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Archive for Home Business Articles

40 Days to a Better Business

This week we’ve covered some in-depth topics that will help your business get ready for growth:

* Why you need a business plan

* How to write a mission statement

* The basics of writing a business plan

* Setting up business policies and procedures

* When and how to outsource tasks


What have you learned? What do you need to put into action?


Your homework over the weekend (next 2 days) is:

1. Assess what needs to change in your business in the above areas.

2. Begin outlining your mission statement and business plan.

3. Set a deadline for when you will complete each task.


Get to work! 🙂


Miss any posts from this week or last? Read the entire series here.

.Learn more about starting your own business HERE!

40 Days to a Better Business

There came a time in my business when I simply couldn’t do it all. There too many tasks, too many emails and too many children that needed my attention for me to be able to do it all well. And as hard as it was for me to admit to myself that I needed help back then, I’m SO glad I did.

As work-at-home business owners, many of us with kids underfoot, we tend to think that we have to do it all. I remember thinking to myself that I had ASKED for this life, so it was out of the question to ask for help.  Thankfully, it was right around this time that a godly friend pointed out to me that even Moses had to be told when he needed help. And God provided that help when he asked. (See Exodus 18)

So, how do we know when it’s time to get help?

Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

1. Are there enough hours in the day for me to accomplish what’s on my list (without losing my sanity)?

2. Are there tasks on my list that only I can do that are getting pushed aside by general tasks that someone else can do?

3. Can I find a volunteer/intern to train or afford to pay someone to help me? Read More→

40 Days to a Better Business

One of the most stressful parts of being in business is handling the difficult situations that arise from time to time. Hopefully writing your business plan has helped you identify some of the weak areas in your business.  Sometimes, though, you simply can’t see the potential problems that are looming ahead and so there is just no way to prepare for them.

To aid you in handling the tough situations that will crop up when you’re in business, it’s important that you write up policies and procedures. It’s especially important if you will be hiring employees. Your policies and procedures will help to make sure that all of your business contacts – clients and employees alike – are on the same page. They will also give you the foundation to stand on if some type of dispute arises.

Let’s get started:

Begin outlining your policies and procedures by pinpointing weak areas. Some of these can only be learned over time by dealing with them as they occur. However, you can look through your business plan and pick out any weak areas that you can address in your Policies and Procedures. Also, ask trusted colleagues for ideas and suggestions.  Try to think through what parts of your business may cause confusion for customers, especially if you do things differently than other companies of your type.

Over the years, it became clear that one area of confusion at CWAHM was the types of ads that we will (or won’t) post. After answering the same questions time and time again, I realized it made much more sense to simply post our advertising policies and procedures on the website. I still get questions once in a while, but I can simply give them the link. There’s rarely an argument since the policies are spelled out in black and white for all to see.

Define how you will address each area. Now it’s time to think through not only what questions need to be answered, but how you will lay the answers out for your clients and employees. If your business is primarily online, you may want to choose some policies to post online. You can also have a document with all of your policies and procedures that you can email if necessary. Read More→


40 Days to a Better Business: Day 8 – Your Mission Statement

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40 Days to a Better Business

Before digging into your business plan, let’s begin by writing your business mission statement. We want it to clearly reflect WHY you’re in business and WHAT your business is all about.  Begin by making a list of things that you might want to include in your mission statement. Take a look at the mission statements of other companies or ministries to give you an idea of what might work for you.

Below are a couple of things to think through as you start jotting down ideas for your mission statement.

Short and Sweet

You want your mission statement to be concise, so keep it short and simple. There’s no need for big words or fancy language. You want it to give an overview of your business in words that anyone can understand.

Personal Is Good

You want your mission statement to connect with your customers and clients. It should give them the sense that your business is more about THEM then it is about YOU. Think through questions like:

“What have I been called by God to do?”

“Who have I been called to serve?”

