Working from home is a dream for many of us.
And it’s a dream come true for some of us. But sometimes the journey from dream to dream come true isn’t always easy. And sometimes it’s unexpected. My work from home journey is full of twists and turns.
I first started looking for a way to work from home when my oldest was just a toddler. I was a single parent, in college, and I had paid for an at-home daycare. And being a student, living on student loans, I had paid for the semester’s daycare.. upfront.
That was a mistake.
My daycare provider handed me a letter about 6 weeks into the semester, telling me she was moving, and no longer able to provide care. And when I asked about her returning the remainder of my payment, she said she would get it to me later that week.
She never returned my phone calls.
So I was stuck.
My daughter was 2, and I had no money left to pay for more babysitting. So I had to drop out of college, which meant that I no longer got student loans. And that meant I needed income — fast!
I went looking, and in the meantime, I got an overnight job at a local coffee shop, while my then-boyfriend slept at my house to watch my girl. So I worked all night, then cared for my baby all day, sleeping during her nap, and a few hours in the afternoon when my boyfriend was done work.
My first experience with work-at-home was with an MLM.
I bought the kit, did their training with my “mentor” and started. The way it was set up was that I would make phone calls from a list of people who filled out the form from the team’s ads. I’d set them up with an online presentation, answer any questions, and then help them do the same thing I was doing. We all bought and used products from the company we were supposed to be representing, but basically the job was to duplicate ourselves.
We got paid commissions based on how many products people we signed up bought. It was a pretty standard MLM system, and honestly, just like selling insurance or products door-to-door. I made a small but steady income from that, long after I quit doing it.
Working from home with the MLM was easy, though it took a lot of time to generate any kind of income.
But I could do it around having a lot of small children, and without access to a computer. In fact, for a solid year, all I had was an old Blackberry smartphone, and I was able to work just fine.
In 2013, my marriage ended, and I found myself on my own with 5 small children.
Suddenly the small monthly income I had from my MLM work was no longer going to be enough. I needed a lot more income, and I needed it fast.
Unfortunately, my relationship with my mentor and my MLM support team had degenerated to where they were no longer available to me. I didn’t have any support so making a push for more income with my MLM didn’t seem possible.
So I started looking at what else I could do.
I had my education in business administration, and I knew my way around online. And I started subscribing to just about any online business blog I could find. So I got all these free ebooks, reports, workbooks and trainings, and I studied like I was back in college.
I also checked in with my local small business centre at city hall. They had a lot of useful checklists, websites and other info on what it took to start a business in my area.
Then I put together a business plan.
I grabbed a template online, and started working through it. It was a really useful exercise, because it made me consider things I hadn’t thought about before — like tax laws, insurance and liability.
But having a plan didn’t exactly translate into having a business automatically. That took finding my first client. And that was by accident.
I was in a mastermind group, and still figuring out what exactly I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to offer business support services — specifically technical services — to starting business owners. But I just wasn’t sure what those would look like.
As a group, we were taught that one of the ways to quickly build an audience was to connect with other business owners with existing audiences. We were working on creating our own virtual summits, and one lady was really struggling with finding speakers for her summit on her topic.
I knew and know how to find anything online, having grown up with internet access. It’s one of the skills I’m most proud of. I offered to help her find her speakers, for a small fee for my time. We came to an agreement and a timeline, and I had my first client.
My first client led to my second client, as she was so happy with my work she shared my name and contact info with others. One thing led to another, and I ended up with my goal client roster of 5, within a few months. I was elated.
Over the years, my business has grown, changed, and developed.
I’ve added my own virtual products to my services, and I’ve been able to specialize what services I do offer. I’ve developed routines for onboarding clients, and found software that helps me manage my business.
Recently, I’ve begun to do a new business plan for my business. As my skills, confidence and business goals have changed, I’ve found that I need to have an idea of the direction I want to go in for the future.
Do I want to stay with my direct service business? Or do I want to grow by offering a more group oriented service and finding more passive income opportunities?
Evaluating your business goals is a part of a healthy business. As I grow, learn and develop, obviously things should and will change.
My work from home journey is well on it’s way, but I feel like I’m still just getting started.
There have been setbacks along the way — life interruptions, unhappy clients, and mistakes that caused me problems to fix. But it’s all part of the journey. And it’s all part of what makes me better, both as a business owner and as a person.
What will your work from home journey look like?
Are you still in the dreaming stage? Maybe you’re ready to start researching or planning? Or maybe you’ve started but you’re not sure of the next step?
When you work from home, you might work for yourself — but don’t work by yourself. Find support that helps.