getting started is easy, but keeping that commitment every day is hard. A lot of people say to write  your goal on your calendar. Make an appointment with yourself. But if you’re like me, you probably see that as something to skirt around.

But let me tell you something. If you want an at-home business to flourish, you have to honor that appointment. If you want an exercise habit, you have to honor the need to do it.

I recently started exercising regularly again. I bought an app on my Apple TV to do my 30-minute workouts at home. My kids complained and whined that I took over the living room for 30 minutes each day at first.

But now they ask me if I’m going to exercise. And most days around 4 p.m., I do. It’s my time to do something. I show them that it’s important for Mama to be healthy and active even when they whine.

And that’s an important lesson. You’re going to want to whine and complain about not wanting to do the work on your business. You’re going to get whines from your kids, your friends and possibly your spouse. But if you set aside time to work on your business, you need to honor it. Or it’s going to stay a dream.

Keeping Your Role in Perspective

Now, let me warn you against one thing with this attitude as a mother and a wife. Your business is important, but your family does come first. It’s your job to recognize when something is a whine and when something is a legitimate need.

My exercise rule with the kids is “You can be in the room as long as you don’t fight or bother me for a non-emergency.” What is an emergency? Hair on fire or blood are our family definitions.

Also, when you’re working, you cannot expect very small children to entertain themselves for long periods of time while you work.

I’m not saying I never put a movie on or used Netflix as a babysitter, but I tried to be very intentional about my time with my child and husband when I was building my business.

You also can’t let your work get in the way of your marriage. Working every night after the kids are in bed is unreasonable and unfair to your husband. He needs your time and presence.

I tried to find a balance of a couple nights a week or I just got up early. My hubby never gets up early, so this worked for us. My child also didn’t get up early, so I worked around that.

I rarely stayed up late to work because I knew I needed to get up early. I’m a morning person so this worked for me.

Recognize the Lessons You’re Teaching

Another note on when to work is to recognize your need for sleep. You’re not going to serve your family or your business well with sleep deprivation. So, don’t think you can cheat yourself out of sleep.

Your business idea is going to take time to build. It’s not going to happen overnight. It’s not going to happen on coffee fumes. Sure, it can. But is that the life and the lesson you want to teach your children or your husband?

You also want to take care of yourself. I told you in my welcome post that I had an exercise habit in the midst of building my at-home marketing business. I did and the most successful time of my business was when I started making time for exercise.

I went 2-3 days a week to a bootcamp and ran 2-3 times a week. The bootcamp was an hour and the runs were less than 30 minutes. I tried to devote 3 hours a week to my exercise. I cherished my time to sweat and loved it when I was able to run a complete two miles without stopping. It gave me time to clear my head and to brainstorm.

Your family needs you to be healthy. They need for you to take time to exercise and eat right. You’re setting the example for them and as the heart of the home, you set the tone.

Take Time for Your Home

I know there are only so many hours in a day and that keeping a nice home is tough.

However, a home is the heart of your family. It’s a place of refuge and regeneration.

But it doesn’t require perfection. You live here! However, your home needs care space on your calendar.

There are two roads to take here. You can set up a cleaning routine or you can hire some help. Hiring someone does give you the freedom to start with a clean slate. However, you have to keep up with the day-to-day tasks (dishes, laundry, sweeping, wiping counters, making beds, etc.).

I did have someone come in every other week because I was working full-time and building a business. You may not be able to afford this, so I recommend getting a cleaning schedule and following it. My personal favorite is Flylady. If you don’t have a plan for your home, it will get out of control.

Take Time for Your Faith

If you are going to do something great, you can’t do it alone. I know I can’t. I need support and a strength that is not my own. I need strength to be nice to my family that’s not my own on a sometimes minute-by-minute basis.

If you don’t take time for your faith, you will be depleted quickly. Launching a business is a risky heart move. You may not feel like it is, but you’re putting a lot of you on the line. You’re going to mess up. You’re going to be spread thin.

