- Q. Dear Nancy,
I have three children, all under the age of 5. I work full-time
as the assistant to the director of admissions at an independent
school. I have experience in running an office because this is
what I do, however my employer does not appreciate my efforts
and seems to be annoyed that I don't put in extra hours.
My family is
very important to me. I have great computer and typing skills.
I have tried with great effort to find a job at home but all
the sites I locate seem to always ask for money. Could you offer
any suggestions as to what I can do?
- A. Hi Melissa:
Each week I receive
dozens of e-mails from Moms interested in finding family-friendly
work options, but by far the single most popular question is,
"How do I find an employer who is willing to hire me to
work from home?" As much as I wish I could refer you to
a job listing site or job matching service, I have yet to find
one that I can wholeheartedly recommend. Unfortunately, the answer
is that it is quite difficult to find employers willing to hire
new employees to work from home. Since a telecommuting arrangement
requires the employee to be self-motivated and dependable, most
employers prefer to give those assignments to employees who have
proven themselves as capable and trustworthy over time.
you have two choices. You can either opt to work for an employer
in-house for awhile with hopes of eventually going to a telecommuting
basis, or you can strike out on your own as an independent contractor
(meaning you are responsible for paying your own taxes and there
is no employer-employee relationship). Many employers these days
are farming out work to independent contractors because it reduces
payroll costs and eliminates the need to hire and fire people
as the business needs change. It also gives them an opportunity
to test out your work which puts you as a leading candidate to
get hired in the event that they need new personnel.
In order to interest
employers in giving you an assignment, you'll need to put together
an attractive brochure, rate card and business cards. You could
offer word processing services, list management, data management
or desktop publishing assistance. Consider offering a special
first time user rate to entice new customers and be prepared
to show samples of your work. Look at the classifieds to see
which companies are looking for full-time help as they may be
good candidates for your services. You might also go talk to
some of the printers in the area, as they are often a good source
of information about companies who have heavy word processing
to send out a mailing advertising your services to companies
you'd like to do business with. Follow up with a phone call --
you never know when you'll reach somebody at just the opportune
moment. Make it a point to network and send all your friends
and associates information about your services. Finally, be sure
to avail yourself of the networking opportunities and resources
provided here at the Entrepreneurial Parent.
Wishing you much
success in your new venture -- go knock 'em dead!
|Q. I am a disabled female and am trying
to start my home business. The Dept. of Rehab. has set me up
with all the necessary equipment from a Pentium 11 400 mgh computer,
scanner, color photo quality printer, fax machine, CD writer,and
copier. I am proficient in all the latest software such as Excel,
Micro-Soft Office, Peachtree, Lotus, QuickBooks Pro and more.
Spreadsheets, file archiving, mass mailings, payroll, to every
type of clerical duty necessary is not a problem for me. My problem
is not being able to do the work, but finding employers or procurring
contracts from the government or anyone else that are willing
to give me a chance. I have faithfully been searching the classified
ads daily, and searching the Internet but to no avail. My goal
is to get off SS and become a productive citizen of the work
force again. I found I could run a home and still have plenty
of time for my family easily. Now I have many empty hours to
fill. Any help from you would be greatly appreciated for I am
very sincere and dedicated in obtaining my goal.
- A. Dear Elaine:
You sound most
sincerely dedicated to your goal and have taken many of the initial
steps necessary to get your business off the ground. As you indicated,
your problem, now that you have the resources to get the job
done, is finding a way to attract customers and or/employers
to your services. Rather than concentrating on getting somebody
to hire you as a home based employee (which is very difficult
to do unless you've worked for the company before), try marketing
yourself as an independent freelance worker and find several
different businesses to be your clients.
to effectively market and position your services can be accomplished
several different ways. Consider attending a workshop on marketing
a small business. Contact your local unemployment office, community
college, town run adult education program, or chamber of commerce
to identify courses suitable for your needs. These courses are
typically very inexpensive and provide useful information, an
opportunity to network with other small business people in your
area (some of whom could probably use your services) and invaluable
emotional support. Speaking of networking, you need to get out
in your community and let people know about your services. Consider
joining a local leads group or small business association. You'll
find word of mouth advertising to be far more effective than
trying to locate employers through the Internet or the classifieds.
