A Stay-At-Home Mom’s Guide To Jobs & Earning Extra Income
Written by 36creative on February 15, 2018
A Stay-At-Home Mom’s Guide To Jobs & Earning Extra Income
If you’re a stay-at-home mom looking for a job or just some extra income, welcome! You’re absolutely in the right place. This guide includes a step-by-step process to earning extra income—from identifying extra income opportunities all the way through building your network of support.
We’ll walk you through these steps, chapter by chapter, to help you visualize your opportunities so you can learn about stay-at-home-mom jobs and find the best one for you and your family. Let’s get started!
Chapter 1: Popular Stay-At-Home-Mom Jobs Today
Whether you’re looking for a full-time job, a part-time opportunity, or a chance to earn a little extra to help make ends meet, one of the best options for women is finding a “mom job.” Regardless of your motivations, the first step toward starting your own home-based business is exploring what’s available. It can be an intimidating prospect, but once you know what’s out there, you can figure out what’s best for you.
There are three options for “stay-at-home mom jobs”: You can work for yourself, you can work for someone else, or you can work with someone else.
Working For Yourself
Your first option is to go into business for yourself. These types of businesses generally start because your hobbies grow into something more, or your skill set is highly regarded and needed by others. The business model for these jobs is pretty simple: You create a good or hone a skill set, then you reach out and find people who want the good or need the skill. You sell it to them. Easy in concept; slightly more complicated in execution.
The internet has made reaching people and promoting your home business a lot easier. A great place to get started with home business is Etsy, an online marketplace that hosts thousands of vendors selling handmade items, collectibles, and customized pieces. If crafting isn’t your thing, you can start a business out of your home selling whatever you have the skill to produce: baked goods, furniture, fresh vegetables. If you can supply it, odds are you can find a market for it.
If your hobby isn’t centered on creating tangible things, you can use your talents to offer a service. Perhaps you’re always offering advice to friends and family, or maybe you love helping people. You can set up shop as a consultant in whatever field you love and are trained for, anything from freelance creativity to financial consultation to childcare. Whatever the case, you can use your skills to earn more money on the side, or launch a full-time career working from home.
When you work for yourself, you have an independence you’ll never have in other home-based jobs. You have the satisfaction of setting your own goals, determining your own methods of working, choosing which projects to undertake—essentially steering the course of your own career. Success is hard-earned and even sweeter than when you work for someone else.
Of course, independence has its own stressors, like meeting business legal requirements, or payment collection. If you think taxes are frustrating, imagine filing taxes when you’re working for yourself. It’s no picnic. There’s no backup, no support structure. Just you and your home office against the world.
It can be stressful, frustrating, and scary to venture out as an entrepreneur. But it can also be immensely rewarding. In the end, you have to decide for yourself whether you’re willing to take the plunge.
For the future entrepreneurs out there, here are a number of resources to help you brainstorm ideas and figure out the logistics and legalities of working from home as your own boss:
Working For Someone Else
You have plenty of hobbies and talents, but maybe starting your own business is about as appealing to you as wine bought at a gas station. You’re not alone—the most common career choice is to work for someone else.
This particular model takes two forms:
You can do an office-type job from your computer at home, connecting with the rest of your team virtually. Thanks to the internet, many companies both large and small are allowing their employees to work from home.
You can work part-time, on your own schedule, and anywhere you choose. An increasing number of services are reaching out to home-based workers who can serve as virtual assistants, medical claims billing representatives, and data entry associates.
These types of positions have a lot of the advantages of working for yourself but with corporate backup and policies, and a guaranteed paycheck. The right person in the right position will find that her productivity skyrockets when working from home, rather than from the distracting environment of a traditional office. Plus, all the legal ramifications of starting and running a business are handled by your employer.
But just like working in an office, there are drawbacks to working for someone else, even when you get to work from home. If you don’t enjoy the work, it becomes tedious and your productivity can plummet—more than it would if you were working in an office.
Should you choose to go into online tech support or transcription, you’ll likely need training and certifications, which are out-of-pocket expenses you pay before your first paycheck comes in.
Still, the lure of working from home can be strong and shouldn’t be dismissed without further research. Interested in learning more about ways to work for someone else, from home? Get a jumpstart here:
Working With Someone Else
You know you want to work from home. You’re pretty sure you don’t want to start your own business, but you don’t love the idea of working for someone else, either. Another option is to work with someone else, which most often takes the form of direct marketing or selling.
A number of companies have achieved incredible success by allowing people to work with them instead of for them. Just about every industry has its own success story: Cosmetics has Mary Kay and Avon. Jewelry has Silpada and Stella & Dot. There are the well-known kitchen goods companies like Pampered Chef and Tupperware. There’s even a company called Pure Romance that allows people to market and sell items for date night.
Of course, we like to think the best kind of date night involves good wine, and you can find people marketing wine with us at Traveling Vineyard. For every hobby and favorite pastime there seems to be an opportunity to do it for income, from home.
