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 WAHM > Choosing an Online Business > Choosing a Child Friendly Business

Choosing a Child Friendly Business

If you’ve had any apprehension about starting a business from home, you may have wondered just how your business will fit into your family. I know I’ve heard that telltale whirring and clunking noise when a paperclip goes into the vacuum more times than I can count, and I've hurt myself trying to snap my fingers fiercely at my noisy children while I’m scrambling to get a business call behind closed doors.

 I’ve reinvented an old term and started marketing t-shirts that say, “Runs with telephone.” Now imagine your proposals with juice splatters, and your merchandise with cat hair (guilty!) and you’ve got the proverbial home business.

While it’s important to find something you just love to do, you’ll also need to make serious considerations for your family. Some women have been lucky enough to leave work and take their job home; such as a mom I know who works for an insurance company. But if you’re unable to do this, Internet Based Moms™ will help you find the perfect kid friendly home based business. While there are infinite things to consider, two of the most important follow.
 

Do you have the space for your business?

Most businesses, even those conducted by and large inside the computer and online, will still require the use of space to accommodate merchandise, mail, files, books and equipment. Speak with others who are doing what you would like to do to get an idea of their space requirements before you get started. A gift basket business may be a space nightmare, but building websites using your computer could be a dream in comparison. Don’t be lulled into thinking you can skimp on the room to grow though.

While you can get by with one computer, a bookshelf and a desk, the home based owner of Sprezzatura Systems, Inc. urges us to have a little more space when designing websites. She tells us, "Two computers, lots of flat work surface, and a nearby bookshelf filled with technical books are key, so I can spread out papers from the client and easily grab a book when needed. An inexpensive flat screen for one computer improved the situation tremendously: the increased work area was well worth the trade-off in resolution. A stacking horizontal letter tray lets me keep multiple projects' papers within reach as well."

If your home business dreams revolve around retail and selling products or merchandise, take a look at Kay Green from My Precious Kids. She’s been featured in Women’s Day magazine and is rapidly growing her direct sales company with the help of other parents. Originally beginning the company to protect her own children with one product, she’s expanded her business with the help of several parents who sell Kay’s products and keep a percentage of the purchase price. Kay says, “With 28 products in my line, storage space has become a real issue.” Kay has been able to use a room in her home entirely for her product line.

No storage space?

If the storage of merchandise is not an option in your home, you could still very easily run that online retail shop you’ve dreamt of, affordably! There are hundreds to thousands of successful companies willing to drop ship items purchased from your web store. You set up your own website using product photos, information, a shopping cart and a merchant account so that each purchase goes through you. You’ll retain your percentage of the profits, then rollover the order to the company to fill for the customer, at which time you’ll send the company their percentage of the purchase price.


Direct Sales

There are other companies who drop ship that work under the ‘direct sales’ tag. Remember Kay Green at My Precious Kids? She may have all the stock in her home, but you could easily work as an MPK rep and carry much less stock on hand. MPK requires you to build your own website if you choose to use one, but there are other companies that will charge you a small monthly or yearly fee for a content managed store so you’ll be free from designing your own website. You won’t be able to add multiple companies to one website, but everything is well managed for you.


Yet one more option is signing up with the company Gabby Goodies, that allows you to choose your path by paying for a website with options, using a bare bones free site, or building your own. There are several hundred other direct sales companies out there to try. Check out the Direct Sales Company Discussion Groups on the IBMoms boards and the Direct Sales Company Directory.

If you’re not interested in direct sales, there are so many companies available to drop ship, you just need to research and ask. Many other home-based businesses offer drop shipping, and some hadn’t even thought of it before.

Be aware that you will not see the same amount of profit per item. For example, you’ll keep an average of 5% - 30% vs. 40% -50% of the purchase price by drop shipping instead of buying and re-selling wholesale items. You’ll also need to research the company to be sure they’re quick and reliable. You don’t want to take a customer’s money only to have the company not fill the order in a timely manner.