It does take
time to establish a word of mouth reputation, but one way you
can speed up the process is to do some work on a voluntary basis
for some worthy nonprofit institution in your area. Perhaps your
church or children's school could use some help with their projects
-in exchange you'll build up goodwill and work experience to
impress other potential clients.
Best wishes for
much success with your new venture and do let us know how you
- Q. I want to know if I
am being realistic. Here is the situation:
My husband, myself, and our 5 year old twins moved to Auburn
Washington from Houston, Texas. Auburn is a small town and I
cannot find an affordable child care for the twins (they have
part time kindergarten) I chose find a job working out of the
house. I have experience managing an office and customer service.
Is it realistic to even look for a "real" job out of
my home in a new place with no prior work experience in that
town? Or should I just get an outside job and hand the majority
of my paycheck over to a daycare?
- A. Dear Dana:
Your odds of
finding a job in a new town should be only marginally less than
your odds of finding a job in a place where you lived for several
years. It is always somewhat more difficult to locate employment
in a new locale (because you are unfamiliar with the employers
and don't have a network of contacts to rely on for leads) but
we live in a world where people move all the time and being the
new kid on the block is no longer the liability it once was.
As long as you have good skills and use smart job search strategies,
being a newcomer should not significantly impact your ability
to secure a job.
fact that you have moved to a small town means the number of
potential employers is far smaller than in Houston and with fewer
available jobs the corresponding salaries may be smaller as well.
This leads us to the second question, regarding the economics
of working out of the home when you have to pay for childcare.
Personally, I do not think it makes sense to work only to earn
enough to pay the baby-sitter and Uncle Sam. Working outside
the home has many hidden costs (commutation costs, more buying
meals out, dry-cleaning, etc.) and unless you love what you do
or want to work outside the home for personal fulfillment reasons,
starting a small home-based business may be a more realistic
option for your situation.
Before you make
any changes, sit down and analyze your situation to determine
how much pay you bring home after expenses. Then take a workshop
on starting a small business to get some idea of the steps required
to get a business off the ground. Once you have more information
to go on, it should be easier to come to a decision that makes
sense for you and your family.
| Q. Dear Nancy,
I am a mother of a 5 year old who recently started school. I
would like to work at home from my computer, but don't know where
to go to use my 8 years of typing and secretarial skills. I also
have a medical background; I took courses in High School and
worked in the field for a while. I bought a program for at home
medical billing from a reputable company, but now I can't seem
to get any customer support on getting an employer as they advertised.
I would greatly appreciate any advice.
- A. Dear K:
There are many
different ways to use your typing skills to build an at-home
business. Before investing a lot of time and money, you should
do an informal survey of your local marketplace to determine
where needs exist. Start by looking at the classifieds to see
what type of clerical/typing help companies are advertising for
help. Some of these companies may be interested in having you
do their work at home as a freelance worker. Consider attending
a meeting of your local chamber of commerce to meet other business
owners in the area who might be interested in having you type
up their brochures or manage their mailing lists. Likewise, there
could be some medical billing companies that would eagerly pass
on some of their overflow work to you on a trial basis.
Once you have
a sense of the types of services you could most easily market,
put together an attractive brochure, a rate card and start networking
like crazy. It takes perseverance and a bit of a thick skin to
get that first customer, but if you offer a good service with
reasonable rates the business should start to slowly build over
Q. Dear Nancy,
I am 39 years old and live in Miami. I am married with 1 daughter
(9 yrs old) who is mentally disabled. I have worked most of my
adult life; until my daughter was born I was a stockbroker with
Kidder Peabody. After I resigned I stayed at home with my daughter
to care for her.