Photo credit: Maranda Baimbridge
This option combines the benefits of working for yourself and working for someone else. It provides flexibility and the ability to do something you enjoy. Choose your level of involvement and your schedule, just like an entrepreneur, but avoid the legal stressors that come from starting your own business. You get the logistical support and backup as if you worked for someone else, but you don’t have to pay for your own training.
Like the others, this particular home-based business idea for moms has its unique drawbacks. You’re responsible for your own promotion, for recruiting a team, and for making sure the product is sold as quickly as possible. Many of these companies require that you purchase and carry stock, which can be an expensive upfront cost. Be careful to fully investigate any company to make sure there are no surprises: There’s a big difference between marketing with a company (which doesn’t require you to buy and carry stock) and selling with a company (which means you have to purchase products for future sales).
Curious to investigate some of these types of products and companies? Start your research here:
Common Stay At Home Jobs For Moms
1. Direct Sales
There are different types of direct sales companies that offer work-from-home jobs for moms. In our article Direct Sales Jobs & Opportunities: What Are They? we talk about the different methods of direct selling:
- The party plan (of which Traveling Vineyard is a good example)
- One-on-one demonstrations
- Personal contact arrangements
- Internet sales
We don’t hide the fact that we think direct selling is the cream of the crop of business ideas for stay-at-home moms. When moms partner with reputable direct sales companies (those that are members in good standing of the Direct Selling Association, like Traveling Vineyard), they have a chance to build their futures while still being present with their kids.
- There’s excellent earning potential. Many direct selling jobs give women the opportunity to set their own ceiling when it comes to income. At Traveling Vineyard, our Wine Guides are not employees—they’re entrepreneurs, and they make the decisions about how many or how few wine tastings they host, how many hours they put in, and how much money they want to make. They also have the ability to build teams, find mentors and mentees, and earn incentive trips and other achievement perks.
- Direct sales is social. You have the chance to meet new friends, reconnect with old ones, and do fun stuff! From clothing to food to lifestyle/home products, there’s a direct selling opportunity for everything you’re interested in.
- You can work from home almost exclusively. Except for events, you can do your entire direct selling job from the comfort of your home. That means you can spend time with your family to your heart’s desire and then, when you have chances to focus on work, do it from your living room, kitchen table, or office! And events like our wine tastings give you the chance to escape for a couple of hours of adult conversation and fun. It’s a sweet deal!
- Some direct selling opportunities get bad names from pyramid schemes and other sales tactics that aren’t legit. Unfortunately, some women get trapped in these shady endeavors that cast a pall on our whole industry. We talk about this—and how to make sure you’re working with a reputable direct selling company—in our article, Direct Sales Jobs & Opportunities: What Are They?
My best advice? Make sure any company you’re considering working with is a member of the DSA and Better Business Bureau (BBB), and do your research to make sure you understand what you’re signing up for! You can find out more about what sets some direct sales companies apart in our article, Differences in Direct Sales Companies.
- You can bring your kids along. Moms who work in childcare can either bring their young children along with them while working, or they provide childcare from their own homes. That means your own children get a few playmates every day!
- You can set your own hours. You may choose to work normal 8-5(ish) hours, but you do have the flexibility to set schedules that work for your family as you choose the childcare job that works for you.
- You must abide by licensing rules and regulations in some cases. You may be subject to the licensing and certifications rules and regulations of your state in order to provide childcare legally, particularly out of your own home. That means you’ll need to take time to learn the laws, understand your responsibilities, and pay taxes on your income.
- Parenting can be hard enough, and with childcare, you’re adding one or more additional children to your life—which can be hectic and exhausting.
- You may lose holidays and off days. As a childcare provider, you may be expected to work on school and federal holidays, during breaks, etc., when children may be home from school but parents are still in the office.
- Paychecks may be inconsistent. Depending on your childcare schedule, there may be breaks (sometimes long breaks) between paychecks due to vacations, winter and holiday breaks, etc. You will also have to add new children as others leave.
- With retail, you can work evening and weekend hours and stay home with your children during the weekdays.
- Generally, there’s no special degree or experience needed. You can likely land a retail job no matter your background as long as you have a willingness to learn and an interest in customer service and the product you’re selling.
- You may get store discounts as a perk. Depending on where you work, the discounts could be valuable, for instance, discounted clothes or food.
- As a part-time working mom, you may be pushed into holiday scheduling and odd hours that aren’t conducive for family time.
- Pay can be variable in retail. Some places may pay well while others may not.
Education jobs for stay-at-home moms include opportunities for teaching foreign languages remotely via computer as well as high-school-level and college courses that are conducted online. You could give lessons or offer after-school tutoring. If you are willing to work away from home part time, you could also consider substitute teaching, full-time teaching (with summers off), working as a teacher’s aide or paraprofessional, or working as a college professor.
- Educators generally have summers off as well as school holidays and breaks. If you have older children, your schedule can align perfectly with their breaks.
