Working for yourself from home

Every mum and dad struggles to balance work and family. If you work full time, you may not see enough of the kids, and if you are at home all the time it can be hard to feel you are doing anything for yourself. There are lots of different ways to earn around the family, including starting your own business. This may sound daunting, but read on to see how you could get your own enterprise going.

Think about what motivates you, before making any plans. List your priorities. Do you mainly just need to earn money, or do you miss using your brain. Do you have skills you feel are being wasted, or is there a skill you would love to learn and use. Or, is your main motivation to have some way of earning while staying with your children?

Then, take a look at your skills. Turn off the little voice in your head that says you’re not good at anything. Write down simple things you do every day, like ironing or cooking. Note down courses you have been on, and ask others what they think you’re good at. If there is a skill you’d love to have, call your local college to see if they offer a relevant course. Ask about help with funding and whether they offer a crèche place. Learn Direct Advice can help answer all your questions about getting back into learning.

How much time, money and effort would you be prepared to invest in starting up a business? Think realistically about the hours you can work. What free time do you have? Many work at home mums find all their time becomes consumed by the business. Some mums manage to work without childcare, but most find it easier if they have some time to work without the children. Will your partner or a relative care for the children for a few hours? If not, you may want to call your local authority’s Early Years department for help with finding some childcare.

Once you have a business idea, do a little research. Look at competitors, gather brochures, check out websites and find out how much others are charging for similar products or services. Ask people if they would buy your product or service too. This will all help when you go on to prepare a business plan.

Planning how you will promote your business is an essential part of your business plan. PRBasics has lots of free resources and essential links. Visit the site to download a template to help you plan your business promotion, a template for writing your own press releases, and more.

Pop into your local Enterprise Agency for free and low cost advice on starting up and business planning. They also offer help in getting grants or funding. The Inland Revenue can also send an advisor to your house to advise you.

This article is by Antonia Chitty, who runs, helping business owners with promotion. Her latest publication, A guide to Promoting Your Business (£15), is packed with affordable techniques for getting your business noticed. The book is written with busy working parents in mind, and can be worked through in short sections when you have a few minutes. Clear explanations, examples and exercises make it easy to pick up the essentials skills to boost your business. A guide to Promoting Your Business is available from and other bookshops if you quote ISBN 978-0955534508.

Antonia’s next book is a guide to family friendly ways to work. She is still looking to hear from more dads who have found a great way to achieve a better work life balance. You may have set up a business, taken on a franchise, or gone freelance. Email if you have a story.

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