- Since then,
I have started and sold my own business, a yacht chartering business
called "Sun Saik & Sea." It was perfect for me
until it became necessary for me to travel out of the country
more and more to evaluate the yachts we were chartering for our
I sold this business 2 years ago and since then I have been unable
to find work suitable for my schedule. My daughter attends school
from 8:30 - 3:00 pm; after school she has speech and physical
therapy. I do help my husband with his CPA business, but I would
like to contribute financially.
I would like to find a job that I can work at home with my computer
and where I can set my own hours. Can you please direct me in
the right direction on where to begin? I am so lost.
Thanks so much, I look forward to your response.
A. Dear Marilena,
- Using the computer
to work from home has become an increasingly viable and popular
option for moms trying to balance work and family. The possibilities
are seemingly endless so the real question becomes not, "How
can I use my computer to allow me to work from home?" but
"What types of business challenges can I help solve using
my computer that take advantage of my unique combination of skills,
interests and talents?"
- To answer that
question, spend some time identifying skills that you would like
to use in your next job. You mention that you worked as a stockbroker
and as the owner of a yacht charter company. What types of skills
did you use most effectively in those jobs? I would think that
you have strong sales skills along with the ability to handle
customers effectively. In addition to those skills, you probably
developed financial and research along with strong organizational
capabilities. Make a list of all the skills you gained on those
jobs and then narrow your list down to those skills you really
enjoyed using. The list you end up with are your motivating skills
which are a strong indicator of the types of skills you should
use in your next position.
- Once you've
come up with that list, the next step in the process is to do
some exploration to learn about ways to use your computer that
take advantage of your motivating skills. Read articles in magazines
such as Home Office Computing or books such as Making
Money With Your Computer at Home by Paul and Sarah Edwards. Even by consulting
just one or two good references, you'll read about hundreds of
options for home-based computer businesses. As you read through
the descriptions, look for opportunities thatL
- 1) utilize a
strong percentage of your motivating skills
- 2) can be realistically
done on a part-time basis and
- 3) take advantage
of your areas of expertise (i.e. sales, finance, customer service
- You will be
amazed at the amount of information you can learn about start-up
costs, training programs, ways to market your business, etc.
from these and similiar publications.
- It takes some
time but the research you do up front will pay many dividends
down the road. Don't hesitate to call other entrepreneurs who
are presently working in businesses that sound appealing. To
get started, take a look at the EP Profiles -- you're sure to
find some people with interesting business ideas who would be
happy to share their insights with you.
- All the best,
| Q. I am currently a manager of sales representatives
for a global consumer goods company. I am thinking of resigning
after 9 years with this company. My skills and experience lie
in motivating, managing and dealing with people. I am looking
to explore a consulting business to run from my home so I can
spend some more time with my 2 pre-schoolers.
Where do I start in deciding where to apply these skills? I have
a university degree in business as well.
- A. Having the ability to manage and motivate
people is a valuable skill set with many applications in the
business world. Most businesses have needs for top flight managers
who know how to keep their workers happy and productive. Working
as a consultant to help companies train their managers on effective
management, communication and motivation skills may be a good
outlet for your talents.
- The first issue
you want to address is to define your service. Ask yourself,
"what specific knowledge do I have that companies want and
are willing to pay for?" The easiest way to find an answer
to this question may be to analyze the needs of your current
employer. Perhaps they have a business problem that you are uniquely
qualified to handle and could address on a freelance basis. After
all, they know the quality of your work and may be happy to hire
you as a contractor, rather than lose you entirely.
- Likewise, a
competitor may be interested in having you as a consultant because
you possess a unique understanding of the needs of their industry.
It will be much easier to move into the consulting world if you
stay within your area of expertise and experience.
- It takes time
and patience to build a succesful consulting practice. However,
this may work to your advantage, because it will afford you time
to spend with your children while they are in the pre-school
years. Hopefully, by the time they are in elementary school,
you will have a more established work routine to your day.
