Archive for small business

Building Your Independence One Brick at a Time

It was October of 2006 when I decided to get SERIOUS about developing a business that would be sustainable and profitable. It took me years to learn the ropes and many mistakes later before I could safely say that I was supporting my family without dipping into savings, retirement, life insurance or credit cards.

Yes! I used all four to keep body and soul together while struggling to build something I could be proud of. The divorce came at a very inopportune time.

Business was rolling along and I was making ends meet. Barely making those ends meet – but they were meeting!

And then the economy crashed and what I provided to my customers became expendable.

I was no longer needed. I was wanted. But in those days you purchased what was needed and not wanted.

So my income plummeted and it was a couple of years before I recovered. I blame the slow recovery on my inability to learn what had to be done in enough time.

The same things happen to small businesses around the country every year. Whether they are small home based businesses or brick and mortar businesses, the owners must pay attention to the changes in the economic landscape and determine if their product will make the grade.

Originally my small business was a way to express myself creatively and enjoy a bit of income. But after the divorce it was how I put bread and butter on the table.

Having a business has provided me with more than income. I’ve learned skills I’m using with other companies to help their business grow. I’ve gained strength I never thought possible. I’m learning the fine art of networking – when I’m really just a homebody and prefer to stay behind the scenes.

And, I’m putting food on the table without worrying about paying the rent every month.

Have you considered the benefits you’d reap if you spent an hour or two a day building something you could call your own?

Most people start their own business while working for someone else. And, that’s the best way to do it.

You have the safety net of a consistent salary, while building an additional income. Eventually you might make enough to quit your day job and stay home with your children.

What would that mean to you and to them?

Independence is a hard won process, especially as a single mom. You may not want your independence. Down deep inside you might want a partner by your side who can share the burdens of everyday living. But the reality is that right now, it’s not happening.

So how can you assert your own independence, teach your children the value of hard work and ingenuity, and be satisfied each night when you lay your head on your pillow?

The additional income is a great resource. You’ll be able to go out to dinner a little more, have drinks with your friends, go to the movies or buy those special pair of boots your teenage daughter has been drooling over.

But it’s more than income.

It’s independence. And with independence is the ability to CHOOSE dependence. You have the option to choose a partner and not to feel as if you need one to fill the gaps in your life – both relational and financial.

Because with a business that you own, marketing will force you to develop relationships with other people, create a circle of friends if you don’t have and will put you outside your comfort zone.

Truth be told, the growth that yields the most is that done outside of your comfort zone, and often during a time you feel you’ve failed.

Failure isn’t failure until you refuse to get up and try something new. When you get up and keep learning you’ve started growing.

Looking back these last seven years I am blessed by the growth I’ve undergone. Whether it’s personal pain or financial instability – I’ve been growing by leaps and bounds.

It’s time to identify the areas in your life that need some tweaking and developing.

Your children are watching you. Whether you know it or not – whether they say it or not, they are watching.

You are their compass. It’s a great responsibility and an awesome future that lies before you. Your actions will affect your children and your children’s children. When you can fully grasp that concept you may be completely overwhelmed.

That’s good – it’s the start of a whole new beginning and a whole new you!

I started this article with the intention of talking about why it’s important to have your own business and how you can get it done. But I realize that there are multiple opportunities for you start something at home, and multiple people who are willing to show you how to get that done.

What I needed eight years ago was a kick in the pants to get the thing started SERIOUSLY. I don’t mean dabbling daily in checking email, reading sales copy or checking out the newest and greatest way to drive traffic to a website.

I mean getting serious about choosing a business – not a website, not a scheme, not a process – but a business.

If you want to see yourself bringing home a little extra cash every month and growing that into a thriving business, then it’s time to get serious about doing things with intention and not getting up each day, putting your head down and getting the work done.

Now is the time to look up, take stock of where you are and determine where you want to be.



Why Building a Bigger Bottom Line is Not Just About Income

Balancing finances is only one of the challenges that single moms face during separation and divorce. It can be scary, overwhelming and keep you up nights wondering how in the world you can pay your credit card bills and if you can make the rent next month. What if the car breaks down? Will the kids get presents at Christmas this year?

It’s a balancing act that’s easier when you’re married and so much more challenging when you’re alone. It’s possible that after just a couple months your ex may begin to resent the money he’s sending for child support. Of course this isn’t true of all ex-husbands.

