For the Entrepreneur

If you’re a work at home parent, check out this article I wrote for WhatToExpect.com. It’s my quick summary about quitting the supposed “great job” (when I was a single mom with a 2-1/2 year old) to work for myself from home and the things I learned along the way to help give my boys a head start in business.

This post originally appeared on itsaWAHMthing.com, where I regularly contribute articles about affiliate marketing, productivity and technology tips for small businesses and work at home moms.

As a Mompreneur, you need your company to appear professional and well run, but the typical solutions that larger businesses use are too cumbersome or costly for small businesses to support.

eVoice®  can provide you with the same phone system features and abilities that larger companies take for granted. [click to continue…]

Although Statistic Brain reports that 61 percent of working mothers work from home, even the most home-based of us may have to travel on business occasionally — which means that many of us know the anxiety involved in leaving our families behind as we set off on that mission-critical trip.

I travel quite frequently to attend and speak at different industry conferences and to meet with clients.  My family is used to it now, but it wasn’t always easy.  Here are four business travel tips for the work at home mom that can make the situation less stressful for everyone involved:

1. Get your childcare system in place. If your kids attend daycare, make sure your spouse understands the daily drop-off and pickup schedule. If you’re a single mom and you worry about the reliability of Aunt Tilly, a friend or the neighborhood babysitter to handle this task, consider hiring a professional home care provider. BrightStar Care, for example, offers a “KidCare” program that includes transportation to and from activities among its sitter, nanny and pediatric care services.

2. Separate work finances from home finances. I know from first-hand experience that there’s nothing more confusing and frustrating than trying to sift through a shoebox full of receipts at tax time. Allowing your business and home expenses to intermingle will inevitably play havoc with your home and business budgets. Fortunately, your trusty smartphone can help simplify matters tremendously. ExpenseDocs, for instance, enables you to input expenses on the fly into categorized documents. Additionally, if you’ve been putting off setting up a dedicated business checking account or taking out a credit card for your company, this trip might serve as the perfect reason to move forward with it.

3. Create a task schedule. Create a list of daily or weekly tasks, assign them to the appropriate people, and have them check off completed tasks one by one. If your kids are computer savvy, you can even create a Google calendar or other cloud-based schedule that allows you to actually see this process in action. (As convenient as Web-based scheduling might seem, however, don’t fall into the trap of serving as CEO of Mom, Inc. — stay focused on the reason for your trip!) If you have older children, this trip might prove an ideal opportunity to nudge them into the world of domestic responsibilities. Take some time before you leave to show them how to run a load of laundry without accidentally dyeing your white tablecloth pink, how to keep floors and carpets clean and how to give the dog his medicine. Most importantly, show them where the emergency phone numbers are and instruct them on how and when to dial 911.

4. Help your kids cope. Despite your best efforts to explain, your little ones may not understand why Mommy has to go away, and they may even worry about whether you’re coming back. Julie Weed, writing in the New York Times, notes several little touches working moms can employ to relieve these anxieties. Placing a big calendar on the wall or refrigerator door, with the dates of your departure and return clearly marked, lets your kids see exactly when you’ll be back and cross off the days until you return. The ExpenseDocs app mentioned above lets you add photos to a “travel journal” that you can then email to your family. As for communication, a video-ready smartphone or Skype-enabled laptop provides an extra degree of reassurance over an audio-only phone call, but just the sound of your voice will help your child (and you) cope with the separation.

Have a safe journey!

This post originally appeared on itsaWAHMthing.com, where I regularly contribute articles about affiliate marketing, productivity and technology tips for small businesses and work at home moms.  

Bartering makes sense for Mompreneurs. What’s better than exchanging services instead of spending cash to buy necessary goods or services? Especially during seasons when your home business runs short on cash or your favorite customer gets laid off from her job; bartering can help home businesses succeed.

What is Bartering?

Bartering has been around since the beginning of time. Exchanging gold for salt or pottery for rice met a need in the community while providing the backbone of the economy. Today, bartering holds a smaller role but remains important nonetheless.

Bartering allows you to give a product or service in exchange for a product or service of equal value. Instead of paying cash for services received or products purchases, bartering serves as a financial resource. It helps you navigate an unstable economy and receive the goods and services you need. It also enables you to create greater visibility in the community and build your home business’s reputation.

Do you need a new website design or business cards? Perhaps you need monthly administrative services or a one-time plumbing repair. In exchange for these services, you provide a decorated cake, a vehicle tune-up or free babysitting.

How to Barter Successfully

Successful bartering requires practice, practice and more practice. For maximum success, start small by approaching long-time customers first. As you grow confident in your abilities, gradually expand your bartering partnerships to vendors.

Before entering into a bartering relationship, do your homework.

  • What will you trade? It could be your handmade necklaces or an hour of accounting services.
  • How much is it worth? Assign a fair rate to your product or service. Bartering is not charity. Give your product a fair monetary value.
  • What do you want to receive in exchange? Maybe you want a computer upgrade or need a new roof on your home office. Be sure you offer a financially even trade for the services you want.

With answers to these questions, you are ready to approach a customer or company with an invitation to barter.

Most barter agreements occur once, but other partnerships continue indefinitely. Resist verbal agreements. Instead, write down the details of the barter arrangement. Add the services or products that will be exchanged, the barter’s time frame and other applicable information. Both parties sign the agreement and receive a copy of the form. This step keeps both partners honest and prevents you losing time and money on the deal.

Because bartering is easy and increasingly popular, you might overextend yourself. While exchanging goods and services works for some items and for limited time frame, you eventually need cash. Set a limit to your barter partnerships so that you don’t run into cash flow issues.

Finding Companies Who Accept Barter

After you start bartering with customers, branch out to vendors. Prepare your bartering pitch then approach the customer service rep with whom you normally do business. Maybe your gem supplier needs a catered meal or the local printing company needs exterior paint. With a thoughtful proposal and agreeable terms, many companies willingly barter.

For additional outlets, try Craigslist or Trashbank. With these options, you target local residents and receive free advertising for your home business.

Are you ready now to enter the world of bartering? This ancient financial concept can become an essential tool for making money and growing your customer base. Cash is king, but remember the value bartering holds in your successful Mompreneur home business.