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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 Mixing Faith & Business

Dec
03

Let God Invade Your Business

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A few years ago I had one of those “lightning bolt” moments. Each year I sit down to write out goals and dreams for my business. This particular year, as I sat and thought through what I hoped to accomplish in the upcoming year, how I hoped to help people, it hit me. Where does God fit in to all of this? Does He fit comfortably in the “Spiritual” categories or is He a part of everything that CWAHM is and does?

Whoa. Talk about a challenging question.

As I wrestled with this I came to realization that God wants to invade our lives – and that means our businesses, too. In the gospels we see Jesus meeting people right where they were. He healed the sick, fed the hungry, and taught the seeking. He met their physical needs as well as their spiritual needs.

He wanted to be a part of their everyday lives, not just the days they went to the temple (the Old Testament equivalent of church). He wasn’t afraid to hang out with the sick, the hurting, the “sinners.”

He wants to be a part of our everyday life, too. He wants to invade our families, our marriages, our businesses. He wants to show us that there is a different way of doing things. A better way. A way that points to the divine even in the midst of most basic business task.

He wants to be in:

* The decision to be kind to the difficult customer.

* The decision to give a sale price when we could charge full price to someone who isn’t aware of the sale.

* The decision to give a product away to someone we know is struggling or hurting.

It’s our choice.  We can choose to do business with Jesus. Or we can choose to do things our own way…usually the way we’ve been taught by people who seem to know how to “do” business, how to make money. And yet, in the end … is really about making money?

So I saw that there is nothing better for a person than to enjoy their work…” Ecclesiastes 3:22, NCV

Where does God fit in your business?

Nov
19

Thanksgiving Perspective

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jill-new14Do you feel like a success? As work-at-home moms it’s easy to get caught up in the “look what she has accomplished” mindset and fail to see all that God has done in our own lives and businesses. We need to shift our perspectives from  “what I want to accomplish” to “WOW! Look what God has done!”

Thanksgiving is upon us and this seems like the perfect time of year to think about how God sees you and your success. Do you believe that He wants you to succeed?

May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.

Believe it or not, the sentence above is a quote directly from Scripture – Psalm 20:4. If our hearts are right with God, we are on track for success in life. Now, this may not mean that each of us can be a millionaire, but it does mean that God wants to lead us down the path to success.

We must, however, keep in mind that God’s idea of success in our lives may not look exactly like the version we see in our heads. God first and foremost wants us to be the person that He created us to be; to live a life of sacrifice, obedience and love. We can’t simply hoard our money and resources for ourselves, living in fear that we won’t have enough,  hoping that God will bless that. God calls us to a much bigger belief than that!He holds success in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless.

This proverb (see Proverbs 2:7) is a powerful reminder that our God is a God of justice. He “holds success” for the upright. Does that mean wicked people can’t be successful? No. We must look at the sentence following and be reminded that God is our shield – if we trust in Jesus. Only by trusting in the person and power of Jesus can we be seen as “blameless in God’s sight.” (1 Corinthians 1:8)

You see, God looks at us much differently than we look at ourselves. We see our sins, failures and shortcomings. However, when we believe in Jesus as our salvation, God sees us as blameless. What freedom there is in that truth!

There are other areas of life where we need a perspective change as well. You see, many of us, especially Americans see ourselves as poor.  We makes comments like, “I’m so broke.”  I’ve been guilty of this more times than I can count. But I recently had a wake-up call as to how God sees my financial status.

In his book Weird, pastor and author Craig Groeschel shares:

If you earn $37,000 a year, you are in the top 4 percent of all wage earners alive today – certifiably rich by anyone’s definition. If you make $45,000 a year or more, you are in the top 1 percent of wage earners in the world.

How many of us can say our family income is $37,000 or more a year? Many of us easily fit into even the TOP 1 PERCENT of wage earners worldwide. That is a staggering truth. That makes us not poor, but RICH in the world’s eyes….and in God’s eyes. Sadly, we believe we are poor because we do not manage our finances responsibly, nor do we share much of what we have with those in true need.

Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.

Ephesians 4:28 reminds us that have a God-given responsibility to share. This Thanksgiving, let’s change our perspective. Let’s see ourselves for who we truly are – children of the King, co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17), people who have been given much and who need to look outside of ourselves and see the need that exists around us.

Let’s make this Thanksgiving a time of not only thanking God for what He’s given us, but going a step further and changing our lives to reflect our gratefulness.

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Nov
12

10 Ways to Make Blogging Work for Your Business

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jill-new14blogBlogging is a favorite for small business marketers, mainly because of the amazing results they received when they blog consistently. And publicity isn’t the only benefit to blogging. There are many ways that blogging can add merit to your business. In fact, The Wall Street Journal once featured CWAHM in an article on how blogging can help small businesses create a buzz for their products and services. The results from this were amazing and prove that blogging truly works.