But that doesn’t excuse taking time to pray and study the word of God. The word of God is life-giving and His promises to walk beside us and help us are what we need to cling to when life gets hard. If we don’t make time to be reminded of those promises and to seek truth and direction from our Creator, we might as well pack up shop.

I built the dream of my business on prayer. I asked God to guide me every step of the way. I asked Him to put the right people in my life. And the times I tried to do it all myself, I hit shut doors and obstacles. I spent time running in circles. And when I got to the end of myself, God put me back on the right track.

So, please make time for your faith. You’re going to need it.

You Can Do This!

 If you are ready to start your business, you can do this. It’s going to be hard, but it’s going to be rewarding. You will struggle. You will want to quit. You will get so busy you don’t think you can breathe. But you can do this!

Subscribe to my blog for more encouragement. If you have questions, please drop me a line. Thanks for reading!




wadsworth quoteThis blog was born of a need – a mama 🙋🏼 needing to get back in touch with herself. We mamas aren’t just caregivers and taxi drivers. We’re ladies looking to do something big in this world.

My personal aim is to be a woman seeking Christ in all I do, to be a helpmeet to my husband and to raise kids who love God. If those things are all I do, then I will leave this world blessed. I will know I did exactly what I was made to do.

But I also think mamas can be a woman too. We can teach and help and encourage others in our sphere of influence. I think all mamas have a need to do something they love. In my case, I love to write and teach others how to grow a little or a big business.

It’s what I did for a long time. It’s what I did to break out of corporate America (which I truly loved BTW).

I grew up with an entrepreneur father and married an entrepreneur man. And I think I’m raising at least one entrepreneur daughter.

When I had my first child, I knew I wanted to be a WAHM. I wanted to be a freelance writer who had time to be a homeroom mother. I wanted to be flexible enough to go on field trips and be there for first steps and first words.

But I had to go back to work. We didn’t make enough money for me to stay home yet.

I was heartbroken. I knew no one could care for my daughter like I could.

It was the only time in our nearly 11 years of marriage my husband has asked me to do something I didn’t think I could do.

I cried for about two weeks and did two things – started reading and started praying with a purpose. I asked the Lord to make the vague five-year plan I made for myself at 25 a reality by the time I turned 30.

And ladies, let me tell you about Matthew 7:7. (“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”)

God makes it better than we could ever imagine. He takes care of us even when it doesn’t look quite like that 5-year plan. For brevity’s sake, you can read more of my leap of faith story here. But the spoiler is that this dream came to fruition ONE DAY before I turned 30. How cool is that?

I also started reading about how to make my fledgling writing and marketing business go to the next level.

A few of my early reads:

  • The Well-Fed Writer and the accompanying newsletter – Peter Bowerman is a pro and he’s even got a section of his site dedicated to mamas. 😀
  • The Greatest Miracle in the World by Og Mandino
  • The Choice by Og Mandino
  • Every page of Ann’s blog is an encyclopedia on getting started.
  • Words on the Page blog – Lori is awesome. I’m kind of a fan girl.

This early reading gave me ideas and helped me learn what type of people I wanted for clients. It also helped me frame my entrepreneur mindset.

I may have mentioned that I’m a homeschooler. I use the classical method of schooling with my kids. The quick lesson about classical education is that you learn how to learn by starting with the grammar of any subject.

I spent a few months in the grammar stage of freelance writing learning what to say and writing email after email response to freelance writer ads.

I actually pumped milk a few times a day at work for my baby and used this time plus my lunch break to read books and blogs and to reply to freelance ads.

When a few yeses started coming in on projects, I used the time I had between putting the baby to bed and my own bedtime to work on my business. I also worked on the weekends for a couple of hours.

It was hard, but it was only hard for a little while. Once the doors started opening, they never stopped. Covering my dream in prayer and hard work kept them open.

If you’re willing to do those two things – pray and work hard, you’re ready to make that little dream something big.

Your next steps:

  • Drop me a line to let me know what advice you’d like to see on growing a business as a mama. You can leave a comment below or reach me at amandacbrandon at gmail dot com.
  • Subscribe to my blog for weekly mama marketing encouragement.