Home Businesses for Homeschoolers
- 2008 15 Feb
Operating a home-based business is becoming a much more common, desired option for many people today. I believe there are many reasons why homeschoolers in particular could benefit from having a home business.
It has been my observation, through knowing many homeschooling families, that many of them are on a tight budget. This is understandable, since most are operating on one income, and at the same time, paying to educate their children themselves.
I have also seen a common desire in many of the families to have Dad work from home and thereby be more a part of the homeschooling years.
As a former homeschooling parent myself (my kids are now graduated), I can attest to both of these situations. I know some extra income would have been very welcome, allowing us a little more freedom in our activities and ability to obtain education resources. I also would have been thrilled to have my husband work from home, but at the time, we did not pursue it.
I believe having a home-based business can be an answer to both of these desires. It can be a wonderful endeavor, whether it is Dad working the business himself, or Mom in her extra time (stop laughing!), or a family-run home business that you can involve your older kids in. A home-based business can start by providing the extra income to make your life a little easier, and at the same time, build toward supplying a full-time income.
A Blessing for Mom
A home-based business can actually be an outlet for Mom, giving her something that is “her own.” It would bring her into contact with others (customers, clients, others working in similar businesses) and give her an opportunity to keep learning and challenging herself. Most moms are glad, too, for some extra money to go on a date with their husbands, treat their kids to a lunch out, or buy some of the extras their family could use.
Great for Dad
A home-business for Dad can be a blessing for the whole family. It would eliminate his commute and long hours away from home. He may even be able to help with some of the teaching, giving his wife a break. It has the potential of bringing the family even closer together. Of course, most home businesses cannot offer a full-time income right away, so I recommend starting it part-time while Dad still has his job, and growing it to the point that allows him the option to leave his job and operate the business full-time.
Teach Your Teens Practical Business
Having a home-based business can also be a wonderful experience for your teens. What better way to teach them entrepreneurial skills than to have them start a home-based business? You can be right there to guide and help them. You could use this as a practical way to teach business and give your teens academic credits for operating the business. By offering them this option, you are opening up to them a world where they can make their own choices, be their own bosses, and be home when they have their own family.
By helping your teens start their own home-based business, you give them a choice in whether they pursue a college education or not. Many times, teens will opt to go to college because they do not know what else to do. If they find a business they really enjoy, it could eliminate the need for college. Many may still want to go, but you have offered them options. If they do go to college, they will most likely be ahead of many of their classmates in their leadership skills, maturity, and money and time management.
We homeschooled our two kids right through high school. I made sure they learned all the required subjects so that they could do well on the standardized tests and their SATs. While I still think that was important, I wish I had offered them options to learn more practical things. My son ended up going to three years of college without a real goal for what he wanted to do as a career. He got interested in Internet Marketing and decided he wanted to pursue his own business rather than finishing college. He has learned more since then than he ever did in his college years. Why? Because he found something he was interested in. He saw the potential for freedom and flexibility, and he was able to apply what he was learning immediately to his business. Most of the time, he has a stack of books in his room that he is reading and learning from. He loves getting up and going to work because he is doing something he enjoys.
I regret not exposing him to the world of practical business sooner. It could have given him an earlier start and saved him (and us) the expense of those college years.
How Do You Start?
So, how do you get started? It is very important to take some time to think about what you would enjoy doing. What are your interests? What are the things you feel strongly about? This is where you want to start. I believe the reason many people start one business, then drop it and go on to another, is that they never really assess what they want to do in the beginning. They might see a friend working at a business and think they would like to try it. When they get into it, they find it is not really right for them and quit. They might repeat this scenario many times, until they finally decide a home business is not for them.
Before you start your business, try to determine if there is a market for your product or service. In other words, try to determine if people are actually willing to spend money on what you want to offer. There are tools online that will help you determine how many people search for your particular type of product or service. Go to wordtracker.com and use their free trial. You can also check Amazon or your local bookstore to see if there are books written on the subject. Also, check the ads in magazines on the topic. If others are paying money to advertise and writing books on the subject, there is most likely a market for it.
