CWAHM Devotional

Do Life DifferentDo Life Different
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
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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Apr
10

Revealed: What It’s REALLY Like To Work From Home

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When you’ve got a growing family, you’ll want to spend as much time as possible with them. While many people feel they have no choice but to go out and get a full-time job, others are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work from home. For those individuals, it makes sense to become a stay-at-home entrepreneur. Sure, there are some jobs where you can do all your work from home. But, it’s a more flexible choice to work for yourself.

As you can appreciate, working from home gives you the chance to see more of your family and not have to spend many hours each day elsewhere. Many parents feel like it can be a dream come true if they decide to quit their regular 9-5 jobs and work at home instead. But, there are some things you don’t always get told about being a stay-at-home entrepreneur.

If you’re thinking of working from home, you might wish to read this article to help you make an informed decision about your future career path.

You might find it hard to separate your personal and work lives

As a stay-at-home parent, your priority will be to look after your growing family. When your kids go off to kindergarten, you’ll have a few hours to dedicate to your work. The trouble is, when you’ve got young babies to look after, you’ll seldom have the free time you need!

Of course, it helps to have a supportive spouse and family to take on caregiving duties from time-to-time. Still, you should just be aware that you can’t dedicate eight hours a day straight towards your work when you’re working from home.

The good news is that many people find creative ways to split their personal and professional lives while working in their homes. It makes sense to dedicate a room in your house as your “office” of sorts. In essence, it’s a place that is child-free and only gets used for the purposes of your work.

 

You might forget to build up a retirement fund

When you work for an employer, you will usually have the opportunity to pay into a retirement fund. That way, once you retire, you can enjoy a comfortable living when you are no longer working. However, when you are an entrepreneur working from home, you have to organize all of that stuff yourself.

With a business and family in tow, it can often be hard to find the time to research and set up a retirement fund. When you do decide to work for yourself from home, it’s vital that you put aside some time to get that ticked off your to-do list.

Fortunately, there are many ways to set yourself up for retirement, and you don’t have to just consider a pension plan. Take a look at some articles over at fortunateinvestor.com to see examples of how you can invest for your financial future.

 

You’ll feel guilty about not getting on top of your household chores

Even if there isn’t any pressure on you from your beloved, you’ll still feel like the onus is on you to keep your house immaculate. That might be a task you can easily achieve if you don’t need to do any work. But, juggling childcare, work, and household chores can often be a real struggle!

You will most likely put pressure on yourself. Why? For the simple reason that you are at home for the majority of the time! When you had a full-time job working elsewhere, you never felt guilty about not being at home to keep it clean and tidy.

 

You are the boss

Okay, so we’ve talked about the things work-from-home parents never really tell those thinking about doing the same thing. It’s now time to look at the advantages of quitting your day job and become a home-based entrepreneur!

Perhaps the most obvious one of all is that you answer only to yourself. Well, you also answer to your clients, but you ultimately dictate what work you will do, who you do it for, and how long you do it. Few full-time occupations allow you such freedom and flexibility.

You’re free to follow your dreams

If you’re quite passionate about a subject, the chances are high that you’ll want to work in the niche that represents it. When you work for one employer, you will seldom have the freedom to “do your own thing” because there are set tasks you get paid to complete.

As a work-from-home entrepreneur, you’re free to follow your dreams and decide how you wish to make a living. Thanks to the Internet, it’s easier than ever to do all kinds of things; especially working in roles where you would have traditionally needed to outlay a lot of capital.

Take a look at this brilliant article over at entrepreneur.com for examples of the kinds of things you could do if you ran a business from home.

 

You’ll probably make a better living

If you’ve only ever earned the minimum wage when working for other people, it could come as a shock to you how your earning potential could now skyrocket! Of course, money isn’t everything as we all know. But, when you’ve got a growing family in tow, it’s important to ensure you earn enough money to contribute towards your household costs.

Another bonus of today’s digital age is that you can do all kinds of work from home that pays quite well. In fact, it’s not hard to find work that pays more than the equivalent minimum hourly wage in your area!

 

You can still have a routine without needing to wear formal clothes

Last, but not least, you will no doubt have been used to wearing certain attire such as a uniform for your job. And you will have been familiar with your daily work and home life schedules.

