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 Mixing Faith & Business

Aug
27

Balancing Work And Family – 3 Tips To Keep You Sane

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The balancing act – every mother’s nightmare. Many days we feel like circus jugglers with more plates in the air than we can possibly handle.  Over the years, however, I’ve learned a few secrets that help me keep things in perspective:

Keep God First

In Matthew 6:33 we’re told to seek God’s kingdom above all else. Like the apostle Peter who saw Jesus walking on water and asked to join him – as soon as we take our eyes off of Christ and begin to doubt, we sink.

In order to keep our eyes on Him, we need to be in relationship with Him. Schedule time in your day to read God’s Word and to talk with Him in prayer. Surround yourself with friends who love the Lord and who will point you back to Him when you struggle.

Don’t Be Afraid To Choose Family Over Business

As business owners, we do our best to maintain professionalism even when we’re working at our kitchen table with kids hanging on to our ankles. We have deadlines, client demands to meet and emails and phone calls to return. However, there comes a time in every work-at-home moms life when family simply must come first.

It may be that your child is struggling or it could be an extended family member in crisis. The point is, it’s ok to step away from your business when absolutely necessary. Be respectful – let your clients know that you will be gone and when you plan to return. But don’t be afraid to set business aside for a time to be there for people who need you.

 

Plan Ahead

This is by far my biggest struggle. I’m a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of girl. I love working from home because every day is different and, for the most part, I’m in control of what I do and when. However, as a work-at-home mom so many distractions – emails to read, laundry to do and kids needing attention. So, I’ve had to learn to plan ahead.

What works for me is to plot everything out weekly, giving each day a title for both home and business. So, Mondays are usually laundry days on the home front and “clean out inbox” days for business. Tuesdays tend to be more relaxed with maybe a trip to the park or the swimming pool with some writing to be done in the early morning. Find what works for you and make the best possible use of your time.

It may seem backwards, but with some extra effort you can turn your work-at-home workplace into a relaxing, enjoyable atmosphere. Make it a point to spend the quality with your family that you so often wish for (yep, I do that, too.).

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Aug
06

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, we also changed out insurance compnay to insurancepartnership.org/motor-trade-insurance/ just because it was a little more affordable. 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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Jul
30

When Calling In Sick is Not An Option

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jill-new14feverThe phone was ringing and I couldn’t find the energy to answer it. I knew I should answer, needed to answer, but couldn’t summon the strength necessary. I’d been fighting the discouragement and frustration of a lingering illness for months and didn’t see any end in sight. Doctor’s said I’d see an improvement within six months of beginning this new medicine, but a month in and nothing felt different, in fact, I felt worse. I couldn’t imagine how my business was going to survive if something didn’t change soon.

Dealing with sickness as a mom is always challenging. When you add in the responsibilities of a business it can feel downright impossible. As I dealt with my health problems over the course of the last year, I’ve found a few ways to keep my business afloat while I’m healing.

Schedule your time in small chunks.
During the toughest weeks of my illness, I would set daily goals like “work for one hour” and “work on laundry.” By giving myself small goals like these I was almost always able to achieve them. It is amazing how crossing things off from my to-do list helped me to feel productive. My efficiency was a far cry from what it normally is, but I felt encouraged by these accomplishments.

It’s also imperative to schedule specific times to rest. Despite the fact that I was sick, I felt guilty for feeling so tired all of the time. By penciling in fifteen minutes or so at a time to rest, I was freed from the guilt. It became one more item to check off of my daily to-do list.

The extra benefit was that scheduling it in helped my three-year old to adjust to these short nap times. I would lay on the couch and rest and he would sit with me and watch a movie or play the Wii. This way I always knew where he was and he knew I was there for him if he needed me.

Outsource as much as possible.
My virtual assistant (VA), without even being aware of it, was crucial to me during this time. She was able to take on some of the tasks that I do on a regular basis. What a relief to know that I could count on her to do the things that HAD to be done. Even the weeks when I was at my lowest I knew the necessary tasks were taken care of.

