From Stay-at-Home Mom to Business Owner
Hi hi! Today I am so excited to present The Healthy Work at Home Mom's guest blogger, Sara Meadows! Sara and I connected in The Sisterhood of the Hustlin' Mamas, and I know her story will inspire you. When Sara's kids went back to school, she was faced with a tough decision. Throw herself back into working fulltime or take a leap of faith and start her own content company....
When my daughter was born, I felt the pull to leave my corporate communications job to stay home with her full time. It wasn’t an easy decision. Staying home would be a sacrifice financially. But in my eyes it was well worth it, so I left my job with the intention of going back once they were in school. A ‘win, win,’ right?
As they say, those days were long, but the years were short and I treasure every moment. All too soon, with my youngest almost in kindergarten, the clock was ticking. So while I watched many of my friends deservedly enjoy their first hours to themselves in years, meeting friends for coffee and going to Barre class, I started to look at opportunities to go back to work.
Knowing I would likely go back one day, I had stayed connected to my employer throughout my stay-at-home years, doing minimal freelance writing. I applied for full-time work with them and other large Milwaukee companies. But the thought of a 9-to-5 gave me an enormous pit in my stomach.
Was I going back too soon? Who would watch the kids after school and during the summers? Who would greet my kids when they ran out of school or help them with their homework? I wanted it to be me, yet I knew I needed to start making some real money after years of not earning. Suddenly, my ‘win, win’ felt a lot more like a ‘lose, lose.’
I realized I couldn’t be the only one going through this, so I started to look around, and saw something really inspiring. A lot of women were starting businesses. At first I thought they probably just wanted a little extra spending money or a way to keep busy. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized these businesses could be anything they wanted them to be. They could be really big.
That’s when I decided to take my freelance writing work and turn it up. Way up. I knew that if I worked enough hours, I could make more money than I could going back to work, and have the flexibility I was looking for.
While it hasn’t always been easy, I’ve now built something that’s allowed me to still do school pick up and carpools, while earning the money I need. Here’s what I’ve learned from starting my own business from home after years of being a stay-at-home mom:
Take Yourself Seriously and Formalize Your Business – I’ve been doing a little freelance writing for seven years, but never thought of it as a business. Once I got an LLC, created a logo and built a website, not only did other people start taking me seriously, I felt so much more legit. This made me way more confident to go out and ask new clients for work. I’m absolutely done calling this a ‘side gig’ – if we work hard enough, the work we do from home can earn real money, often even more than a 9-to-5.
Set and Track Really High Goals – I wouldn’t have had nearly as much success if I didn’t create really ambitious goals for myself. I had a lot of self-doubt starting off (and still do sometimes), not thinking I could actually make a significant amount of money from home. Once I put my goals on paper, I knew I had to work a certain amount of hours to reach them. Literally crossing off these numbers as I achieve them pushes me not just to hit my goals, but to aim even higher. There is literally no ceiling when you start your own business. That endless opportunity is so motivating.
Structure Your Days – Once the kids get home from school, there are so many distractions, requests and carpools, so I treat the school hours as my true workday, getting my most important tasks done while the kids are out of the house. While I love having flexibility in my day, I like my nights and weekends more, so I push myself to get my hours in while they’re at school so I can enjoy more time with my family when everyone is home together.
Work Hard and Put in the Time – This sounds obvious, but after years of being a stay-at-home mom, working even just four hours a day felt like a lot. It was a whole new muscle to flex. After a few hours, I’d be exhausted and allow myself to stop. Once I realized I needed to put in more time, I saw quickly how more hours directly led to greater results. There’s just no way around the hard work when you’re starting a new business.
After staying at home, I had put any professional dreams aside. Now that I’ve changed my frame of mind, I realize not only can my career be something really big, I can do it on my terms from home if I push myself hard enough. To my surprise, the real reward has not been the money, but the looks on my daughters’ faces when I tell them about my business.
Sara Meadows is Founder of Match Point Consultants, a Milwaukee-based communications consulting firm.
And now Sara and I would love to hear from you!
Are you a mom who stayed home and now your kids are in school? What could you do to make more money while working from home?
Let us know in the comments below!