You can still have a constant routine, but you don’t need to dress up for it. You could even do your work in bed wearing your pajamas if you wanted to!

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Apr
10

Listening To The Right Voice

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listeningFor me, every day is filled with voices. There are the sweet voices of my children, the warm voice of my husband and even the near-silent voice of or gecko.

And then there are the voices in my head. Do you know the ones I’m talking about? The voices that urge you to quit; that ask you why you bother trying … you’ll just fail anyway. The voices that say things like, “No one cares about what you have to say or what you’re working on. You’ll never succeed at this.” Some of these voices are echoes of things that people have said to me. Some of them are echoes of things I believe about myself deep down. And some are lies from the enemy wh is bent on our destruction.

When I spend time in God’s Word I find another voice – one that encourages. “I can do anything through Christ Jesus my Lord” (Phil 4:13).

It’s not something we think about or talk about often, but one of the major hurdles that must be overcome to be successful in working at home (or in anything really) is learning which voice to listen to.

There will always be naysayers telling you that something cannot possibly be done. There will always be the creeping doubts in the back of your mind, where you secretly wonder if you really CAN do any of these things you dream of. And there will always be the lies of the enemy, trying to throw you off track and get you to do ANYTHING other than what God has for you.

There will always be these things.

But there is also a forever truth that stands above all these. A redeeming truth that we can hear whispering to us if we choose to shut out the din around us.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  – Jeremiah 29:11
Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. – 1 Chronicles 28:20
I can do everything through him who gives me strength.  – Philippians 4:13

Which voice will you listen to today? Will you sit in defeat, listening to the naysayers and the mocking voices? Or will you stand firm in God’s truth and walk forward in faith?

If you feel a pull toward a business or a ministry, chances are the negative voices will get louder. You will have to make the daily, sometimes hourly, choice to stand firm in what His Words tells us to be true.

God loves you. You are forgiven. You are redeemed.  You are chosen.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jill Hart founded Christian Work at Home Ministries (CWAHM) in 2000 to assist other Christians who desire to work from home. She is the author of the devotional book, Do Life Different and co-author of So You Want To Be a Work-at-Home Mom. Jill is working to complete her master’s degree in Professional Counseling.

Jill has articles published in In Touch Magazine, P31 Woman magazine and Focus on the Family’s Thriving Family, as well as across the web on sites like DrLaura.com. She speaks to audiences around the country about faith and business topics. Learn more about Jill at www.CWAHM.com and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

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Apr
07

8 Steps to Creating Financial Success with Your Brand

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money is tightWe all want financial success. But how do we get there? What proven methods in this digital age will lead us to that pot of gold just looming over the horizon, that Promised Land that we eagerly await? When will it ever get past a mirage and to the real thing that we’ve been dreaming for and planning for?

Here are eight proven steps, key lessons I learned from both the school of hard knocks, and Ryan Deiss from Digital Marketer in my pursuit of a Professional Digital Marketer certification which I achieved last year.

1) The first step to financial success with your brand is to plan a sales funnel strategy or sales process strategy.

Here are the key areas that you need to achieve in this area:

Map out customer stories
Write a statement of value
List all your products and/or services
Brainstorm three giveaways
Brainstorm three loss leaders (low cost products)
Brainstorm three core offer products
Brainstorm other products that can be added on
Make a plan to nurture your customers so they will return to you

2) The second step to financial success with your brand is to plan your content marketing strategy.

Here are some key activities to help you do that:

Identify your funnel content plans (top, middle, and bottom)
Plan or improve a WordPress Site
Plan a basic blog launch (or re-launch)

3) The third step to financial success with your brand is to plan your paid marketing strategy.

Research popular sites to refine your customer profiles
Choose which traffic stores you want to campaign in
Map your traffic system plan

4) The fourth step to financial success with your brand is to plan your social marketing strategy.

Here’s four key activities that you need to do:

Assess your current social media
Plan out your social media topics
Create your social media listening plan
Plan your keywords

5) The fifth step to financial success with your brand is to plan your email marketing strategy.

Here’s some basic ideas to get you started:

Choose an email service
Identify your promotional assets
Create your promotional plans Read More→

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