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Work-at-home mom: take a deep breath and Do Life Different as you allow these devotions for work-at-home moms to fill the vacuum of your needy heart in the chaos of your busy world.
 
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Archive for Home Business Articles

May
23

How to Minister to Others with Your Blog

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Blogging is so popular nowadays that you may already be contemplating using this platform to spread the gospel or simply help other people. Can you use the tool for outreach? Perhaps we need to review the reasons people blog.  For some people, blogging is a full time job, while others do it for fun.  For Christian, the motivation should be the urge to say something.

There is a lot to say on the blogosphere. Many ills are happening in the world and taking the fight online is the best strategy. Assuming you have a blog ready, we have some ideas on how to use it for ministry.  If you do not have an idea what a Christian blog is, here is an example of one. Now let us look at the ideas.

Build a Niche

There are millions of blogs already, so you must occupy a distinctive niche to garner significant readership. Unless your skills match those of Garrison Keillor or Peter Ustinov, you must avoid a broad view of issues. Have you determined who your target readers are?  You could be targeting the youth, unbelievers, or young believers and so on. Have their mental picture and probably do an assessment before doing your first post.

Be Transparent

It is very difficult to minister to others when you are not transparent. When it comes to blogging, it should not be lost to you that humans thrive on connection with others. Write posts that demonstrate how one can overcome tests, adversity and so on. Share your struggles, outlining how you won the battles. I once shared to readers how I used to focus entirely on how to amass wealth and overlooked God. I explained how God did not place too much value on my worldly successes. He valued me with or without money, cars and apartments. From the feedback I got, it is apparent this is something many people encounter. Share your testimony on your blog; you never know how many people you will touch.

Be Diverse In Your Posts

It is very surprising that some people think Christians live abnormal lives. In your blog posts, do not strive to promote this misconception by writing about bible verses 24/7. Let people see you are also a human being so that they can be ready to connect. When people visit your blog, they should see that you love football, pets, road trips, and you are a firm believer of the Word. Let your topics elicit a sense of reality even as you give your audience a regular dose of the Gospel.

Use Blogging Tools Maximally

As enthusiastic as you are about blogging, you will agree or eventually find out that updating your blog regularly is a tough call. Your ministry can suffer if bad habits set in, but we do not want to go into that topic for now. It does not have to get to that point where blogging for ministry is no longer fun. You need tools to make blogging easier and more fun. An added advantage is that you are guaranteed of good results. Read More→

As we’re moving from spring into summer, we all have a moment or two where we look forward to summer because of its slower pace.  When summer arrives, in all its glory, we then recognize the lie that we had been telling ourselves. Summer is crazy busy.

Between pool parties, summer sports and sleepovers, how will we ever fit working in to our schedule? Here are a few tips on how to make it work.

Plan Your Work Times

I know it seems impossible, but planning work times into your schedule is something we must learn to do. Each day holds something different during the summer it seems, so we may have to do things like get up early and work, plan out work during naptimes or stay up late and burn the midnight oil.

Know Your Priorities

Knowing when you’re going to work is only half the battle. It can be easy to say to ourselves that we’ll work during naptime, but then we sit down to get to work and don’t know where to start. So, one simple technique is to keep a running list of projects and tasks, ordered by priority. If I know exactly what I need to work on when I sit down, I’m much more likely to get it accomplished.

Be Flexible

It’s easy to say we’ll follow a schedule in the summer, but it’s a much harder task to actually stick to it. Kids throw a lot of variables into the mix, so we must keep ourselves in the attitude of adjusting as necessary. We’ll also have those days when we sense God calling us to rest or to visit someone specific or whatever it might be. We need to be sensitive to His leading and flexible with our schedules. Read More→

May
15

Avoiding Distractions

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emailDo you find yourself checking your email every five minutes? Or chatting on the phone when you are supposed to be working? Distractions are a part of life, but that doesn’t mean they have to control your days. Here are a few ideas to help you keep on task.

Close your email and get off social media

This may seem simple, but, at least for me, it can be hard not only to close my email, but also to STAY out of my email program. When a task needs to be done, the best way to focus is to shut your email program, turn your phone off (or mute it) and distance yourself from any other distracting technology items. You’ll be amazed at how much more you will accomplish – and how much more efficiently you work.

