By Rhonda Campbell
Operating a successful small business is an undertaking that demands courage, vision and stick-to-it-ness. Truth is — There are few, if any, short cuts to building a profitable business. Add raising one or more school-aged children to the mix, and the job of responding to customer inquiries, responding to media inquiries, balancing budgets, managing business cash flows, meeting with clients and developing new products can become seemingly impossible. Yet, millions of women do it each year, finding ways to thrive as a work from home mom.
Small Businesses Owned by Women Entrepreneurs
In fact, the Small Business Administration (SBA) reports that, 7.8 percent of the small businesses in America were owned by women entrepreneurs, some of who were work at home moms. Average offline and online sales generated by women owned businesses were $130,000 as of 2010; men owned companies averaged sales of $570,000.
Furthermore, 52 percent of small businesses (regardless of the sex of the owner) were home based. In fact, the percentage of home based businesses has remained fairly unchanged from 2002 through 2007. This might be due, in part, because, technological advances aside, over the last three years, generating enough profit to invest in a business, pay vendors and workers has proven to be tough for even the most tested and proven successful business leaders.
Improving Success for Women Owned Work from Home Businesses
Yet, companies, including home based businesses operated by women entrepreneurs, are doing more than merely surviving. Seventy-percent of home businesses exist for three years or longer, while companies operated outside the home exist for approximately 29 percent. To improve their chances of joining the ranks of the 70 percenters, stay at home working moms, women entrepreneurs leading advancing companies, can:
Start their business in an industry or market that’s growing (i.e. mobile apps, social network games, environmentally friendly products/services). Stay at home working moms can use resources like Hoovers, IBIS World and Research Access to research markets and industries. Reference librarians at local libraries can also direct working moms to great market/industry research tools.
Let family members know what their work hours are. For example, stay at home working moms who work Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. should communicate this to their family.
Delegate chores and work assignments to older children. Keep in mind that children who are younger than 21 years old who work for their parents do not have to have Medicare and Social Security deducted from their paychecks (See IRS Pub 926).
Develop internship programs that offer college credits to high school and college students to grow their workforce. Individual colleges and universities and organizations like the National Association of Colleges provide information and guidance on developing and managing internship and co-op programs.
Design interactive websites to help brand their business (discussion forums are effective at pulling in interested visitors; however, to keep comments relevant and on topic, forums might have to be moderated).
Build a blog that complements their business website. WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, Posterous, Live Journal, Blogetery and Weebly are some of the free blog platforms stay at home working moms can use to start their business blog. Some of the platforms also provide web hosting services.
Establish business budgets and stick to them. This might involve creating accounts to deposit quarterly business tax money into and building line item budgets to track sales and vendor payments with.
Track their work time using tools like spreadsheets. With all they do, it may be easy for stay at home working moms to think they’ve spent more time marketing, completing client projects, etc. than they actually have. It’s a reason tracking work time may prove beneficial. By tracking their work time, stay at home working moms, can also see areas where they need to change their focus.
Other steps work at home moms operating their own businesses can take to ensure the success of their companies include writing and distributing business press releases, mailing digital and print postcards to members of their target audience and conducting radio interviews to share their business offerings with consumers. These women entrepreneurs can also join and be active on major social media networks. They can also ask family, friends, neighbors (everyone they know) to tell everyone they know about their business (being certain to share their business website URL with all interested parties)!
http://www.sba.gov/content/women-owned-businesses (Small Business Administration: Women Owned Businesses)
http://www.sba.gov/sites/default/files/FINAL%20FAQ%202012%20Sept%202012%20web.pdf (Small Business Administration: FAQs)