“Why am I starting this business?” Read More→

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The Solution to the Problem of Not Getting Noticed

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DanaGetting iStock_000002807197XSmallnoticed above the crowd for the home business owner can be very frustrating and cost much in profits, time, and money. And very often, home business owners run on thin margins and even non­existent marketing budgets. How can you get the word out about

what you do when there is so much competition out there and very little money?

Well, here are some ideas to help you with two common problems when it comes to getting noticed:

1) Very little customer engagement.

You may be heavily involved in social media yet you get little response. What might take you over that hump is customer testimonials. Have none available? Then you might want to consider giving some copies away in exchange for reviews. Bloggers are always looking for content and they love to get free stuff! If you offer an affiliate link in exchange for promoting your work, then you will have the benefit of somebody else who believes in your product or service and who is motivated to help you.

When a customer is satisfied with your product or service, be sure to ask for a testimonial. Make sure that that testimonial is results oriented. Want a really powerful testimony? Ask your satisfied customers to make a video! And be sure to offer a link to a website so they see the benefit in taking the time for you.

2) Nobody knows you exist.

Without a marketing budget, you don’t have the means for advertising. Therefore no one knows you exist out there. How can you overcome that? Read More→

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Setting Up Shop as a Virtual Assistant

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Diana Ennen, Virtual Marketing bloggerSetting up a virtual assistant business is relatively easy, but it’s important to have a complete plan of action set out in advance. I’m a firm believer that the initial planning phase of a business is crucial to its success. This ensures that you don’t leave any vital steps unaddressed and also prevents any unexpected surprises down the road. Therefore, I recommend first writing a complete business plan for your business. This plan doesn’t need to be anything technical, just how you plan to operate your business including advertising methods, pricing, business hours, equipment and supplies needed, etc.

The next step is to select the appropriate name. Take your time here as you want your business name to be an asset by appealing to your potential clients. Your name needs to clearly express what services you provide and not limit you if you choose to expand your business into other areas. Decide on a name that people would want to call if they have virtual assisting needs.

To operate a business you are required by law to have the appropriate licenses. This is your permit to do business locally. It’s a simple procedure that doesn’t require a considerable amount of time. Contact your city and county officials under occupational licenses for complete details or go online. Most VAs start out initially as a sole proprietorship and then might change later.

Now it’s time to set up your bookkeeping. I find that the most important ingredient to keeping good books is keeping it simple. If it’s easy to do, and doesn’t require a lot of effort, I tend it do it more regularly. You will want to keep track of all your income and expenses. Save all receipts and pay all your expenses out of your business checking account. A software program such as Quickbooks is ideal for our type of business. Not only does it allow you to keep accurate records, but it also enables you to track exactly where the most money is coming from. This enables you to target your marketing efforts more in that area. Read More→

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40 Days to a Better Business: Day 4 – Budgeting

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40 Days to a Better Business

Budget. That word has always made me cringe. It’s comical that God called me to run a ministry like CWAHM because to be honest with you, I am pretty horrible with money. I’ve made a lot of financial mistakes over the years and am still cleaning up the consequences of some of those bad decisions.

The beauty of it is we serve a forgiving, redeeming God who can take our mess and turn it into something beautiful. If we’re willing to follow His principles, we too can learn to be good stewards of our money. It’s never too late for us! So, if you are like me and even the thought of a budget make you run screaming in the other direction – read on.

Budgeting doesn’t have to be scary, but it will be hard. God calls us to do many hard things in life and for some of us managing our money is simply one of those things. But, the longer we run away from it and try to handle things on our own, the bigger our mess will become.

When it comes right down to it, what we must learn is to live within our means and be good stewards of the money that God gives us.

The good news is we can learn to do this – live within our means – no matter our income level. In fact, it makes sense that if we can spend less than we earn living on a small salary, we can certainly learn to do so with a large salary as well.

