More and more new mothers are looking for ways to have it all: fun, family time during those all-important early years, and an income. For some, launching a home-based business is the answer.
Jane Enright, a self-employed employment strategist and owner of Enright Consulting in Dundas, Ont., reveals some questions you should ask yourself before taking the plunge.
Is self-employment right for you?
Working for yourself means no regular paycheque, no one to pick up the slack if you wake up one morning with the flu, no paid holidays and no benefits. It's your money on the line -- win or lose.
Do you have a business concept?
What's the market for your product or service? What would startup and operating costs be? Will you need employees? Insurance? Transportation? Legal advice? Do your research. The library is a vast resource, as is the Internet. Be sure to contact business or professional associations related to your venture and grill people who are already running their own businesses.
Are you eligible for government assistance?
Just months after giving birth to baby Ben, Jenn Merriam signed up for a self-employment assistance program funded by Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC). While Ben stayed with her parents, she spent two weeks learning about marketing, pricing, market research and customer service. Now Jenn runs her custom stamp company around his schedule: while he's napping, she's taking care of business.
"Most people don't know about all the programs out there that can help them decide whether or not running a business is really for them and how to be successful if they go this route," Enright says. Your local member of Parliament or any employment resource centre can point you in the right direction.
As well, contact the small-business association in your area, your local chamber of commerce and the Business Improvement Association. Talk to women you know who've started their own businesses or join women's networks such as womenwhoexcel.com.
Page 1 of 2 -- Find out if you have the support system to start a home-based business on page 2Do you have a support system?
"The first year was brutal," admits Jenn. "Answering the phone was impossible if the baby was crying. I let the answering machine take a message and I'd return it as soon as Ben went to sleep or when my husband came home." Get help when you need it and educate your family about the help you'll need from them.
Can you handle the income change?
All new entrepreneurs should also be prepared for a drop in income. Family incomes for the self-employed tend to be lower than the family incomes of employees. However, it can cost more money to work outside the home, once you factor in increased day-care costs, transportation, clothing and other expenses.
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Despite the ups and downs, Jenn likes being a business owner. "I am really proud that I'm able to balance running a business and raising a bright, happy child."