Find Time Alone

As a work-at-home mom, this is by far the hardest distraction-buster to accomplish. As my kids have gotten older, I’ve found that I can get most of my work done while my kids are at school. However, when they were still small and home with me all day, I tended to work in small chunks. Twenty minutes here while they watched a little T.V. or half and hour here while they played outside (and many times I sat outside with my laptop so I could keep an eye on them.

Another tactic I used was to trade babysitting time with a friend who also needed some “alone time” or to ask family members for help. Be creative!

Make a List

This is my go-to tip when people ask me how to become more productive. I couldn’t get nearly as much done without my lists. If plan out tasks with lists of steps that need to be accomplished. I make an outline out of an idea to see if it is feasible. And when I’m writing I outline what I want to say. I find that if I have an outline, I’m much more likely to take on the task and actually complete it. Read More→

May
08

Prepping Your Business For Summer

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beach playI can hardly believe it, but another school year is coming to a close. As I stumble through this month of end-of-school parties (not to mention my own graduation from Grad School-yay!), I find myself left with very little time in which I can actually get “work” done. Which leads me to wonder – what will the summer look like if I’m already in such a jumble?

So, I’ve decided that in order to start the summer off right, I need to take some time NOW to get my mind and heart ready.  Here are some things I’ve decided to do to get ready for the new season God has for my business – maybe they’ll help you, too.

Set Aside Time

It’s easy to forget the importance of setting aside time to work on our business in and of itself. We are commonly focused on our customers, daily tasks and the like that we don’t take time to think solely about what the future holds for our business.

As we near the end of this school year, let’s dedicate a couple of solid hours to sit down and dream a little, plan a little. If you have a team of people that you work with, consider pulling them all together (provide some Starbucks, of course) and have a brainstorming session.

Set Goals

During the time that you set aside to “think business,” make it a point to set goals for the summer and fall. I generally make a list – 3 months goals, 6 month goals, etc – to help aid me as I plan out where I see my business heading for the upcoming months.

Try to stretch yourself in your goal-setting. Be specific and make some of your goals measurable so that when you look back next year, you can truly see the growth your business has experienced. And then cover each goal in prayer throughout the year. Read More→

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May
01

Spring Cleaning: Getting Your Business In Order

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IPurple crocus at a park, opening to the sun and heralding Springt’s spring! That means sunshine, rainbows and daisies, right? It also means that it’s time to spring clean – and not just your house, but your business as well. Each spring I set some time aside to clear the cobwebs off projects that I’ve set aside and take stock of what needs to be put in order now that spring is dawning.

Evaluate

I start off by taking a look and what IS working as well as what ISN’T working in my business. I hate to admit it, but not every grand idea that I come up with works in reality. I’ve had to learn that it’s okay to try new things; and it’s ok for some of those things to fail. The trial-and-error process is one way that we can determine what our customers are looking for. Don’t be afraid to make changes to existing products or programs if you see they aren’t bringing in the results that you had hoped for.

Emphasize

Do you customers know all that you have to offer? Often when I’m re-organizing I realize that I haven’t given the proper amount of promotion or attention to programs that I already have in place. This is a great time to re-launch a product or program that has not been made widely accessible to your audience. Consider how you can best highlight this under-promoted item – you may not even need to make changes at this time, just make people aware.

Excite

In order to make sales, we need to get our customers excited about our business and our products. This may be the perfect time to offer new special promotions or run a sale. Or, maybe it’s time to develop a new product or service to reach a new section of your ever-growing business market. Read More→

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Apr
28

Your Path to Working From Home

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Working from home is a goal that many people want to achieve, but fail to reach because they aren’t sure how to approach it. The first hurdle is money; how can you sustain your living if you don’t have a large amount of savings to your name? The second hurdle is knowledge; what can you do with your knowledge, do you need to learn new skills, and what career choices are there for you to work from home? Lastly, we think about job security; why risk your comfortable 9 to 5 job for a chance at working from home on your own terms?