If your kids are old enough you can “outsource” some additional chores to them while you’re healing. My six-year old was such a great source of hope and help to me. By helping me more than usual with tasks like laundry, vacuuming and even cooking (she can put crescent rolls on a cookie sheet better than any other six-year old I know), she felt like she was assisting in my recovery. So often our kids feel helpless, like there is no way that they can help us when we’re ill. This was a wonderful way for her to feel needed and helpful.

Let your family help.
During the months that I dealt with health problems, my family played a crucial role in keeping my business afloat. My husband would often take the kids out to dinner or simply outside to play, giving me time to rest and work if I felt up to it.

Grandma, too, comes in especially handy if she’s available and willing. Although, a neighbor or good friend may be willing to help out when needed.

Don’t take on too much.
Even when you’re feeling your best it’s important to learn the art of saying no. Know your limits and don’t go overboard – even with good activities. When you’re dealing with sickness, it’s imperative that you be honest with yourself about your limits. Don’t try to take on all that you would were you well.

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Jul
09

Six Ways to Make Your Marketing Count

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jill-new14According to the National Center for Policy Analysis there are nearly 17 million home-based businesses in the U.S. today. As the number of business rise, it becomes increasingly more difficult to effectively market a small business. And when the small business is run by mom with a minuscule advertising the budget, the challenge becomes even tougher. As moms trying to make our way in this billion dollar industry, how do we best focus our marketing efforts?

Do Your Homework
The best way to get good results from your marketing efforts is to research the sites you’re considering. Look for websites that are aimed at your target market, that have premium ad placements and that are willing to share their traffic statistics, number of subscribers, etc.

Be Bold
Statistics show that the bigger the ad, the higher the response. Double Click, a digital marketing firm, did a study in 2006 that showed a “strong correlation between the size of ads and their clickthrough performance.” So, whenever possible, choose a banner size larger than the standard 468 x 60. It may be pricier, but the results should be worth the extra expense.

Think Fresh
Try to find innovative ways to reach your market. Consider trying a rich media campaign that includes a video advertisement, banners formatted in Flash, and other interactive ads. By finding new ways to present your business or product, you’ll catch the eye of viewers who might not normally have noticed your advertisement.

Be Personal
The potential customers who view your ads want you to connect with them. They want to know how your product or service will make a difference in their lives. Write your ad copy in such a way that it brings the viewers need for your product to their attention.

Another way to make your advertising more personal is to use images – especially real-life photographs. You can find royalty free photos online on various websites.

Be Unique
Make your ad stand out by creating something different and unique – something that represents your company well. Diana Ennen, a publicist and president of VirtualWordPublishing.com states, “With so much competition out there today, it’s important to make your ad stand out and speak directly to your target audience. No one knows your business and clients better than you, so create the an ad that tells everyone why they should buy from you.”

Read More→

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May
31

Three Tips To Get You Started Blogging for Business

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creative-workOver the last several years blogging has become the foundation for social media campaigns of businesses big and small. Where Facebook and Twitter help keep companies in the limelight, spreading the word about special events, discounts and newsworthy items, blogs are the place where companies build their reputation and make sales. As popular as blogging has become, I often hear from home-based business owners who are trying to figure out exactly what a blog consists of and how they can use one to benefit their business. Below are three tips that can help maximize the impact of your business blog.

1. It’s All In The Name
Be sure to choose a name for your blog that is both descriptive and easy to remember. Try to stick to either your business name or the name of your star product/service. If none of these are available consider using your name or business tagline. Also, consider possibly adding in your keywords … such as Publicity Virtual Assistant.

2. Use Keywords Effectively
When you write posts for your business blog be conscious of the words that you choose. Pepper your posts with keywords relating to your business, products, services and brand. These keywords will trigger Search Engine results and help you reach the top of the results for your keywords. Be careful not to overuse keywords, though, because readers will get frustrated and the Search Engines consider that against the rules.