- School hours are regular and predictable, and most likely match closely with your own child’s daily schedule.
- Working in education is rewarding and personally fulfilling!
- Working in education may require specialized degrees and ongoing education. This can cost you extra and also require additional time commitments.
- You can’t work from home with an education job—you’ll have to go into work at least for a few hours a day.
5. Real Estate
- You can do a significant amount of the work from home and pick and choose your volume. You can also choose your client base—some agents work exclusively with people they know!
- Real estate is a great way to connect with people in your community.
- To work as an agent you must pass exams and earn licenses and accreditations, which will require studying.
- Most successful real estate agents have an interest and/or background in business and sales.
- You sometimes have to drop everything and cater to clients’ schedules. This may be at odds with your idea of focusing on your family as a stay-at-home-mom, and it may cause headaches when clients schedule showings or meetings at inopportune times.
From restaurants to hotels to events and catering, hospitality offers many job possibilities for stay-at-home moms.
- Hospitality jobs take you outside the home a couple hours a week, so you get adult interaction.
- You can do many hospitality jobs on weekends or evenings exclusively.
- On the flip side, working weekends may mean missing out on family time.
- You may also have to skip events like weddings, baby showers, parties, etc. because you have to work.
Creative hobbies like photography, handmade arts and crafts, and blogging are interesting ways for stay-at-home moms to make extra income.
- The creative work you are skilled at is also something you enjoy so getting paid to do it is an added bonus!
- You can do almost any type of job in this category from home and during off-hours.
- Is the effort you’re putting into your job translating into acceptable income? It’s tempting to invest more money in something you love to do—but you have to be make sure you’re actually getting a return on investment.
- This type of job is actually a small business. You won’t be successful unless you understand marketing, taxes, legal requirements, and more.
- You may not be able to earn a regular income with these types of jobs, as there will be significant ebb and flow in the purchasing habits of your clientele.
8. Home Staging & Interior Design
- Like hobbyist jobs, staging and interior design are both creative work that you may already like to do.
- In choosing this work, you might also be setting the stage for a future career once your children fly the coop!
- Consider the cost of this type of work. You’ll likely have storage costs for staging items, start-up costs for building inventory, purchasing costs, and more.
- You’ll need to build strong relationships with contractors and real estate agents in your area to grow your business, which will involve time spent networking.
- Again, you need to understand marketing, taxes, insurance, and the other finer details of independent small business management.
- These types of jobs will require significant time spent outside your home.
9. Home Health Aide/Companion
- Home health aides and companions can usually work flexible schedules—part-time, full-time, weekends, weekdays, a combination of both, and even overnights.
- This type of job is rewarding in that it provides companionship and gives you a new perspective on life that you may not get otherwise.
- Depending on what type of companionship you want to provide (and whether or not you’re providing medical care), there may be licensing or certification requirements.
- You’ll need to take routine CPR and first aid classes in addition to any specialized care classes.
- You may not always get to choose your schedule.
10. Computer Jobs
Computer-based occupations you can do from home include customer service, translation services, transcription, data entry, and mystery shopper jobs.
- You can do these types of jobs exclusively from home and often on your own schedule.
- You do not need much (if any) experience.
- Certain computer-based jobs pay very well.
- Many of these jobs require a certain personality, specifically customer service. It can be draining to address complaints and problems in a professional manner day-in and day-out.
- Some computer jobs aren’t reputable. You must do your due diligence to make sure you’re not being scammed or taken advantage of.
- Many of these types of jobs are short-term fixes; they may not maintain your interest or be at your skill level; thus, you can burn out easily.
Fitness jobs can include anything from yoga, pilates, spin, and barre to personal training, boot camp instructing, and working as a nutritionist.
- With this type of job, you get the best of both worlds: You’re getting paid to keep yourself in good physical condition! You can prioritize both your health and your income at once.
- The time commitment is just one to two hours at a time; often, that time includes free childcare and gym usage.
- This type of job also has a great social aspect—you have a built-in opportunity to meet like-minded people who have similar interests as you.
- With these jobs, the pay varies significantly.
- You will need to take classes for ongoing training and certifications, as well as first aid and CPR certifications.
12. Cleaning Services
For many moms, offering a cleaning service (or working for one) may be an opportunity to do something they enjoy for added income.
Regardless Of The How, You Need To Know The Who
Women who follow through on their home-based business ideas generally have a few personality traits that help propel them toward success. These qualities don’t ensure you’ll make millions, but they’ll definitely help you achieve whatever goals you set for yourself.
- Home-based jobs are best for people who are self-driven, motivated, and independent. You don’t have a boss or coworkers looming over your shoulders waiting for you to get things done. You’re your own safety net, and hold yourself accountable.
- Home-based workers should be organized and detail-oriented. You need to be able to keep on top of everything without anyone reminding you.