Hurdle 1: Finance

If you want to save money to stay home, then you need to learn how to budget. Write down a list of your expenses, try to cut down on luxuries, and start saving money while you still have a job. Try to reduce as much as possible and start utilizing some frugal measures in order to save more cash. You’re going to need quite a lot of money to sustain yourself while you’re making the transition from regular day job to working from home, and you’ll need even more money if you want to invest in starting a business or hardware and equipment to make your at-home job possible. Don’t skimp on essentials, but practice living a frugal life so that you can prepare yourself when you leave your work.

 

Hurdle 2: Knowledge

Thankfully, it doesn’t take much money nowadays to study online and there are thousands of courses to pick from. For example, Find Your Context is a fantastic website for people who want to study online but aren’t sure about their choices or what they should pick. With so many choices available, it can be hard trying to discern what’s the best option for your at-home career choice. In most cases, a creative course such as writing or design will make a great freelancing career. However, if you want to start a business, then having a good foundation with business studies will be essential to starting up your own company. If you already have knowledge of a creative skill, then t might be worth spending your free evenings researching how to become a freelancer. With some hard work and a bit of luck, you might even be able to moonlight as a freelancer while still working your day job. It will give you some experience and a taster of what it’s like to work from home.

 

Hurdle 3: Job Security

Let’s face it, working from home means that you’re going to be reliant on clients. If you start a business, it also means that you could fail at any moment, and it’s never a fun feeling to realize that your company is going to collapse and you have no backup plan. If possible, stick with your job for as long as possible. Reduce your hours if you have to, but try to secure as many streams of income as possible, or save up a lot of money to use while you’re out of work.

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Apr
26

Are You Really Separating Wants from Needs in Your Budget?

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According to a Nerdwallet poll conducted by Harris Poll, 64 percent of Americans have accumulated some amount of credit card debt. But the reasons why people overspend is enlightening. In fact, the poll found that only 10 percent of Americans say the most common reason for credit card debt is that their income doesn’t cover everyday necessities.

There could also be psychological factors at play for overspending, like indulging in retail therapy when feeling down and out or having a bad day. But old-fashioned financial sense — like separating wants from needs in your budget — are also factors in overspending. It may seem like a no-brainer that needs are crucial for survival and wants are not. But is your grocery cart full of snack foods and ingredients you could do without?

Take a moment to reevaluate your needs from wants and take the next step toward financial health with these tips.

Focus on the Function

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the idea that you need a new house or car in order for your life to function better. But take a closer look at the issues. If your house has adequate space, but you’re feeling cramped, it’s probably worth waiting it out until your finances are in a place so you can upsize your lifestyle. Or, consider putting a little money into fixing up the attic into a new space instead of buying an all-new home.

The same goes with a car. Your car may just need a new timing belt and set of tires to get it running better. At the same time, don’t be tempted to keep driving a clunker without considering the dangers involved. Thin tires prone to poor air pressure can burn up more gas than a set of new tires. Get creative on ways to save by visiting a site like Tirebuyer.com for deals on tires and direct delivery to your mechanic.

Think About Cross Categories

It’s possible to have wants and needs on your list that blend together. For example, Internet hookup could be a need if you’re trying to grow and run a business from home. However, you may not need the most robust package to make it happen.

It’s easy to overspend on Internet hookup costs if they’re bundled into a phone and cable package. But dropping your landline phone service in favor of a low-cost cell phone plan through Republic Wireless could save you money. You can also cut cable altogether by streaming shows from Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu directly to your TV with a service like Apple TV or Chromecast. Read More→

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Apr
24

Saving Money To Stay Home

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Usually when I write something having to do with working from home, it’s about how to create an income. However, making money isn’t the only necessary ingredient in the stay-at-home recipe. The flip side of the coin is making some sacrifices and finding ways to save money.

When my husband and I first made the decision that I would leave the corporate world in favor of working from home, we knew it was going to take more than just me finding a way to bring in money from home. The amount that I would be making was half – or maybe even less – than I made at my corporate job. We needed to find a way to make it on his Air Force salary and my very small financial contribution.

Get Rid Of Non-essentials

In order to cut out some of our living costs, we sold one of our cars and for the next several years I drove around a lovely (I use that term loosely) car that had been my grandmothers. It certainly wasn’t my dream car, but it got me around town and we also saved a LOT of money when the time came around to pay tax and licensing fees.

We also cut out cable and anything else that we could find in our budget that we could live without. It’s amazing what things we consider “essential” that truly aren’t.

