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Moms' Rules of Thumb for Starting a WAHM e-Business

Aug 17, 2007
How can Work At Home Moms (WAHM) make an honest living from a small home business on the web?

My spouse and I would both love to stay at home and work, so I decided to set out to find some real answers to that question. While I didn't find any "eureka!" solutions, I was able to lay down 5 basic rules of thumb that beginning entrepreneurs who covet the work at home mom's lifestyle should keep in mind as they plan their online home business.

Work At Home Moms Rule #1: The Tooth Fairy Doesn't Exist in Reality. Neither Does GRQ!

If a webpage, ad, article, email, letter, infomercial or live salesperson says you can get rich quick (GRQ) through a stay-at-home internet business, they're hoping you're a sucker. There's no such thing as GRQ except through the lottery or the occasional inheritance from your wealthy great aunt Edna who lives in Topeka.

Reality Check! You aren't going to win the lottery, and you never visited Great Aunt Edna because she smelled like mothballs and tried to feed you 10-year-old fruit cake. So you can safely rule those two out. Do yourself a mother-in-law-sized favor and rule out GRQ now, too. It's no more likely to happen than the first two, and GRQ schemes can wipe out your startup capital in a hurry.

Some of the most common GRQ scams include, but certainly are not limited to: selling TV access to the internet; selling public internet access; giving seminars on making money on the internet; some multi-level marketing companies (those that focus more on team-building than sales); "no money down" real estate plans; and "guaranteed" returns on the stock market.

Work At Home Moms Rule #2: You've got to Learn to Earn

If you want to succeed in small business on the internet, plan on a big learning curve as you're getting started. The absolute minimum you'll need to get knowledgeable enough to be dangerous includes:

* Know some basic programming - especially html - and learn how to use graphic software.

This is an essential cost-saver even if you're going to pay someone else to start your site; it allows you to use beginning pages as a template for the rest of your pages rather than paying someone to build every last page.

* Learn how to write for the web. "Content is King," or in this case, "Queen!" If your writing reminds people more of the pauper than the prince, they won't stick around for the royal punchline.

* Learn e-commerce from the experts. The least expensive way to do this is by regularly reading a good e-commerce magazine.

I don't recommend subscribing to multiple mags; they all cover the same things. But the things they do cover are important to know and keep up with. You'll get ideas, learn new ways to save money, and hear about cutting edge internet products and services before the vast majority of other folks do.

If you can't afford a subscription right now, go to your local library to read it.

Work At Home Moms Rule #3: Know Thyself

I know: you've heard that before. It's so true, though! I'll use a 'mom' analogy to explain.

Your new business comes into the world totally dependent on you. It's like you have a new baby! If you can know yourself well enough to determine what the one hobby, talent or passion is that you genuinely enjoy and know more about than most other people; and if you can have the discipline to focus your new business on that one thing, you might just succeed.

If you can't love and nurture your new e-business into an 'adolescent with an attitude' without growing tired of it, your e-business baby will almost surely fail.

While we're on the topic of failure, face this fact: the odds are great you'll fail the first time you start a business. Be prepared to learn from your mistakes if you do, and "try, try again."

Work At Home Moms Rule #4: Be a Persistent Professional

* Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, for ever and ever Amen?

You better, if you want to succeed. People can smell a phony from a mile away, and it only takes one lapse into dishonesty or one too-obvious case of cutting corners to lose a potential customer forever.

* Have a solid graphic identity for your website, letterhead, envelopes and business cards. You don't have to spend a ton of money to achieve this: you can use your own graphics program and printer, or pay a starving digital artist to produce something that looks professional for an affordable flat fee.

* Successful professionals are experts in their field. If you've followed rule #3, you can achieve this through offering to speak about your favorite subject to churches, schools and civic groups. You can also sell yourself as a consultant and President of your own company, which of course, is focused on this wondrous thing for which you have strong knowledge and passion.

* Join a good professional organization to help you network. Be sure to get to know the groups before you choose one; if there's not strong leadership and vitality when you visit, keep on looking until you find an organization filled with people who inspire you.

Establishing your credentials and credibility through these four bullet points will help you to secure a business loan, will raise you in the esteem of other professionals with whom you might want to partner, and will make you as attractive to your target customers as honey is to the bees.

Work At Home Moms Rule #5: Know Your Limitations

There's a whole lot of legal and financial paperwork, rules, laws and regulations that you have to be on top of when you start a business. If you aren't a lawyer and an accountant, you need to have both working for you. Yes, this is an expense. But the money and mind-warping time it will save you will be more than worth the price.

While some pundits say you don't have to employ services from these professionals until your business is well under way, you should at the very least have one of each picked out in case you do need them. Make sure they know who you are and what you're doing, and keep their card on hand for when you do need them.
About the Author
Mac Bartine is the owner and principle writer for KnoxvilleBusiness.com, where you'll find more resources related to this article, plus stories about Mom & Pop and Appalachian culture in the Knoxville, TN and Great Smoky Mountains area.
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