Affiliate Programs

Another option to drop shipping is an affiliate agreement. These are a little more difficult to manage, but can be very successful if your website receives enough business. Usually used to supplement income, there are thousands of affiliate agreements on the Internet. You’ll also make less than wholesaling, but will not need to process orders, carry a shopping cart or merchant account, and the customer visits a banner on your website that takes them straight to the company.

The customer will order there and you won’t have to juggle orders on your end. I suggest you do not waste time and space on any company not offering at least 12% - 25% of the sales made through your site, unless it’s an incredibly good seller. Read their affiliate guidelines before signing up.
With luck and creativity, space may not be an issue and you’ll be open to literally thousands of business ideas. You could erect shelves that stock everything from t-shirts to jewelry, and lay out all the equipment you could ever use.

How old are the children?

Several considerations for age will be made when finding your dream business at home. If you have teens, they’ll most likely be easier to work around, but you’ll still need to weigh your options. Teenagers better respond to requests to be quiet (we hope!) while your client is in-home, and they usually can be left alone. However, you’ll have to take a look at when your business will be interrupting your family and vice versa.


Brenda Potter Reynolds, homeschools her 13-year-old and runs her home-based travel writing and photography business. When her son was small and she owned a home-based studio, her son had an in-house babysitter. Now that he’s older she can enjoy her time with him “in the field”.

Photographer and writer Linda Dupie feels that there are different circumstances in which you can take your children with you. “Right now I am focusing on artistic and stock photographs so this fits well with my family life. However when I am doing a pet portrait I would never dream of taking my family along, it just isn't professional.”

While many clients on the phone or in person do understand your having a family, it is still important to the lifeblood of your business to be able to separate the two. Being highly professional in the long run snowballs into more clients and a more successful business, no matter what your business is. Linda notes, “The family or individual is paying for your undivided attention and if your family interrupts, you are taking time away from your client and in my opinion that's an unprofessional way to run your business.”


Think about your own needs when deciding on the customer service needs of others. You may find you want to be respected and listened to, and when you are, and the work is quality, you tell your friends and go back for more.

No matter what their age, you’ll want to be sure you can trust your children to keep out of your merchandise so you don’t lose money on items you’re selling. Kimberly Vetrano of FUNtastic Letters & Wraps finds that, “having the candy around really doesn't phase my kids. Even though they are now soon to be 7 and 4 1/2, they know and understand that mommy makes wrappers for her business, so they see it as ‘mommy's work candy’. My hubby on the other hand…”

Younger children seem to have business call radar. They’ll suddenly need everything under the sun, and amp up their voices and arguments the second you pick up the phone. Customer service and business deals may be strained if your toddler is screaming at your feet. Author and mom coach, Tracy Lyn Moland may not be able to schedule phone interviews or make business calls with the kids around, but a personal coach may be able to conduct business over e-mail and Internet chat or instant messenger. Though limiting, it does offer an option to traditional phone calls.

Writers and editors also find the age of the child can really make the difference. There are so many successful editors, freelance writers, copywriters, novelists, technical and resume writers to motivate you if you’ve ever considered the business. The age of your children could throw a wrench into the works though, if you intend to write full time. School, activities and toddlerhood can determine the growth of your writing business in the early years.

Ok, what now?

To find your dream business, begin by writing down what you love to do, speak with others that can help you expand your idea into an actual business, and keep your family in mind. Check out the free information on starting an Internet business provided by Internet Based Moms™. If you’re still wondering what to do, plug your favorite things into a search engine like Google and surf the web. Check out message boards on parenting and home-based business websites and take a look at what’s around you. Think like an entrepreneur! You can virtually make a business out of anything.
_______________
Gina Ritter is a freelance writer, family coach and work at home mom of three young boys. She lives in New York with her husband and family and owns the Busy Family Network of sites at http://www.busyfamilynetwork.com
 

This article was written exclusively for Internet Based Moms™ and may not be
re-published or copied without permission from Internet Based Moms™, except to print one copy for personal use.  Comments and general questions about the article's content can be directed to the author.

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