- They are teachable and willing to learn from experience. You can’t let failures and setbacks stop your momentum, but you also have to be able to identify new ways of doing things when one approach fails. You’ll have to acquire new skills on the fly as your business grows and evolves.
- A home-based business requires someone who is willing to work and persevere through trying times. Small home businesses can take a while to get off the ground, and without a lot of padding in your teeny-tiny corporate budget, you’ll feel the discomfort of the lean months. If you’re not willing to push forward, you won’t last long enough to come out the other side.
- Working from home means you must be an effective communicator. You’re speaking for yourself to your customers and your vendors, responsible for your own marketing and promotion and clearly conveying what you offer and what you need. If you’re working from home for someone else, you need to be able to give your virtual coworkers the scope, scale, and context for the projects you’re working on to keep them in the loop.
Based on your personality and what makes you—and your budget—most comfortable, look into all your options for jobs that allow you to work from home. We can help you figure out which path is best for you—just check out the questionnaire below!
Once you’ve completed the questionnaire, move on to the next chapter and hone in on which of the best jobs for stay at-home moms is best for you.
Chapter 2: Choosing The Right Work-From-Home Job For You
So you’ve decided that working from home is an opportunity you want to pursue. But how do you get started? First, define what you need from a job, and then use your “must-have” list to identify which stay-at-home mom job is the best match. There are two key questions to ask:
- Why do you want to work from home? What benefits do you hope to get from the experience? There’s no right or wrong answer—we promise.
- What’s going to make working from home difficult for you? What are your limitations? Brutal honesty will only help you in the long run.
What do you want from your work-from-home experience?
The first thing you need to know when you start narrowing down your work-from-home options is what you want from the experience.
Everyone has her own reasons, but there are definitely some common themes. Check them out below, and if you still have questions, you can refer to our handy checklist for picking an extra income opportunity that fits you.
Most women who are trying to find the right home-based business are motivated at least in part because they need or want additional income. The amount needed, coupled with the constraints you face in working from home, will factor into which home-based business is best for you. How much money you’ll make is likely going to be the most difficult thing to analyze unless you’re working for a company with a guaranteed salary, but most organizations help you project the possibilities.
Take a moment to consider your financial requirements. Think about how much you’d like to earn, whether it’s just enough to take one bill off the family income or the equivalent of a full-time salary.
Paycheck aside, some people seek out home-based employment because they’re craving a challenge and a sense of accomplishment. If this is a big priority for you, it will also have an impact on which opportunity you should pursue. What gives you a sense of achievement? Is it the completion of specific projects and having a physical representation of your efforts? If so, you should focus on something craft-based, like opening your own Etsy shop or working for someone else with an at-home assembly job. (You’d probably be miserable as a data-entry clerk.)
On the other hand, people who are introverted, and prefer a minimal level of interaction with others would probably enjoy data entry. The solid sense of meeting your self-set goals—whether task-based or financially-oriented—can be enough to fill someone with pride. And finding an organization that is rich in rewards and recognition will benefit anyone hoping for a sense of accomplishment.
Are you seeking a sense of accomplishment? What makes you feel proud of yourself? Is it important to you that the work you do bring you joy?
Many people who take on work-at-home jobs are looking for a venue for meeting new people. Either they’re stay-at-home parents who spend most of their free time with their kids, or they just moved and are looking to make friends.
Of course, some people are already pretty happy with the friends they have and aren’t looking for a new community. Introverts and extroverts alike may be looking for work that lets them put their heads down and forge ahead.
Is meeting and interacting with new people exciting for you? Are you looking for a supportive community of like-minded individuals? Or are you strictly interested in professional opportunities?
While the motivations listed above are some of the most common reasons people choose a particular home-based business, they are by no means the only ones. Stop and really consider what else is motivating you to seek out a stay-at-home mom job.
Is there a product or mission you’re particularly passionate about? Are you interested in learning or trying something new? Are you worried about job security? Do you fiercely guard your independence? What other criteria are you considering?
What’s going to make working from home difficult for you?
In addition to motivations, all job seekers have constraints or limitations they must work within that are unique to their lives and circumstances. In the last post, we discussed some personality constraints: If you’re a crafty extrovert, medical claims billing from home will bore you to tears even if the money is bankrolling your Cristal and caviar lifestyle. You’ll be miserable while you work.
You have to balance why you want to work from home with the facts. What parameters must you consider when you’re weighing your home-based business opportunities?
Time and Flexibility
Think about your schedule. How much time can you devote to working from home, and at what hours? Do you want to work 10 hours a week or 40? If you jump into something that doesn’t let you work often enough or demands too much of your time, it’s not right for you.
It’s not just about the number of hours, either. It’s about the flexibility. Some positions, like home-based telemarketing, require workers to be available at certain times during the day. That might not work if you’ve got kids to watch or shuttle, or if you’re taking on a home-based business in addition to a full-time job. If you need flexibility, working for yourself or direct marketing and selling is probably best for you. Want a strict schedule? Working for a company as a virtual assistant, transcriptionist, or in another position is a better idea.