In most states your ex will be making child support and spousal support payments through a state agency. However, there are extra expenses that may have been covered in the divorce agreement, but which require he make the payments to you personally. Some dads are better at this than others.


But, here’s the hard truth about financial difficulties and being a single mother. The reality is that we can have a reasonable expectation that the support check will be in our account each month when the state agency removes it from our ex-spouses’ work check, when he’s working. That’s it. That’s what we can rely on.

The great thing is that today you can have a future that YOU define and that isn’t defined for you. Is that future nerve wracking? HECK YES! But, it is also full of more potential and greater success than you could have otherwise imagined.

Why is that?

Because pressure changes everything. Pressure in our lives changes the way we do things. Without being pressured to get out of our comfort zone, we might never change. We might never consider the opportunities that lie before us. But, with pressure to move beyond what we find comfortable, we’re more likely to make choices and decisions that result in greater success.

Of course adding to your bottom line and improving the overall outlook of your budget has benefits that don’t need explanation. You can pay the bills on time, not stress at the grocery store and stop worrying about how close to the limit you are on the credit cards.

But there are even more important benefits to your home and your children, because these benefits demonstrate your ability to face challenges in life and find creative solutions. This benefit alone is a gift of a future.

At a time in the growth of my own business, when I wasn’t sure how things would come together each month, I published my first book on Amazon. I used Create Space to produce the hard copy of the book and ordered a proof to be sure that it was formatted correctly.

When that book came in the mail I could not have been more excited to hold it in my hands. I was literally vibrating with excitement and joy. This had been a dream of mine since I was 14 – to write and publish. And suddenly, I knew that if I gave myself the grace and patience needed to grow, I could accomplish what I wanted.

That book in my hands showed me that dreams do come true when you work at what you want, practice consistency and persistence and, as Winston Churchill once elaborated to a group of graduating college students,

“Never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”

Too often we fall short of the goal because we stop trying before arriving.

It is NOT smart to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results. But, it is smart to try, fail, get up and try again – learning from the mistakes that were made. Only this way will you be able to hold that dream in your hands and fairly tremble with unabashed joy.

For these reasons, and so many more, it’s your turn to make the choice to expand your freedom. There are so many reasons to consider starting a small business at home. It can be in your spare time, after work, in the evening or on the weekends. You can start something yourself or work with another person or company who is already established. The true goal is growth – personal, financial, relational and parental.

  1. Tax write offs are the primary reason that people list for starting a home based business. This is a benefit that helps at tax time. But, before writing off your entire apartment, the electric bill and the Internet bill, you must talk with your tax preparer. There are specific rules to the amount of space you can deduct, gas, clothing, utilities, insurance, Internet access and other expenses. If you go outside the parameters and deduct something you shouldn’t, you will experience more pain than gain. Uncle Sam doesn’t give gifts. Live within the rules and established boundaries and you will reap certain reward.
  1. Demonstrates to the children that anything is possible when you put your mind to it. This is priceless. You show your children your strength, courage and creativity in a way that they couldn’t experience any other way. Do not leave it to their imagination to figure it out. Sit down and talk with them about the business, what you’re doing, how you’re doing it, the challenges and how you’re meeting them. You can explain all this to children from five to twenty-five at their own developmental level. You might be surprised by the ideas you get from small children who think well outside the box that we’ve put ourselves in as adults.
  1. Adds more income to your household budget. Yay! Even a little more each month can help pay the utility bill, or make paying the grocery bill less painful. Engage your children as much as possible in what you’re doing so you aren’t taking time away from them to meet your budget, but instead are involving them in something you can all grow together.
  1. Increases your own self esteem. Your first check or Paypal payment will be amazing. It’s an incredible feeling to open your Paypal account and see there’s money you earned from selling crafts, writing, information or other people’s products. Suddenly you’ll feel great and more in control of your future. Remember that succeeding checks don’t come without the effort, work, marketing and work. Yes, work was mentioned twice for a good reason.
  1. Creates an outlet for a side of yourself you are probably ignoring right now. Let’s face it, most of your time is taken up with work, keeping your home together, parenting and being the chief-cook-and-bottle-washer. In other words, you’re doing everything for everyone except yourself. Your small business is a great way to express your creative side and do it in a way that you feel is productive and brings something of value to your family. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t also find balance in your life by taking breaks, having some fun and enjoying the life you’ve been given. But, using creative juices to increase your bottom line and motivate your children feeds your own self-esteem in way that can’t be fed any other way.