Keep Things Simple

Another aspect of our life that received serious cutbacks was eating out. This was a hard adjustment for me at the time. When I worked full-time outside the home, it seemed easiest many nights to just stop and pick up supper on my way home. And once I began staying home every day, I still wanted the ease of fast food.

I wish I could tell you that I found a way to make that work, but of course that’s not the case. Instead I began working on my cooking skills and learning to make easy, simple meals that kept us within our food budget each month. Read More→

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Apr
19

Could You Run an Online Store from Home?

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Setting up any kind of business from any kind of location is no walk in the park. Many would argue that setting up a business from home is one of the hardest ways to go about it. (Although it should be highlighted that businesses are starting from home at an extraordinary rate these days!) But there are certain home businesses that are a lot harder to get off the ground than others. Copywriting, accounting, or consultancy businesses tend to be pretty feasible pursuits from a residential location. But something like e-commerce seems like a much less feasible business to try running from home.

When people think about e-commerce businesses, they generally imagine the giants of the industry such as Amazon and eBay. That, or they imagine the online branches of established brick-and-mortar businesses. The online store of Barnes & Noble, for example. They don’t usually think about startups that are run by a few people – or even just one person – from home. And if they do, they usually think about fraudsters!

Running an e-commerce business from home is definitely possible, and it can bring you a lot of success if you do it right.

 

E-commerce isn’t as easy as it looks

It’s a little foolish to assume that any kind of business endeavor is an easy one, but a lot of people seem to imagine that starting up an e-commerce business is just that. These days, just about anyone can set up an e-commerce website. You don’t even need products – you can just set one up using the same drag-and-drop website builders that made website creation so easy and accessible about a decade ago.

A lot of the businesses that offer e-commerce platforms and website builders want you to think that the e-commerce game is a pretty simple one that anyone can profit in with minimal effort and financial input. This mindset is what keeps budding amateur entrepreneurs coming to these sorts of websites, after all. But don’t fall for it. E-commerce is something into which you need to be willing to invest quite a lot of money and time. Don’t assume that it’s easy just because starting an e-commerce website has been made incredibly simple. Actually building, marketing, and maintaining the business remains as daunting a task as ever.

 

The WFH attitude

Working from home successfully requires the right approach. You need to have a specific approach – one that features drive and a lot of discipline. As anyone who works from home will tell you, the amount of effort that you need to put into your pursuit to get good results matches or even exceeds that of what people would think of as “regular jobs”. And when you’re actually trying to start your own business, the amount of time and effort you’ll end up spending every day will end up being a lot. (So make sure you don’t burn yourself out too quickly!)

We have a recent post about maintaining professionalism at home that you should definitely check out. Those who are looking to succeed in building an e-commerce business from home need to be as professional and disciplined as they would be at a company’s office – otherwise, there may not be much point in even beginning. Read More→

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Apr
17

Professionalism At Home

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One of benefits of working from home is the ability to have a relaxed atmosphere. You can set your own scheduled, work around your family and even lounge in your pajama pants from time to time.

However … one of the drawbacks of working from home is the ability to have a relaxed atmosphere. Yep, you read that right. As much as I love working from the comfort of my home, there is a serious side to my business as well. There are times when I must set aside my comfort and ensure that my clients get the very best from me.

The question that comes to mind then is how do we retain professionalism while we’re working at home? Here are a few ideas:

Take a shower – I smile as I write this because I know how basic this tip is. However, I know firsthand that it can be difficult to get motivated to get up and shower as if you were heading to an office for the day. Some days it can be hard just to find the time to shower (if you have small kids at home, you’re nodding as you read this). And don’t stop with a shower – put on a cute outfit, add a little makeup and get yourself feeling good. You’ll be surprised what a difference feeling good about yourself can make on your attitude, which will in turn impact your family, your business and all those you come into contact with throughout the day.

Clean your room – While it may or may not be true that “cleanliness is next to godliness,” it has certain proven true in my life that cleanliness helps me to focus. When my office is a mess and my desk is piled high with stacks of paper, I seem to get less done. Take 15 minutes each morning and clear your space as much as possible. Not only will you think more clearly,  you will also be saved from embarrassment if unexpected company (or a client!) stop by. Read More→

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