Also, consider keyword phrases – often called long tail keyword phrases (why, I’m not sure!). Long tail keywords are simply a sting of words that make up a phrase that represent your keywords. Think, what would people type in Google to find me. Examples, “how to start a business.” Think … how can I define my blog more (or this particular post). I wrote this blog post on … (fill in the blank), now what keywords do I need to put in so others can find me? Read More→

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May
03

The Choice

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Recently my business-sense was thrown for a loop. I had a discussion with a colleague about marketing efforts and how frustrated she was that she wasn’t seeing the increase in sales that she desired. A day or so later I had a conversation with a woman that I mentor about how great her scalesbusiness was growing, but how she still felt like she couldn’t reach the level of success that she was seeking. And then I talked with a wonderful Christian businessman who told me all about the success he was seeing in his business – he has been given awards by his company, all kinds of accolades and even an expensive car. And yet he was still straining toward the ever-moving target of success.

Those conversations left me wondering if I should be more focused on money making. Was I doing myself and my business a disservice by not climbing the so-called corporate ladder? I began to doubt myself and my decisions. I began to make a list of all the marketing efforts that I needed to begin to ramp up sales and make things happen.

But then, as I sat reading my Bible one morning, I felt God nudging me to take a good hard look at the real issue going on. I felt Him – in that still small voice of the Holy Spirit – asking me if I was going to choose to pursue money or choose Him.

Ouch.

We know that God’s Word tells us in Luke 16:13 that

“No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”

I saw that I had a choice to make. One that I have made countless times in the past.

I could set my sights on money (or success, fame, fortune) and find myself:

  • Worried only about money.
  • Making decisions based solely on finances
  • Not considering the human/ministry aspect of my business – the women who are looking for help to make their way home to their children

Or I could choose to set my eyes on Christ alone and find myself:

  • Ruled by His peace that surpasses understanding
  • Making decisions based on God’s leading – regardless of if they make sense financially
  • Tuned in to the people my business impacts , reaching them for the kingdom of God

The choice is ours. We can choose to rely on our business-smarts, our financial know-how and the prescriptions for success given to us by the world. Or we can choose to focus on our relationships with God and let Him lead us in how to go about running our businesses.

What will your choice be?

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Feb
20

40 Days to a Better Business: Day 1 – Scheduling

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40 Days to a Better Business

 

One of the questions that I get most often about working from home is how to get it all done. How does one person manage a household and a business at the same time?

I’m here to encourage you that it CAN be done. It’s a stretch at times, but nothing worthwhile is ever easy, right?

One thing that has helped me manage all of the laundry, cleaning, cooking, blogging, social media and other home and business chores is creating a schedule. Now, some of you reading think this is a no-brainer as maybe this comes naturally to you. Others of you are like me – kicking and screaming that the whole reason we work from home is the flexibility. We threw the schedule out the window when we quit the corporate world!

However, businesses and families alike work better with at least a rough outline of a schedule. Kids especially benefit from a more scheduled environment. When I began scheduling our weeks a bit, my kids responded to that with better attitudes and less acting out.

Clinical Psychologist Dr. Laura Markham says, “Children, like the rest of us, handle change best if it is expected and occurs in the context of a familiar routine.   A predictable routine allows children to feel safe, and to develop a sense of mastery in handling their lives.”

Just as kids respond to routine, I’ve found that my business behaves better with a schedule as well. The key is to find what works best for you, your business and your family. Don’t compare yourselves to everyone around you. Your life and your business will never look like theirs – because they are YOURS.

We spend too much of life trying to make ourselves fit into the perfect picture we think we see around us. What we really need to be doing is seeking Christ above all. And then working within how He created us to be the best stewards of what He has given us.

One thing that I have found works well for me is to set a day for everything. I’ve adapted this over the years to fit the seasons of my business and family life. Currently my days look something like this:

  • Mondays – Housework and laundry, writing in between, email catch-up from the weekend
  • Tuesdays – Grocery shopping and business tasks, writing and speaking prep
  • Wednesdays – Bible study (in season), marketing tasks
  • Thursdays – Business tasks as much as possible with playtime in between (when my kids are home from school)
  • Fridays – Take it Easy Day. Lunch with my husband or a friend. Business tasks as time allows.
  • Saturdays – Laundry … again. Cleaning with the help of my family.
  • Sundays – Church and a good, long nap Read More→
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Feb
19

40 Days to a Better Business: An Introduction

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Beginning tomorrow on CWAHM, we will begin a journey called “40 Days to a Better Business.”