- There are several
excellent resources available to help you with the logistics
of establishing your new venture. How
to Start a Service Business by Ben Chant and Melissa Morgan, The
McGraw-Hill Guide to Starting Your Own Business: A Step-by-Step
Blueprint for the First-Time Entrepreneur by Stephen C. Harper
and Run A Profitable Consulting Business: A Step-by-Step Business
by Douglas A. Gray.
- I hope this
- Q. Nancy,
We were wondering if you had any proposals on job sharing that
we could use to base our proposal on. Also if you have any other
info on this subject that you think would be helpful to us.
- Dawn and
- A. Dear Dawn and Fran,
- I congratulate
you for taking the initiative to explore job sharing. It can
be a really terrific way to stay on a professional track while
allowing more time for your personal life. Most job sharing teams
I know love their arrangement, and employers who have tried job
sharing seem to be generally enthusiastic as well.
- Like a marriage,
job share teams should be formed after careful consideration.
Before going about the task of convincing an employer to buy
into this arrangement, the two of you should have some heart
to heart discussions about your compatibility. Examine such issues
as: Do you have complimentary skills and job objectives? How
will you handle sick days, school vacation time and personal
days? Do you expect this to be a long term or interim work arrangement?
- Once you both
are confident that this is the right answer for you, take a look
at the book Going
Part-Time, The Insiders Guide For Professional Women Who Want
a Career and a Life by Cindy Tolliver and Nancy Chambers. They have
some great suggestions for writing a winning proposal to your
- Best of luck
and please let me know if I can be of further assistance!
- Q. I've been in the advertising field for 20 years.
Throughout these years, I've remained single. I plan to marry
within the next year. My fiance has 2 children ages 11 &
13. At this point of my life (I'm 46), I'd like to work at home
and pursue a career in the art (creative) field. We can't afford
for me to quit working altogether yet.
I'm not sure what to do, where to go or who to talk to, to even
bounce my thoughts off of (someone with a little more experience
in this area.)
- A. Dear Chris,
- Starting a home-based
business is an exciting but unsettling process. You're wise to
seek out assistance in the planning stages before investing significant
time or money in your venture.
the time has never been better to find resources to help in your
decison-making process. For starters, you should read some of
the excellent books available to help the fledgling entrepreneur.
You will be amazed by the variety and quality of information
available to help you select a business idea, learn the logistics
of running a business and answer the millions of questions you
have about day to day operating issues.
- After you've
gotten a general base of information, it's a good time to seek
out more personal assistance through a workshop or individual
counseling. Contact your local SCORE (Service Corp. of Retired
office for listings of their workshops on starting your own business.
Another option is to look into similiar workshops offered through
continuing education programs, community college or local small
business association. Check the business section of your local
paper to see if there are meetings of entreprenurial associations
or chamber of commerce that you might be able to attend. Those
meetings can be a terrific way to network with other small business
professionals in your field of interest.
- Finally, having
a few sessions with a career counselor who deals with entreprenurial
issues can be invaluable in helping you sort through and prioritize
key issues. Ask around for local recommendations or feel free
to contact me via my website at Collamer Career Consulting for further assistance.
- Best wishes
for much happiness with your business and upcoming marriage.
Sounds like 1999 should be quite an exciting year!
- Q. I am 31 years old, SAHM to a 5-year-old
son. Before he was born, I had over three years experience in
both magazine and book publishing here in NYC. I hold a Bachelor
of Arts in English (Magna cum Laude and departmental honors)
Hunter College. I consider myself to be a pretty sharp cookie,
but I've yet to find my proper niche.