Stop and consider: What does your average week look like? What are your scheduling needs?
Overhead Costs and Training
Can you afford to pay overhead costs for training? Medical transcription and other positions that require training can cost thousands upfront, but they may also offer higher pay. Direct selling often means carrying stock in whatever you’re selling: makeup, kitchen accessories, jewelry, or any number of other options. Perform due diligence to make sure you know exactly what to expect in upfront costs—no one likes this kind of surprise.
Stop and consider: How much can you afford to pay upfront? Will you get the training you require or do you need to provide it yourself?
Speaking of keeping inventory on hand: Do you have the physical space in your life for whatever you choose to do? If you’re in a studio apartment or drive a tiny hatchback, you don’t have room for a ton of boxes. On the other hand, taking calls as an at-home call center representative means you’d need a quiet space with reliable phone service and fast internet. Home-based crafters need space both to work and to store their creations and supplies. A carpenter and a soapmaker have vastly different requirements for space, materials, and storage.
Stop and consider: Take a look around the home you’ll be basing your business out of. What are its physical limitations that might impact your job choice?
Time, fees, and space are important factors to consider, and if you sacrifice too much of any of those, you won’t last long at your job.
Take a minute to consider other possible limitations. Are you physically capable of doing what each job requires? Will your friends and family approve of your choice? Will you need transportation you don’t already have? Are you worried about your workload?
|Weigh your goals with whatever factors will hinder your success and start narrowing down your list of possible work-from-home jobs.|
It takes a little time to weed through the results of your research, but it’s worth it. Next up is an even more important part of the process. And just in case you were wondering about how Traveling Vineyard Wine Guides answer these questions, check out our Wine Guide Benefits.
Do Your Research
“This ad says I can make $3,000 a week working from home! Awesome!” Signing up for a home-based business opportunity without doing some intense research first puts you at high risk of being scammed. Making over six figures from home is possible … but there’s going to be a lot of fine print on that paycheck. Choose jobs that outline their compensation plan in clear and credible terms. You know the old adage: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Basic Due Diligence
Imagine your best friend questioning you about your stay-at-home job. Could you answer all her likely questions, like how long the company has been in business, what training and support the company offers, fees and costs associated with doing the job, and what exactly the company does? Have you checked out the company’s ranking on the Better Business Bureau (BBB)? When selling your wares online, is Etsy, eBay, or another site better for your goods, and what are their fees per post? Searching online is the fastest and easiest way to find these answers. Just be sure to review multiple reputable resources.
Other Signs Of Legitimacy
Beyond just gathering vital stats, there are other clues you can track down to learn more about the business you’re considering:
- Does it have an active, well-maintained website?
- Is its social media presence welcoming and positive?
- Do the BBB and Direct Selling Association, along with other reputation management websites like Glassdoor, have an overall positive rating of the organization?
Ask The Experts
One of the best ways to figure out if a home business opportunity is legitimate is to ask people with firsthand experience. If you know people who are (or were) active within the organization (or if you can find them through the website or on social media), ask for their brutally honest opinions. What do/did they like about it? What frustrates them? When did they quit and why (if applicable)?
Trust your gut. Even easier, trust your face: If you’re reading the company’s site or a review by the BBB and find yourself frowning or pursing your lips, that’s not a good thing. Your time, money, and efforts are precious. Don’t give them up without making sure it’s worth it.
Just To Recap
If you’ve been following along, here are the questions you should have asked and answered for each item on your list of possibilities:
- Does this job match my personality, interests, and skills?
- Does this job align with the goals and benefits I’m seeking?
- Does this job fit within my unique constraints?
- Is this a legitimate, proven business model?
Ask these questions for every company or opportunity you’re looking into during your quest to find the perfect home-based business.
Chapter 3: Success With Direct Sales
Some of the best careers & jobs for stay-at-home moms are offered by direct sales businesses. There are several different direct sales models out there for moms to choose from. Channels include the following:
- Party Plan: You might be familiar with this business model if you have attended or hosted a party with a Pampered Chef consultant or a Beautycounter consultant. Traveling Vineyard also follows the party plan model. For example, a host invites a Traveling Vineyard Wine Guide to a social event at their home, where potential customers get a chance to sample and order the company’s products.
- Multi-Level Marketing (MLM): A distribution and compensation method of direct selling where individuals sell products to the public and receive compensation for recruiting new salespeople to act as a team under them. MLM is typically an optional aspect of many direct selling businesses and designed for those who have an interest in team building, team nurturing and training.
- Network Marketing: A business model in which a distributor network is needed to build the business. Usually such businesses are also multilevel marketing in nature in that payouts occur at more than one level. (Entrepreneur) A characteristic of this model is person-to-person sales, like Avon and Beachbody, and not a party plan model, like Traveling Vineyard and Pampered Chef.
- Social Media Marketing and Online Marketing: This business model operates strictly via social media or online sales, and does not incorporate the “personal” aspect of selling as much as a Party Plan model, for example. This model can be used in addition to any of the other models mentioned here.
