Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Review: HomeWork

As I mentioned in my introductory entry, when we moved to Missouri I gave up my outside-the-home job to become a full-time homemaker and homeschooler.   While my husband’s new job increased his earnings, our family’s income was still cut by a third.  Gas prices have started creeping up for the demands of vacation season and the grocery budget doesn’t seem to go as far as it used to (has anyone else’s milk prices jumped 50 cents per gallon in the last month?) I’m sure I’m not the only mom pondering about working from home.


TOS’s ebook Homework: Juggling Home, Work, and School Without Losing Your Balance  may be one of the best resources to help you decide if a home-business is feasible for your family.   This is not a “10 Easy Steps to Start Your Own Business” type of book, in fact I wouldn’t label it a “how-to” book at all.   More than two-thirds of the articles are homeschooling/work-at-home parents sharing from their hearts—how and why they started their businesses, how they schedule their days, how they cope.  These are real families, warts and all; they describe bumpy roads to success and sometimes failures leading them right back to square one.


Coming from a work-outside-the-home background, I saw my job, teaching my son, and home life as separate, albeit connected, compartments of my time.   Having read these testimonies, I can see where my point of view would hamper my ability to be a successful work-at-home mom.  All of these aspects have to fit into one container—a 24 hour day.  For some it meant putting formal schooling completely aside during the rush of harvest time, allowing that for a time it was enough for their sons to learn what it takes to support a family.  In another instance, living out of a motorhome required a family to find a portable money-making opportunity that wouldn’t take up too much room. 


Some of these families make, grow or raise the items they sell, others provide specialized skills.  While you’re reading, don’t try to match your family to those in these stores or try to find your ideal vocation.  Just like one curriculum can’t suit everyone, each reader is going to approach working at home with a different set of skills, different priorities, and different family dynamics.  I do believe these stories will help you set realistic expectations if you decide to move forward and develop your own business. As I read, I kept pen and paper handy to jot down questions that came to mind.  Some will require researching: how do I market myself, are there too many others doing the same thing, what are the upfront costs?  Other questions will require soul searching: will I respond or react to stress (Zig Ziglar will tell you one is positive and one is negative), do I have enough confidence to be a salesman?  


The end of the ebook has some very basic organization and accounting tips.  You will need to find another source to educate yourself about small business accounting and regulations that would apply to your situation.

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