In the years (nearly 5 1/2 now) since my son's birth, I have
held a few part-time jobs (as publishing asst. and local reporter)
and I have also worked from home (typing, writing, and handling
insurance claims for two clinical psychologists). I have also
been very active as a volunteer...I wore many hats (fundraising,
yearbook, and office administration) while serving on the board
of my son's co-op nursery school; and I am in the process of
creating a newsletter for the Astoria Community-Supported Agriculture
organization, an organic food co-op to which I belong.
I want to continue with my insurance business, but my son will
spend six hours per day at school starting in mid-September,
so I'd like to find another part-time job befitting a bright,
literate and computer-literate woman with excellent typing and
communications skills. I charge $10 per hour for my insurance
business, so I would require a salary at least a couple dollars
above that to make a position outside the home worth my interest.
I'm no snob; if I could find a receptionist position that offered
the salary I ask within a reasonable commuting distance, I'd
However, whenever I've applied for those jobs, I've been told
I was overqualified.
I would love some suggestions...and if there's anyone out there
who's worked in the claims field, especially someone who knows
about electronic claims submissions, I would be thrilled to have
Thanks for any help you can give me,
- A. Dear Liz:
- You sound like
one sharp cookie indeed! With your strong writing, computer and
organizational skills you clearly have a wide range of marketable
- Given that you
enjoy the insurance claims business, I would concentrate first
on ways of building that business before investigating other
alternatives. This is an expanding industry, with strong growth
potential for the future. Since you already have two clients,
you should have a relatively easy time finding a few more doctors
with whom you can work (as opposed to breaking into a new field).
prospecting new clients, you need to think about significantly
raising your prices! According to Priscilla Huff, author of 101
Best Home Businesses for Women, the average hourly rate for medical
claims processing services are $25-60/hr (that is based on national
averages calculated in 1995, so you also need to factor in the
higher cost of the NY metro area and adjust for inflation). As
you can see, you'd only need to add a few clients to earn considerably
more than you currently do and you would eliminate the need to
work outside of your home.
- For more information
about this field, contact the National Association of Claims
Assistance Professionals at 708-963-3500 or consult
Money in a Health Service Business on Your Home-Based PC by Rick Benzel (Windcrest/McGraw
- Best Wishes
and keep me posted on your progress.
- Q. I am currently
employed as a sixth grade teacher and I am looking for opportunties
to work out of my home. Ideally, I would like to do something
that would utilize my educational background. Do you have any
- A. Dear Angie,
- Tutoring is
the first idea that comes to mind. In my town, good tutors can
earn $25-$60/hr. It takes some marketing to get your initial
clients, but once you have a few and establish a good reputation,
it is pretty easy to attract more clients. Other ideas that take
advantage of your educational training include a birthday party
service, selling educational products such as Discovery Toys,
organizing playgroups for profit, or developing specialized workshops
on relevant topics (i.e. animals and the environment or nutritional
cooking classes for kids).
- While there
are hundreds of possibilities, the key to success is to combine
your teaching skills with your other interests to develop a service
that meets a need in your local community. Talk to your friends
and neighbors to get a sense of their needs and then begin to
brainstorm ways to help them. Once you start asking questions,
you'll be amazed at the number of good business ideas brainstorming
- Q. Hi! I'm Iris Soriano and I live in the
Philippines. I need to know where on the Net I can get help to
somewhat test what I like to do, what my skills and competencies
are vs. what I can do, home industries I can get
involved in or career path I should go down or additional education
I should get. Sort of looking for my path...
- I plan to prepare
myself to retire early from work and start something which I
will really enjoy doing, but don't know where to begin. Guess
where to begin is to get to know myself better and I need help
- Thanks and I
look forward to hearing from you soon.
- A. Hi Iris,
- You are to be
congratulated for taking the time to explore your true passions
and skills before plunging ahead with a new business opportunity
or career direction. Fortunately, there are many resources available
to help you with this quest through the web or your local library.