So, which one should you choose?
|“Learning to choose is hard. Learning to choose well is harder. And learning to choose well in a world of unlimited possibilities is harder still, perhaps too hard.” —Barry Schwartz, The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less|
For stay-at-home moms interested in becoming entrepreneurs in the direct sales industry, the idea Schwartz speaks of—“choosing well”—is an interesting one. As of November 2017, the DSA lists more than 140 companies in good standing on its website—and that doesn’t count the applications pending. Many women are so overwhelmed by the sheer number of companies to choose from that they don’t ever make a choice at all—a decision they may regret.
So how can you identify which direct selling company is best for you? Here are five criteria to help you analyze direct sales jobs. Applying them to your own options will help you make an educated decision that works for you.
1. Is it fun?
We believe any direct selling opportunity you pursue should be fun first and foremost. Do the stay-at-home mom job ideas and direct sales jobs you’re considering sell something that interests you? Do you have friends and family who are also interested in the product? If you can’t answer “yes,” then you should revisit whether this is an opportunity you can see yourself happily involved with—and interested in—for years down the road.
|“I am thankful to be a Wine Guide with Traveling Vineyard because it gives me a break from my stressful full-time job. It allows me to meet new people, make great friendships, share my love of wine with others and HAVE FUN! Sharing our amazing wine products and earning money for my son’s activities outside of school, family vacations, and even covering unexpected bills in the household is also a HUGE bonus! I am grateful for Rick Libby and his cheerleaders for the support Traveling Vineyard provides to help run my business.” – Amanda White, One-Star Leader|
2. Is it flexible?
One of the benefits of direct selling is that you can set your own schedule. To dig deeper into the structure and flexibility of your potential company, be sure you ask the following questions:
- Who sets my schedule?
- What are the expectations for how many hours I work?
- Will I be docked—pay or otherwise—if I don’t meet a minimum number of sales?
- Who decides how many events I will host?
- Do I have to work on holidays, weekends, etc.?
- Are there regularly scheduled meetings I am required to attend?
3. Is it financially rewarding?
The most obvious question is the one that’s probably already on your mind: Will I get paid well with this direct selling opportunity?
First, consider your financial goals for your side hustle job: Do you want to make a little extra income, or a little more? Once you’ve identified your goals, see how they compare to the expected compensation from your prospective direct selling companies. Check out compensation plans and find out how people within those companies got to the place you want to be—how many hours of work they average, their initial investment costs, etc.
For example, at Traveling Vineyard, most of our Wine Guides earn an average of $80-$100 per event but the size of your paycheck depends entirely on what works for you—how much time you want to dedicate to events, to building your team, to growing your business. As you build a team you will also start to earn money for the success of your downline team members. Add in the bonuses you get for achieving various goals and benchmarks and it can have a significant impact toward helping you meet your financial goals.
4. Is it fulfilling?
Have you ever heard the saying, “Do something you love and you’ll never have to do a day of work in your life”? Before you roll your eyes thinking that a fulfilling side hustle job is a pie-in-the-sky dream, take note: An article I recently read in The Week describes—based on scientific research—aspects required to find fulfilling work. The author lists the following (among others):
- Know that money alone isn’t meaningful.
- Use your talents.
- Make a difference.
- Pursue your passion.
5. Will it help you build friendships?
An interesting article we came across recently focused on the importance of social interaction for mental and physical health—definitely something to consider when it comes to your work.
“As the Harvard Women’s Health Watch reported, ‘Dozens of studies have shown that people who have satisfying relationships with family, friends and their community are happier, have fewer health problems, and live longer.’”
Because our work is such a huge part of our lives—whether we’re in an office or working from home—it’s important to be connected to others. Here are a few signs to look out for as to whether a particular direct selling job will help you build friendships:
- You’re part of a team invested in your success.
- You’ll have a lot in common with the people you’re working with.
- You can talk to people anytime, and you have chances to meet up at regional meetings and events.
- You get to meet new people as often as you’d like.
|“Being a full-time mom who had put herself in a bubble for so many years, this company has provided me with the opportunities to break free of my shell, become more independent, gain new friends, reconnect with old ones and just have a whole new outlook on life. Because of Traveling Vineyard, I have become a better mom, wife, and friend. I have gained a sense of accomplishment and better self-worth. This company has truly changed my life in more ways than can be explained and I am beyond grateful for that.” – Autumn Stivers, Three-Star Leader, Traveling Vineyard|
Direct Selling: Facts Vs. Fears
Some moms are skeptical of joining a direct selling company. Everyone’s heard a horror story or two about demanding quotas and event dead zones and the pressure to sell, sell, sell.
