Every January, I write a column for USA TODAY on emerging trends in small business. Whether it is mobile marketing or the proliferation of social media, one thing is certain: small business is always changing, and usually for the better. One of the most significant trends that I have seen over the past decade is the emergence of mompreneurs. (Note: Not all mompreneurs work from home, but generally speaking, the term refers to moms who have created home-based businesses.)
It is great when anyone can launch a business out of a spare bedroom, but it is even better when that person happens to be a mom. It is no secret that women have a particularly tough time achieving that work/life/home balance. One need only look at the brouhaha that erupted when new Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer told employees that they could no longer work from home (especially when she was able to build a nursery right next to her own office at Yahoo) to see the challenges many women face.
So what do you do if you cannot build a nursery next to your office? You build an office next to your nursery. Mompreneurs are doing this successfully for all sorts of reasons, but two are paramount:
- First, we live at a time when a growing number of people are not only becoming increasingly entrepreneurial, but doing so from home. A generation ago, it was news if someone worked from home. That is not the case today.
- Second, the computer/Internet revolution has made it so that anyone can start small, work from home, and look big. That makes being a mompreneur much more doable. Maybe it is not surprising then that more than half of all home-based businesses are owned by mothers.
So yes, while it is more common than ever for women to start home-based business so they can better balance the demand of work and home, the question arises: What do the most successful mompreneurs do right? Here are four things:
1. They set things up to be successful from the start: If you want other people to take your home-based business seriously, you must as well. That means having a dedicated space for the business where you “go to work” everyday, having business phone lines and emails set up – the whole enchilada. You do it right, right from the start.
Take the story of Kimber Christensen of Little Sapling Toys. Kristen started selling her toys on the craft site Etsy and was so successful, according to Investopedia, that she “and husband Nick were able to make and sell the Little Sapling developmental wooden toys full time. By having a home office and workshop onsite, this couple could spend more time with their two children.”
It is very easy when you work at home to run the business casually, maybe too casually. Don’t make that mistake.
2. Set up some ground rules: Having a clear set of rules is key. As someone who used to work from home part time, I always say, “The good news about working at home is that you see your kids a lot. The bad news is that you see your kids a lot.” Of course, that is the idea, but as we all know, too much of a good thing is a bad thing. Ground rules therefore are critical for getting everyone on the same page.
3. Tap into technology: As indicated, technology abounds, and if you want to be a successful mompreneur, you simply must take advantage of the tools that are available to you:
- Social media: Twitter is an amazing tool that allows you not only to establish yourself as an expert, but also meet new people, make contacts and potentially get business. In addition, lots of people hang out on Facebook. If they are there, you should be too. Even better: the social aspect of social media makes working for yourself at home less lonely.
- The Internet: You have to have a great website and social media presence these days if you are going to make your mompreneur gig fly. Not good, great.
- Help: There are plenty of places and people who want to see you succeed. Tap into those resources.
4. Enjoy your time: The whole idea of being a mompreneur is to balance your life better. Be a good boss to yourself. Enjoy your kids . . . and enjoy your work.
So Happy Mother’s Day to all you mompreneurs out there. Times have never been better for you, and those who depend on you!
How do you balance a work-from-home lifestyle? Share your story below.
About Steve Strauss
Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss