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Full Time Stay-At-Home Mom to Entrepreneurial Parent ("EP"!): Tips for Easing the Transition

Even if you don't expect to start your business for several years, now is the time to start planning for your re-entry into the workforce -- including the home office workplace!

1998, by Nancy Collamer

If you're a mom with preschoolers at home, your dreams of becoming an Entrepreneurial Parent may be on-hold for a few years. Between laundry, mealtimes and bending down to pick the playdough out of the carpet, many moms find they lack the energy and focus needed to get a business off the ground.

But, even if you don't expect to start your business for several years, now is the time to start planning for your future. Devote just a few hours each week and soon you will have a solid foundation in place. Most of these tips are easy to implement. Try a few. Not only will your plans become more focused and realistic, but you'll find yourself energized and having fun in the process!

Use the time to explore, dream and read about new career possibilities.

Confused about what type of business to start? One of the best ways to brainstorm business ideas is to learn from moms who are already successfully running their own home-based business. Fortunately, there are hundreds of wonderful books and articles that can educate and motivate you. Hire a babysitter and go spend half a day browsing the self employment books at your favorite bookstore. You will be amazed at how much information you can find.

Get in touch with your motivating skills.

The best business opportunities in the world will do you little good unless they take advantage of your unique profile of skills, knowledge and motivators. Running a business takes lots of energy and commitment so you want to find work you'll really enjoy and do well. Spend some time defining your marketable strengths and interests. What are the activities that you both love to do and do well? What type of skills do you excel at? What are your favorite fields of expertise?

Address any skill or knowledge deficits.

Keeping your skills current is a necessity. Particularly if you plan to switch fields or industries, you will need to add or update your skills. Once you determine your ideal job, talk to people in the field to find out ways to insure your skills are up to par.

Develop a long-range schedule for integrating work back into your life.

Getting back to work has to be done at a manageable pace. Plot out the ages of all your family members over the next ten years. Determine when your children will hit milestones such as going to full-day school or entering middle school. Think about when you would feel comfortable working 20 or 30 hours each week. Use the time leading up to your return to work for studying, exploring, networking and volunteering.

Target volunteer assignments.

Volunteering, when used strategically, is a great way to polish old skills and try out new ones. It is also a wonderful way of meeting people in your field of interest. Choose your volunteer assignments carefully. Thinking about running a home-based daycare service? Volunteer at your child's pre-school. Interested in public relations? Handle publicity for a fund-raiser. Don't fall into the trap of volunteering only in response to telephone pleas for help.

Take some classes.

Colleges and community programs are offering a growing number of courses tailored to the adult and entrepreneurial community. The cost of these courses are often surprisingly low. Call for some catalogs -- you will be inspired by the range of topics. Attending class buys you information and access to a network of professionals in your field of interest.

Build your network.

Make it a point to expand your network. Start by getting to know some other mothers. You will be amazed to discover who they used to be before having their children. Join a home-based working moms association or networking group.

Try out a new idea or skill on a small scale.

Do you have a wonderful talent or product that you would love to market? Perhaps you are thinking about being a caterer or starting a party planning service. Give it a try on a small scale. Before you invest in heavy start up costs, cater a few small parties or business lunches. Make sure you really love the work before proceeding further.

Keep current.

Make it a point to read a daily newspaper or at least listen to the evening news while preparing dinner. Tune into National Public Radio while chauffeuring the kids. Spend some time on the Internet. As you learn about new trends you may key in on a great work from home business opportunity.

Invest in some professional clothes and accessories.

It's easy to avoid going to a meeting or class when you only have "mommy clothes". Make it a point to buy a few fun professional looking pieces. You won't need a lot and most of the pieces can be worn for social occasions as well. If budget is a concern, shop the consignment shops or after season sales. Remember, looking professional will help make you feel professional!

Nancy Collamer is the "Jobs for Moms" Pro for Moms Online (www.momsonline.com). The above article was first published (and is still available) on Nancy's Profile Page, in response to the many questions she receives every week from moms looking to make the transition back into the workforce. Come visit other Moms Online at this family-friendly, upbeat and very useful site!

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