Fortunately, these fears are pretty easy to refute. For many people, the prize for facing their fear is a fun, financially rewarding job that fills in the edges of a busy life, and enhances your home life by adding extra income without infringing on time spent with your family.
|“In the last seven years, direct sales has grown almost 6% to a $34.5 billion industry.”|
Direct Selling Association
There’s a reason the direct sales industry has seen steady growth over the last decade or so. That’s why some of our Wine Guides have come together to fight the fears with some facts about a direct sales business with Traveling Vineyard:
- I’ll have to spend more money than I make.
- No one I know is going to be interested.
- This is going to overload my busy schedule.
- I don’t know anything about wine.
- I’ll have to be pushy and end up driving my friends away.
- There are low fees, no quotas, and real profits.
- Good wine with friends in a comfortable setting is a natural draw, time and again.
- A flexible schedule and a fun job create a healthy balance.
- Traveling Vineyard will teach you everything you need to know about wine.
- You don’t have to be pushy to succeed, and your friends and family will support the things that make you happy.
So don’t let your fears keep you from starting something new, something that has a chance to change your world—just like it changed the lives of these Wine Guides. And just in case you were wondering, Traveling Vineyard is BBB accredited with an A+ rating and a member of the Direct Selling Association.
Chapter 4: Setting Up A Home-Based Business
Once you’ve decided on your business venture, there are a few important decisions to be made during the set-up process.
In general, home-based businesses must comply with certain legal and financial requirements, so you’ll want to consult with experts and people you trust.
Be A Legal Eagle
Each home-based business option requires different paperwork. A woman who starts her own graphic design company has different legal legwork than someone who works for a company as tech support, or someone hosting parties to sell home goods.
One of the great things about working for yourself is that it cuts down on the number of people you have to answer to, but it also means you don’t have a human resources department to contact with questions. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, “you need to be sure you have the right licenses or permits, make estimated tax payments on time, report your earnings each year, and deal with client paperwork such as contracts, non-disclosure agreements, and more.”
When you work for a company, talk to the human resources department to find out if you’re considered a regular or contract employee.
There are a lot of different ways to set up a business. Companies that hire people to work with them often regard home-based employees as independent contractors and will work with you as an individual. (That’s the case with Traveling Vineyard. It’s really very simple—no extra legalities required.)
If you’re starting your own business from scratch, find out if you should be licensed as a limited liability company (LLC), a sole proprietorship, or as a “doing business as” company (also known as a DBA). If you’re unfamiliar with the ins and outs of these different kinds of companies, you’ll want to discuss your options with a trusted legal advisor.
In some cases, working for a company is as easy as filling out a simple contract and then submitting invoices to its accounts payable department once you’ve finished a particular project. Make sure, if this is the case, that you keep track of all money invoiced and received so you can accurately include the additional income when you file taxes. You’ll also want to check with your accountant or the company’s human resources department to verify your tax situation and fill out any necessary paperwork for the IRS.
Regardless of the option you chose, you will likely need to complete important paperwork, all of which should be saved and filed for future reference.
Now that the paperwork has been completed submitted, approved, and filed, it’s time to work on your financial setup. Keep your business financials separate from your personal finances. You can certainly do your business accounting yourself, or you can hire an accountant. Do whatever works best for you.
Do you need to open a separate business bank account? This is a common move, even for the smallest of businesses, but not everyone will need one. Separate business checking and credit card accounts are a great way to stay organized financially and to keep track of the financial health of your home-based business. Again, it’s up to you.
For those of you who love Excel, are you going to use it to track your finances? Whether it’s that program or some other software, it’s crucial to keep your business’s debits and credits organized. An added benefit of tracking expenses is that you can see where you spend the majority of your money. If you need to, you can open corporate accounts with suppliers when you find yourself purchasing the same things often enough or in high-enough volume.
If you’re in doubt, it’s always best to consult an expert, especially for something like income tax for the self-employed.
Home Sweet Office
Now that you’ve got that shiny new business paperwork and you’ve figured out your finances, you need a filing cabinet to put it in. Or do you want to use a binder? An expanding file folder? Where are you going to put all this stuff? It’s time to go shopping!
The physical set-up for your home-based business is an important part of feeling like a legitimate business person, even if you’re still wearing sweatpants. Where are you going to work? Do you need a desk, table, special chair, or space to create your product? Do you need to be mobile? Where and how will you organize your documents? (About.com recommends using binders to file important documents so they can easily be transported “for signing up representatives, hosting product parties or quickly referencing customer orders.”)
Carpenters will need a completely different workspace than virtual personal assistants, and they will likely need to extend that workspace into their vehicles.
A virtual worker will need an entirely different set of tools, including fast internet, a reliable computer, and a quiet location. Is a landline necessary, or will a cell phone do? Should you have a cell phone just for business use?
For any enterprising business person, branding is an important step. Consider whether you’ll need a logo and branded stationery, or if there are any trade publications you should subscribe to. Continuous learning helps you get ahead.
