Between the new baby demanding attention, and your co-workers giving you sideways glances when you leave early AGAIN, it’s no surprise that, for many new parents, the idea of being a work at home parent is extremely attractive.
Three years after taking this leap of faith myself, I can vouch that the flexibility is unmatched, and that it can work really well for young families. But the learning curve has also been steep, especially with regard to a few odd notions I had when I first started. I wish someone had nipped those in the bud for me ahead of time.
So, if you’re considering starting up your own business and becoming a work at home parent, let me clear up some common misconceptions ahead of time for you!
1. Working while the kids play
When I started out, I had this notion that I’d be able to work while my kids happily entertained themselves.
I’m going to put it out there and say it’s not possible. I found myself juggling the need for dedicated time to run my business, with wanting to be present for my kids when they were around.
To save yourself the stress and guilt induced by being pulled in two separate directions all the time, my advice would be to schedule set work time during your child-free hours. And the more predictable the schedule, the better. It will allow you to really plan out what you expect to achieve during those hours.
I like putting my to do items in my calendar to ensure I stay on track during those precious business hours. This includes scheduling time for day to day operations and checking emails. I find if I don’t schedule out my day then I’m not as productive and I lose time on social media, browsing Flying Solo forums or ‘researching’ my latest project or idea!
In a related point, be ruthless in selecting what you’re going to do during your child-free hours. When you have limited time you don’t have time for the ‘nice to haves’. Focus on what you need to do.
2. If you set up a website the traffic will come
With so many stories out there of online successes, I thought if I combined a great blog with social media then the traffic (and sales!) would flow. Unfortunately, unless you’re particularly talented in crafting viral content that will translate directly to website sales, this is not going to happen.
You’re going to need a well thought out marketing plan (and budget). As you get to understand your niche and your marketing channels it’s highly likely that this marketing plan will be updated, refined or completely overhauled on a monthly basis.
3. Online eCommerce stores have low overheads
While this may be true, the overheads are still there, and they do add up. There is a fixed cost component in website hosting, ongoing marketing, SEO, directory listings, bookkeeping/accounting, office/warehouse costs, and most importantly, your own salary.
If you’re selling a product you may also be surprised to discover the volume you need to move to cover your costs, let alone make a profit. You need to make sure you have the cash to get through lean times and past your breakeven point.
But in the end, being a work at home parent is so worth it
It’s such a privilege to be able to work on my passion while still having the flexibility I want and need for my kids. The work is hard, the juggling is hard – but every day I’m learning, loving what I’m doing and am hugely proud of the business I’m building.
Do you have kids and run a business from home? What were some of the misconceptions you had when you first started?