Here are ten ways to use blogs to increase your business revenue:

1. Ad Revenue — Offering paid advertising on your blog is one of the easiest ways to see tangible evidence of the benefits of blogging.

2. Link Swaps – Swapping links with other like-minded bloggers increases your standing with search engines. One of the biggest blogs available, problogger.net, recently completed a survey in an attempt to find where bloggers get the most traffic. The overwhelming response? Google at 46%. This shows us how important search engine rankings are. Link swaps are just one way to improve yours.

3. Reviews — Another growing trend online is that of the customer review. People appreciate reading the thoughts of others before they purchase a product. It doesn’t seem to matter how big or small the product, either. Posting reviews of books you’ve read, CDs you love, etc, is a great way to generate traffic for your blog.

4. Free Offers — Who doesn’t love a freebie? There are many ways of using freebies to your advantage.You can offer a free e-book when someone signs up for your newsletter is an easy way to build your subscriber base. Many blogs also offer contests for those who post comments or interact in other ways on the blog.

5. Social Media — Having a strong social media presence is one of the best ways to promote your business. You can make this a bit easier on yourself by connecting your blog to automatically feed posts to just about every major social media site out there. You can also add links to easily allow your blog readers to share you content, making this a great free way to gain visibility.

6. Networking — It goes without saying that building relationships with people is one of the oldest ways of gaining long-time, loyal customers (or in this case, readers). Taking part in the comments discussion on blogs and social media sites is a great way to do this. The key, though, is to be authentic. Don’t simply blast places with the link to your blog; take part in the discussion and provide useful information — not just your business pitch.

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Nov
05

5 Tips For Choosing the Right Home Business

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jill-new14mgyUUaeStarting down a new career path can be both exciting and terrifying, especially if your chosen “career path” is being an entrepreneur and running a home-based business. Below are five questions to ask yourself to help you determine what type of business might be right for you.

1. What is your passion?

Answer this question with the first thing that comes to mind: If money were no object and you could do anything, what would you do? You might have answered “be a writer”, “speak at conferences,” “bring my product idea to life” or any number of things. Whatever your answer, this most likely is your passion. I challenge you to take the time to ponder this and see if there is a way to bring your dream to fruition.

2. What types of things did you like to do as a child?

Many times the toys and games we loved as children give us a glimpse into who we have become as adults. If you loved climbing trees, you may now be an “outdoorsy” type of person. Think about how this might be incorporated into your business. For instance, you might enjoy setting up outdoor birthday parties for children or selling herbs from your backyard garden.

3. What type of products would you be interested in representing?

If you’re looking in the direction of direct sales, whether that be your own product or an established home-based business option, you need to think through what types of products you’d be comfortable presenting to your customers. Take the time to do some research and find a product that truly excites you. Your customers will see your sincerity and that can sell a product just as easily as a fancy presentation.

4. What skills and experience do you bring to the table?

If you’ve left the corporate world in favor of working at home, you’ve undoubtedly brought with you a set of skills. There may be a way to market those skills in a new way and turn them into a profitable business. For instance, if you were an executive assistant you may be able to type 80 words or more per minute. You could set up shop as a Virtual Assistant and help other business owners in processing orders, transcribing documents and much more.

5. Are you thinking outside of the box?

Most of us have a fear of the unknown. We many times assume that if we haven’t done something before it is simply out of reach. This carries over to the business world as well. We take our products or services and market them in the same way that we see other business owners using. However, it can be much more effective to find new and innovative ways to market. One home-based business owner I know sells stuffable toy kits. Instead of using the usual home parties and birthday party events, she works almost exclusively with children’s hospitals doing fundraisers. She makes a great living and helps not only the hospitals, but the children as well. She is a great example of unique marketing and overcoming the mundane marketing methods that so many business owners resign themselves to.

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Oct
19

Five Tips For Landing a Legitimate Work-at-Home Job

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According to the latest American Community Survey data, there are approximately 2.8 million people, not including the self employed or unpaid volunteers, who consider home their primary place of work. The struggling American economy has created the need for companies to cut back as much as possible. This has created growth in the work-at-home industry as it allows companies to save on expenses like office space, equipment and insurance costs.

However, the telecommuting world can be a hard place to get your foot in the door. Linda Dickerhoof, Public Relations Director at VIPDesk, one of the leading virtual concierge and virtual customer service providers in the United States, reports that they receive as many as two hundred resumes a day. With that kind of competition, it’s imperative that you stand out from the crowd. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when applying for telecommuting employment.

1. Do Your Research – This is, by far, the most crucial aspect of your work-at-home job search. There are many legitimate companies that hire at-home employees. However, in order to weed out at-home job scams, you need to know what “red flags” to look for.  A legitimate work-at-home opportunity won’t ask you for any sort of “affiliation fee,” nor will they send you any type of list of employers to contact.