The good news is that many of your business expenses can be deducted on your taxes. Check out this quick list of common tax deductions from SheKnows, which advises keeping careful records of anything you plan to list in your taxes, and quotes Deborah Sweeney, the CEO of MyCorporation Business Services, as saying, “It is important to record what was spent, the date, [and] to whom it was paid.”
Marketing In The Modern Age
Back in the day, most of us only heard about new businesses that were big enough to really market their businesses. Times have definitely changed for the better. The internet has made it easier than ever for home-based businesses and entrepreneurs to promote their goods or services. With that in mind, let’s talk about your digital setup needs.
Will your business be well served by marketing via a personal web page? There are plenty of free site-making tools if you’re looking for something simple. If you are looking for a more custom, robust site, Entrepreneur Magazine has some recommendations for you to consider.
Depending on the business you’re starting, you might consider instead joining a specialized community site like Etsy to sell your goods, or one of the many freelancer sites to find assignments and connect with peers and customers alike.
Finally, there are very few better ways to promote a business or connect with the right people than by using social media. It just takes a little bit of exploring to figure out which sites will serve you best—Facebook is popular and easy-to-use. Many home-based businesses set up a business page there.
Be sure to evaluate all the social media sites to see which ones will best help you grow your business. Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and YouTube are the most popular right now. You likely don’t need all of them, but you should use at least one.
Keep your online presence professional. Your online presence is a huge part of your personal branding. You may be working in your pajamas, but that doesn’t mean your work isn’t worthy of formal wear.
And while you’re getting to know your business community online, keep an eye out for information on offline opportunities as well. Find ways to get involved in your industry’s local community. Are there advertisements for networking events or industry conferences? Craft fairs, trade shows, and even just chatting with people at your town’s supply stores can be excellent opportunities for promoting your business.
3… 2… 1… Liftoff!
Congratulations—it’s time to launch your home-based business! Are you ready? According to Entrepreneur Magazine, “the word ‘hustler’ has a negative connotation, but it is an extremely important trait in the startup world. Being a true hustler means being a persistent self-starter who kicks butts and takes names.”
|As someone working in a home-based business, it’s your turn to hustle, make some money, and have some fun.|
When you work for yourself, launching means creating your products or refining your service offerings, and then promoting your wares. As discussed previously, there are a host of ways to promote your work; you can also get ahead by making your clients and customers happy enough to recommend you to their friends.
When you work for someone else, launching your home-based business is generally as easy as logging onto the network and getting started. It’s like many “normal” 9-5 jobs, just without a cubicle farm.
In direct marketing and sales, it’s a matter of hosting your first event and promoting it. Having a company behind you generally makes working from home easier, as there’s an automatic, built-in community to support you. At Traveling Vineyard, new Wine Guides are automatically eligible for a Fast Start incentive program that’s designed specifically to help new entrepreneurs establish momentum from the start.
Use your community. Reach out for help and consult with experts, especially when you’re navigating legal and financial matters. To get you started, we have a checklist that will help you determine if you’ve asked all the right questions:
Chapter 5: Building A Support Network
Working from home may meet the requirements of your schedule, but flying solo has its challenges. That’s why it’s so important to connect with other entrepreneurs as often as you can. Here are a few ways you can create your own support network to keep you connected and energized.
Small Business Organizations
You’re probably aware of the growing trend to support small businesses and trends like #shoplocal or #shopsmall. Guess what? When you work from home and run your own business, this all applies to YOU! So, reach out and build relationships with other small businesses in your area via your local Chamber of Commerce. These business relationships can help you stay in the know when it comes to local business issues and will help you market your business for growth.
Women In Business Organizations
When women in business support other women in business, we rise together. As with the small business groups, your local Chamber of Commerce can assist you in locating a local women-in-business organization. Not only will those relationships inspire and inform you, they just might bring new customers and clients your way.
No matter what work-from-home opportunity you choose, there’s probably an industry organization made up of like-minded people working in a field they all know and love. In direct selling, look to a group made up of other independent representatives or consultants. Perhaps the parent company you work for can connect you with a Facebook group or local meetup.
|“So thankful for the family that this company has become. When things get hard, personally, I realize I’ve started turning to my wine family first. There is such a deep bond that forms through the amazing experiences we have been given. This opportunity has changed my family’s life and we will never be the same. Traveling Vineyard for life!” – Elizabeth Allen, Emerald Director|
At Traveling Vineyard, Wine Guides are part of a large network of welcoming wine entrepreneurs who connect regularly via a private Facebook group. Within the group, Wine Guides from Maine to California can post questions, ask advice, share ideas, or simply celebrate wins in wine together. Beyond the Facebook page, each Wine Guide is part of a team of Wine Guides. Teams meet often for optional social hours, brainstorm sessions, and training. What’s really special about these support opportunities is that they yield lasting friendships.
Chapter 6: Next Steps
Are you a stay at home mom that has an entrepreneurial spirit, a love for great wine, and a desire to make money doing something fun while working from home? Then find out if Traveling Vineyard might be a good fit for you! Click here to learn more about becoming a Wine Guide.