Moms Who Make the Switch to Freelancing
I have a lot of mom friends who have decided to leave the typical workforce after having children.
With daycare being as expensive as it is these days, many of these moms didn’t make enough money in their jobs (a couple of them were teachers) to make daycare worth it. Working just to put your child (or children) in daycare can be frustrating—but many moms don’t want to quit their careers to stay home with their kids. I hear that!
But sometimes the numbers don’t add up, and many 9-5 working mothers are left feeling as if they are spinning their wheels. Starting a freelance career suddenly sounds like the best way to keep a healthy work-life balance. And sometimes having kids is just the thing a mom needs in order to make the leap.
There was a recent blog post on The New York Times that asked “Is There a ‘Right’ Time for a Mom to Start a Business?” The author interviewed a mother, Laura Kelly, in Pennsylvania who had opened a shop that offered sewing and knitting classes for children. Kelly always knew she wanted to run her own business, and wanting to provide crafts for her kids gave her the edge she needed to start her own company.
Here are a couple of questions from the blog that I particularly liked:
Q. Do you think that women business owners face different challenges than men?
A. I think women feel like they need to take care of everything in the family; the kids, husband, groceries, cooking, cleaning, birthday gifts, paying bills, etc. I’m not sure that men with families feel the same way.
Q. Does it bother you that women tend to get asked about work-life balance more than men do?
A. No, it doesn’t bother me, but I have a husband that does laundry and dishes — and so much more — so I have nothing to be bitter about. I just feel fortunate.
When asked if there was a “right” time for a mom to start a business, Kelly replied that what worked for her might not work for other moms. She started slowly, when the kids were small, and her business grew as they did.
This interview got me thinking about what sorts of things moms need to consider before starting their own freelancing business. Here’s what I came up with:
How many hours a week are you going to work from home? You need to be realistic about this, since there are only so many hours in a day.
It would be a good idea to create a schedule for yourself. You may find that finding alternative day care for your child or children is the best way for you to get anything done—especially when they are too young to be in school. Part-time daycare or preschool will give you a chunk of uninterrupted time where you can plan on getting down to business.
Have a talk with your spouse or partner about what it’s going to take you to start your freelance career from home. What will they need to do for the family to support you?
What does starting a freelance career mean for your budget? If you are leaving a full-time job with benefits, how will you compensate? Are there things you can do without to save some money?
It’s easy, when you work from home, to get distracted by those dirty dishes in the sink, the laundry, the cat box, and toys on the floor—how are you going to stay focused? Working from home is easy for some people, for others, it’s harder. You miss the camaraderie of your coworkers and you’re surrounded by your own…stuff.
Finding your own space away from the kids and your partner is key. It would be great if you could have a home office where you could actually shut the door, keeping productivity in and family distractions out.
What you can do when your children are very small is different from what you can do when they are older and more independent. Putting together a 5-year plan for your freelance business is a great idea. Where do you want your business to go? What do you want to do? What is it going to take on your part to get there? Make your goals realistic and attainable, and figure out what success means to you.
Maybe you start your freelance career out very part time while your baby or toddler needs you the most and your business grows with their independence. There’s nothing wrong with starting out slow! Take on a few clients and wow them with your skills, expertise, and customer service. And don’t be afraid to say no. You chose to work from home for a reason, and if your happiness suffers because you took on too much work, you’re going backwards.
Do you have any tips for moms who are thinking about starting a freelance career? We’d love to hear them!