A legitimate opportunity will also not offer an unrealistic salary. The ads that you see offering $5k/wk with no experience usually are just what they sound – too good to be true. Avoid work-at-home opportunities advertised via infomercials, signs taped to a lamp-post, stop signs or via spam e-mail. Always check with the Better Business Bureau to see what type of reputation the company you are considering has, then follow up with an Internet search to see what is being said about the company in blogs, on twitter, and in the mainstream media.

2. Resume Success  – Applying for a working-at-home position should be treated just like any other job application process. The company may allow you to work from home, but they will not tolerate an unprofessional attitude. In fact, it’s highly unlikely that your resume will be selected if it’s anything less than top-notch.

In order to get ahead, put together a professional resume outlining your job experience and highlighting any special skills or training applicable to the position you’re applying for. Keep your resume to one page, if possible.

3. Interviews Are Important – The interview process is more critical than usual in the work-at-home world because the interviewer will not be meeting you face to face. Most at-home employers have a strenuous screening process to filter out applicants who do not fit the professional standards required.

Prepare ahead of time for questions not only about your employment background, but also about what your home work environment will be like (they do not want to hear animals or children in the background). Interviewers will be listening intently to how you present yourself over the phone, so be as prepared and professional as possible.

4. Know What To Expect – One of the best ways to succeed in any career is to know what your employer expects of you. Before your interview, put together a list of questions that will help you understand what to expect from the employer, and what they expect from you. Ask about things like training, support offered during work hours, and specific job expectations.

5. Get Set Up – Once you’ve begun the process of searching and applying for telecommuting positions, it’s time to make sure your home workspace is appropriate. Most employers will be looking for you to have a noise-free home office that includes: a landline phone, a computer (most companies will have specific computer requirements that will need to be met),  and high speed internet.

If possible, do your research ahead of time to ensure that your home office set up will work for a telecommuting opportunity. There are some employers who provide the necessary equipment, but most will require you to have these items in place.

Telecommuting can be one of the most rewarding career decisions available today. It provides flexibility and scheduling that many other types of employment are unable to offer. Prepare yourself to stand out from the job applicant crowd and you’ll find yourself with a remarkable new job in no time.

 

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Oct
09

Organizing Your Home Office

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It can be a real challenge as a work at home parent to maintain an organized home office. Many times, the office or desktop is the last of our worries as we strive to raise our children, support our spouses and run our home-based business. However, keeping up with the clutter and chaos of your office may be just what you need to get you in a working mindset and help you to be more efficient while working.

There a few simple things that you can do on a regular basis that will help to de-stress organizing process:

 

  • Address your home office/desktop chaos in blocks of time. You may need to set aside just a few hours, or you may need an entire day. Decide what will work for you and stick to it. If it’s not possible for you to set aside a block of time, consider using a headset while you are on the phone and be de-cluttering, too!
  • Have the necessities on hand: a trash can, pen, file folders, mail baskets and other organization items that will enable you to sort, throw out and find a place for each item. Envision your goal and purchase the supplies necessary to create that environment.
  • Clear the space you want to organize (the desk surface, one of the drawers, etc.). Then make a pile of all the paper. Begin to evaluate each piece of paper, sorting it by importance. Throw out as much as possible and find a place for each of the other items.
  • If you start to feel stressed, take a break. Make a goal of how far you’d like to get during the time you have available and set an incentive for yourself if you reach your goal. It’s always easier to complete a task when you know you’ll be rewarded.

Once you’ve organized your office, it’s important to take small steps everyday to keep the room clean and tidy. It’s very easy to fall back into the routine of piling things on your desktop and around the room. There are five simple tasks that you can do daily to help maintain your organized space:

1. Clean out your “Inbox”. In today’s world this can apply to postal mail or email. Create a special basket for postal mail that needs to be taken care of right away, and another for items that can wait a day or two.

To keep your email inbox under control, create folders within your email program. Keep what needs to be done immediately in your inbox and distributed the rest into your folders. You can also use “rules” to help separate email and make it easier to manage.

2. Make sure all notes are transferred to your calendar, palm pilot or day planner. It is very easy to pile up a desktop full of paper by writing every note on a Post-it. You can also create an “Idea Book” to catalog all of your business ideas for future reference.

3. Remove all mail, catalogs & magazines from your desk. Put them in their proper place as you receive them. This will considerably cut down the amount of clutter on your desktop.

4. File as you go. This is the most basic and most important tip of all. If you file as you go your records will be in order, your desktop will be clear and you will feel like a professional.

5. Clean off your desktop each evening. There’s nothing better than sitting down at a clean workspace each morning. It helps to keep your mind focused on your business and makes finding important documents a snap.

By following these easy guidelines you will have a clean and organized home office in no time. Having a clutter-free workspace is the first step in creating an organized and professional home-based business.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jill Hart is the author of several books and the founder of Christian Work at Home Ministries, CWAHM.com.

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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.”

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