Then you need to decide what type of business you want to pursue. There are different options, such as joining a company and selling their products (as a consultant or representative) or starting your own business from scratch. Everyone is different, so find what fits you. I have done both. I enjoyed owning an online bookstore for a time (I bought the store and was part of a company), and now I have my own business that I have built from scratch, helping others connect with home businesses that are legitimate and right for them. I do admit to favoring what I do now since I am able to run my business the way I want. It is more work to do it this way, but also more rewarding.
It Takes Time
One thing you need to realize is that building a successful business will take time. You will need to be diligent to stick with it even when it isn’t showing a profit. If you have a good product or service to offer that people want and are willing to spend money on, you will see your business grow and become successful. However, it will most likely not happen quickly. There will be times when things seem to be going great, and there will be times when you will wonder why you ever got into this in the first place. That is why, as I mentioned earlier, it is so important to choose something you are interested in. That can help you continue during the hard times.
A home business will require much less of an investment than a “brick and mortar” business (i.e., a business with a storefront), so it is much more appealing to those on a tighter budget. However, it still offers many of the same challenges and character lessons. There are several traits I have found to be essential in being a successful entrepreneur.
• Self-motivation: It is imperative that you can work on your own and keep yourself motivated.
• Risk taking: You’ll need to be willing to take some risk. Not everything will be laid out for you. You will need to take steps when you are unsure of what the outcome will be.
• Investment: Some financial investment will be necessary. It does not have to be a huge amount, but there will be some initial investment to make.
• Continual learning: It’s important to keep learning and growing with the current market. A willingness to learn new things is definitely an advantage when you’re in business for yourself.
• Integrity: Without it, you will not last in business long.
• Perseverance: There will be times when you are tempted to become discouraged because your business is not going as you would like. You have to be able to persevere through those times and stay on target with your goal.
• Communication skills: Good written and verbal communication skills are tremendous assets.
• Learn from mistakes: It’s important to learn from mistakes and not let them hinder you from moving forward.
These qualities will make the difference between someone who just wants to “give it a try” and someone who succeeds at their business.
A successful entrepreneur will “take the high road” when it comes to dealing with others. You need to humble yourself and keep your customers/clients happy, but at the same time, display confidence in what you do and in your decisions.
Take That Step
If your desire has been to start a home-based business, I want to encourage you to go ahead and take that step. As I have mentioned, it will take time to grow it into a successful business, so the sooner you begin, the sooner you can reap the rewards. Many times, we wait for that “perfect time.” You may think you should wait until your kids are older or until you have more time. It has been my experience that the perfect time does not come. Life has a way of keeping us busy, so we need to decide to make time for what is important to us.
My quest to find legitimate businesses you can do from home was born in my homeschooling years. I recall talking with another homeschool mom: many times our conversations centered around wanting to have a home-based business. However, we were both stumped on what you could do from home. As I began to seriously consider starting a home-based business, I looked around at what was being offered. I decided there were probably many people in the same situation—wanting a home-based business, but either having no idea of what to do from home, or not knowing how to get started. I have found out since, that many times, a business is birthed out of a frustration or problem we have encountered, and our business can become the solution.
My hope for you is that you will take the steps needed to reach your goals, and that your family will be blessed by it.
Laurie Neumann, owner of www.christianhomebusinessconnection.com, helps connect people with legitimate home-based businesses that are right for them. She offers a guide to over eighty legitimate home-based opportunities, which can be picked up at www.legitimate-homebasedbusinesses.com. She has also compiled a special guide for teens at http://www.teenentrepreneursbiz.com/.
This article was originally published in the Jan/Feb ’08 issue of Home School Enrichment Magazine. For more information, visit http://homeschoolenrichment.com/