As you join us on this journey, I would encourage you to spend today in prayer, preparing for what God has for you and your business.

Here are some ideas on how you can be praying and preparing:

* Ask God to show you what He would have you do better for your business.

* Ask God to reveal to you things that you may be unknowingly doing that may be harmful your business.

* Create a place to take notes and journal during this process. A document on your computer will work or you can buy a special notebook to keep your thoughts and ideas in.

* Make a list of things that you would like to see change/improve in your business.

Begin each day of our 40 day journey:

* In quiet time with God – as little as 1 verse in Proverbs.

* In prayer – ask God to open your eyes to what He has for you to do and learn that day.

* With a blank sheet of paper (in your notebook or computer document) ready to make note of what God reveals and ideas that come to mind.

* With a great attitude and a desire to make a change!

40 Days to a Better Business

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Jan
29

Work vs. Relationship – Which Matters More?

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Hard work, however noble, without a relationship with the Father proves empty, meaningless and despairing.” – Tom Nelsonfather and son

In his book, Work Matters, Nelson talks about the prodigal son. Now, I know this is a story that many of us have heard over and over throughout the years, but I caught something different when Nelson wrote about the story through the lens of work.

Nelson talks about the elder son in the story – the one who stayed home and continued to work diligently; the one who is angered when his father rejoicing over the returning of the “bad son,” the good for nothing son.

He points out that while the oldest son had worked hard, “his work was not connected to a loving relationship with his father.”

Stop and read that again. Let’s ponder that.

Let’s look to our own hearts.

Is our work connected to a loving relationship with God?

Or are we working our way through life trying to earn His love? Trying to garner His favor by doing good things, the “right” things.

I see myself in that oldest son. I see myself trying to work hard and wanting God to notice me – to notice all the things I’m doing.

But that isn’t what matters to God.

Our RELATIONSHIP with Him is what matters.

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Jan
04

Jumpstart Your Home-Based Business This New Year

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jillThe jumpbeginning of a new year can be a great time for your home-based business. There are many ways that you can use this time of year to begin new growth and continue the rush from the holiday season.

For many people, this is the time of year that they reflect upon their lives. New Year’s resolutions are made and goals for the New Year are set. Many women in our society are unhappy in the corporate world and seeking to make a change and enter the home-based working world. What better time of year to be presenting your home-based business opportunity as often as possible?

There are many ways to go about the task of increasing your business and recruiting. Take time before the New Year begins to make a list of strategies that you can implement to get your name out there. Also, think about what small changes you can make to increase customer loyalty, repeat business and other business aspects like these.

If your goal is to increase recruitment for business partners, consider finding a Leads program in which to take part. Many times these programs can provide you with interested home-based business seekers with which to share your business opportunities. Look for a program that is suited to your particular business or beliefs. There are many different types of Leads programs available on the internet – take the time to find the one that suits you, your business and your budget best.

A great recruiting tool is to sponsor contests. You can do this both online and in your local area. This can create a “buzz” about your business and provide you with names of people who might be interested in your business opportunity. One “out of the box” way that I have heard of the contest sponsorship idea being done is to put contest entry boxes in local women’s fitness clubs or places that would fit your particular business. Use “Customer Care Cards” as the entry forms so that you can collect the name, address, phone number and email address of the person entering your contest. Follow up with a phone call to each and every entry. Some may be interested in hosting a party for you or in hearing about your business opportunity.

Maybe your goal this New Year isn’t recruitment, but sales growth. Make a list of creative ways that you can encourage customers to consider your products. You can jumpstart this year’s sales by offering “After Christmas” specials, after-purchase freebies, contests and more.

One way that many home-based business owners online neglect to take advantage of is the signature line in emails and when posting in forums. This can be a great tool to advertise your business, specials and contests. I receive many emails from business owners who do not include a signature line with their business name, and sometimes they fail to even put their name at the end of the email! This is not only unprofessional, but makes it much more difficult to find out more about their business. Every email sent this way is a potential sale lost.

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