There are several ways to get started with a budget:

* Put all your money into one big “pot” and take money out for each need. You’ll want to make a list of expenses such as groceries, etc, to be sure that you have enough in the pot to cover those items before you go spending money from the pot on things that are more wants than needs. Read More→

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Running Your Business from Home

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Many entrepreneurs and freelance workers long for the chance to run their businesses from their own homes, without the stress and expense of commuting and renting office space. If you are wondering about the possibility of doing this yourself, you need to look behind the dream and get a realistic assessment of how this would work for you. There are several key requirements for working from home, plus considerations about whether this is a model that would be appropriate for your business.

Your home

Before you start planning your wonderful new life, you need to look at your house and decide whether there is somewhere suitable from you to work from – ideally a spare room that you can close off from the rest of the house. If you are running a business, you can’t work productively with interruptions and distractions. You might have a beautiful office area set up in your living room, but if your family is constantly walking through or wanting to watch TV in there, you are going to find it hard to concentrate. One alternative would be a loft conversion or extension, or even an outside office; a dedicated building in the backyard with all the facilities you need to run your business in comfort and seclusion.

Your business

If you run a retail business and are tired of going to the store every day, you need to ask yourself why; is the business failing to perform? Does it not interest you anymore? Maybe you need a new challenge? Whatever the cause, if it’s not something you wish to tackle, you could consider transferring to an online business model, where you sell via a website with no retail outlet. It could then be run from home, providing you have sufficient storage for your stock or can drop ship your orders. Losing the convenience of working in town might also be a concern, for example, you might be used to popping out to a local supplier for sundries and marketing materials. There are very few requirements you’ll have that can’t be dealt with online though. For example, if you always get your business brochures from the local print shop, when you work at home you can use a brochure maker to design your marketing materials, which you can then use online or email out to have professionally printed.


Working from home requires self-discipline; you need to be able to apply yourself to complete a full working week. Your partner can’t expect you to help with chores or go out shopping during those working hours, and you need to be able to resist the temptation to do something else when you should be working. Having said that, if you work from home you can make your own schedule. You don’t have to work 8 am to 5 pm; you could work whatever hours suited you, providing they added up to the equivalent of your office-based job.

There are significant advantages regarding time and costs savings, flexibility and comfort associated with working from home, and with the interconnectedness of technology, you can communicate with suppliers, employees, and clients with ease. If you want to make the transition but don’t have the facilities in your current home, it might be time to consider relocation to a property with the accommodation you need to make your dream a reality.

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40 Days to a Better Business: Day 3 – Prioritizing

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40 Days to a Better Business
So, over the last couple of days we’ve talked through scheduling, finding a dedicated working space and getting organized. Now we need to turn all of that effort into accomplishment. No matter what business you’re in, no matter what season your family is in, learning to prioritize tasks is what will help you succeed.

So, let’s jump in and get started.

1. Get out your daily list of tasks (see Day 1) and your planner/calendar.

2. Add any additional tasks and errands to tomorrow’s spot in your planner.

I always use pencil to write in my planner so that change/add/delete easily. Other work-at-homers that I’ve talked with use colored pencils and assign a different color to each different kind of task. For instance, home tasks (laundry, cleaning) are written in blue; business tasks are written in green. Read More→

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40 Days to a Better Business: Day 2 – Office Organization

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40 Days to a Better Business


You wouldn’t think this to be true, but finding a good place for a workplace when you’re working from home can be one of biggest obstacles to overcome.

I’ve worked everywhere in our home from the family room to the furnace room to a spare bedroom to the kitchen table. Anything can work. It will all just depend on what season your family is in and what works for you at the time. Be flexible and don’t be afraid to think outside the box. In our book, So You Want To Be a Work-at-Home Mom, Diana Ennen and I tell the story of a woman who transforms a closet into an office. Truly, you can make the most of whatever you have.

As your business grows, however, it becomes more important for you to have a dedicated space to work. There are, of course, business tax benefits and in order to receive the full deduction, you must have a separate space that your business can call its own. (Please contact your tax professional for details.)

No matter what your work space looks like – big or small – it’s imperative that you put together a system for keeping your business organized. My husband often teases me about the fact that my online business generates so much paperwork. But it’s true. There are receipts to keep track of, tax documents to store; the list goes on and on. Read More→

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