- Of all the many
books that have been written on personal assesment, three authors
stand out as my personal favorites. Barbara Sher's Wishcraft:
How to Get What You Really Want is a book that has truly been life-changing
for many of my clients. Sher has a wonderful way of getting you
in touch with what you really want out of life (hence, the "wish"
part of the title), as well as concrete strategies for setting
realistic goals to acheive your dreams. Richard Bolles, author
of the highly succesful What
Color Is Your Parachute? series and one of the pioneers of the
modern career development field, has an abridged version of the
Parachute book called, The Quick Job-Hunting Map that
features the key assesment exercises from the Parachute book.
I think you'll find these to be most enlightening. Finally, if
you are contemplating starting your own business, Paul and Sarah
Edwards (featured here at EP) have a wonderful book called, Finding
Your Perfect Work: The New Career Guide to Making a Living, Creating
that is sure to get your creative juices flowing.
- If, after reading
some of these books and completing their suggested exercises
you find that you still have outstanding questions, consider
hiring a professional career counselor for a few sessions. Look
for somebody who has a professional level degree in either counseling
or career development coupled with practical "hands-on"
experience with job search and assesment strategies. Some counselors
specialize in working with specific populations. You'll benefit
most if you find someone who has worked with women like yourself
with whom you can establish an easy rapport. It is so important
to find someone who you feel comfortable with. At my website,
I have highlighted some of the different ways career counseling
can assist you.
- To search for
a career counselor on the web, just input the words "career
counseling" into one of the major search engines and you
will get hundreds of listings. I can't personally vouch for these
services, but would appreciate hearing some feedback if you find
out some interesting information.
- Best of luck.
Sounds like you are about to embark on a most interesting journey!
- Q. Hi,
- I am a 30-something
mother of three, currently employed in a medical office. As I
am dissatisfied with my work situation, I am considering a home
The home-party route appeals to me, but I am not that interested
in most of the products that are offered by the industry. What
I would really like is to demonstrate and sell software for all
ages through home parties, but I have not found a line that offers
- I suppose I
have a two-part question. Are there companies with this type
of service, and if not, what would it take to launch my own?
The few people I have asked seem to think it is a good, marketable
idea, so where do I go from
- Any feedback
you could give would be appreciated.
- Thank you,
- A. Dear Anne,
- What an interesting idea!
As both a parent and an entrepreneur, I often find myself stumped
by the dizzying
array of software available and could really use some unbiased
help in making my selections.
- I checked a
couple of sources and was only able to come up with one company
similiar to what you have described:
- Succesful Software
at P.O. Box 680636, San Antonio, Texas 78268. It's probably worth
an inquiry to get a sense of how they have things structured.
- There are some
books that may be useful to you. Making $70,000 a Year as a Self-Employed
Manufacturer's Representative by Silliphant, Multi Level Money
by Jeffrey Lant and Home
Businesses You Can Buy by Sarah and Paul Edwards. While none of these
address your specific idea, they do have a lot of valuable pieces
of information to use in formulating your business plan.
- As you write
your plan, think about ways to make selling software via home
parties succesful. One of the reasons home party selling works
is because it lets the customer try out the product. I think
you might need to invest in several lap top computers to use
for demo purposes. Also, you might want to target one or two
specific populations i.e. preschool age children or home business
owners so that you can more effectively develop an expertise
and target market your services.
- Best of luck
and keep me posted on your progress!
over 12 years experience as a temp word processing specialist.
I want to get back into this, but without an agency. Any recommendations
on how I should present myself -- a letter, resume, phone call
or all of the above?
A. All of the above! Target large employers
in your area who are likely to be heavy users of temp services
and send them a professional cover letter and resume. Explain
in your cover letter that you are interested in working for them
on a temporary basis. This is one case where it makes sense to
include your hourly rate in the cover letter because your rate
is probably less than the rate charged by most agencies (which
tends to add about 25-30% for the agency cut). Follow up the
letter with a telephone call to inquire about the possibility
of a brief meeting to introduce yourself to the company, even
if they don't have any current openings. Be polite but persistent
and your efforts should pay off in no time!