I was asked to participate in the #MakeMoreHappen campaign, sponsored by Staples. Although I have been compensated, all opinions are my own.
I’m a work at a home mom trying to maintain not one but two small businesses. In addition to this blog which has become my main source of income, I am also a photographer at Ivy Rose Photography. Sometimes it can get tough. When you work from home you have to be jack-of-all-trades. You are your own boss, there is no finance department that tells you how to spend your money, there is no accounting department that handles all the taxes. I manage everything myself from the marketing, business plans – everything down to budget and business expenses.
When I first started working from home I have to admit that things were a bit chaotic. I felt as if I was working all day long, every single day without a break. My breaks were the time that I would work. I would get little sleep and sometimes work until the sun came up. I knew that my schedule was something I couldn’t keep up with and as my kids got older I knew I had to make some changes. Since I started working from home in 2013 I have adjusted my schedule time and time again to figure out what worked best for our family.
Today I’m teaming up with Staples, my go-to spot for my small businesses and I’m giving you my 5 tips for maintaining a successful, small business from home.
1. Make a schedule
Make a schedule and stick to it as closely as you can. Working from home will leave you with a lot of unexpected events that disrupt your schedule. It’s important to be flexible but it helps to have a set time carved out each day for when you will work and when you will tend to other things – like your household duties and your kids, if they are at home. I have a baby at home right now, so it’s not always possible for me to stick to a schedule, but since my kids seem to be on a schedule it helps me determine when they have their down time. Winding down time + nap time usually means work time for me.
2. Personal Time
It’s so easy to get burnt working from home. And that’s because it’s so easy to mix your personal time and work time. Your work can easily consume you 24/7, so in order to prevent the stressed out, burnt out, unmotivated feelings you need to schedule in some personal time each week. Turn off your laptop, set aside your phone and try your hardest not to check emails for at least a few hours each week. Break up your personal time and take some time each day, or even better, schedule a full day where you don’t work at all. My non-work days are usually on Friday’s. Instead of heading to my computer that morning to check emails I won’t even turn on my computer that day. It can be something as small as sitting on your couch with a cup of coffee and a book or watching your favorite Netflix show to heading down the street to grab a cup of coffee or an afternoon taking an afternoon off to go watch a movie or get a pedicure.
3. Network & Get Social
I didn’t realize that being a work at home mom could get lonely. But the fact of the matter is, you don’t get the benefit of making new friends at work anymore, at least in the traditional sense. You don’t get to chat with your coworkers over lunch or in meetings. It’s so easy to forget your social needs these days, because you’re at home with your kids you get so used to chit chatting about your kids favorite cartoons and books. It’s important to continue to get social and network, whether that be with a network of other moms in the neighborhood that you have play-dates with or the other moms from ballet or even other moms you’ve met over social media. I have met so many amazing women doing what I’m doing over social media from all over the world that I talk with so frequently I now call them friends. Being social and having a network outside of your work can help you feel rejuvenated.
4. Prioritize then let go
You can’t do it all. Let’s be honest here. You can’t get everything that you need done now done today. Unless you want to spend the day working like a crazy person and ignoring your kids, don’t even try to do it. Make a list of all your deadlines and due dates and prioritize them each week. Prioritize the most important tasks each week and schedule them out so that you can get one or two accomplished each day. Then….LET IT GO. Don’t stress over the little things that you have on your to-do list. You will see that your business will still go on. By having a priority list and schedule you will get the most important things done and you will feel a little accomplished each day rather than always feeling behind.
5. Budgeting for business and family expenses separately
Don’t mix business with pleasure. Easier said than done when you’re working from home, but it’s a must. Keep your business expenses separate from your family expenses. Try to set a side a portion of your profits to go specifically towards your business. As a small business owner who relies on my business income to support my family, I cannot put everything I make from my businesses back into my business or to put it into refining my craft, but there will be certain things that are a MUST and I NEED for my business and for those things I set money aside in a separate bank account.
Staples Small Business Hub
Since most of what I make goes to support my family and the rest back into the businesses, I always make sure that I am getting the most bang for the buck.
I love having one place that I can go that meets all of my small business needs. Staples has always been a huge supporter of small business owners. They not only have resources in-store like their Copy & Print Center but there are tons of things that you can do online straight from your computer at home. When it comes to business supplies I have a small budget, but when I order from Staples I know that I am getting what I need with my budget + quality products.
You might not know this but they have a Small Business Hub online dedicated to small business owners with tons of things that you can do from your computer at home.
You can design and order business cards, print marketing flyers and posters, get invitations and announcements, calendars and brochures. And the best part of it, you can get most things the SAME DAY that you place an order. Just select in-store pickup at checkout! That is soooo useful when you need something quick before meetings with clients.
I just designed and ordered my new cards with Staples design tool and it was so easy!