“Where in the world can I get a job where I can work from home?” I hear this question from women all the time. A recent survey was conducted on one of my Blackberry Messenger groups made up of wives, and the unanimous vote for Best Job for Married Women went to School Teacher. Reason- the hours enable them resume and close with their kids, and they got their holidays together too!
But many women can’t stand teaching, and are very accomplished and find their joy in other occupations, so what can they do to earn a living while still caring for their children? Well, from the same poll, the second best “job” was working from home. Here are some things you can do from your house.
Own your business: This is the hardest, so let’s face it first. You have to have your business in mind, and map out how to make the business work and grow. Then you have to get the idea to reality; so not easy. But it does give you flexible hours. Plus, within the past few years the government and other bodies have become very excited about supporting female business owners, so don’t fear. Create your business plan as you start small, and send it in to organisations offering grants and interest free loans.
Freelance Writing: I tell you, this is a seriously untapped area for women. The reason they don’t go into this business; they can’t just sit down to write (but they just love to talk). But you see, people want to learn so many things, and you might have spent 2-6 years in a higher institution, or even at home, learning something they would love to read about. I still remember all the home and garden magazines I used to see when I was younger, and I wondered, “What do these people want to put in a magazine about houses and gardens that EVERYBODY doesn’t know? Don’t we live in houses, and who needs gardens?” But now I am older and wiser, and Google is one of my best friends. You can even write a cookbook, a motivational book, own a blog, whatever you want. You can write marketing material for businesses that are into the course you studied in school; banking, architecture, medicine, sociology, psychology, and even teaching. This is called copywriting. Why not Google it?
Training programmes at home: Bead making, soap making, cooking and baking, the list goes on. SMEs spring up daily, most of them starting from homes, and even those starting small need to learn the ropes. Acquire knowledge on an area you are interested in and start teaching others for a fee!
Network marketing: Oh! Did I say owning your own business was the hardest? Sorry, this is. You face the worrying, the struggling to hit interesting targets, the fight to sell the products. But quite a few women swear by it. And it doesn’t hurt to have an extra income stream, but please conduct a very detailed research before tossing your thousands of naira into the hat.
Now don’t get all excited yet; all these jobs above have very basic requirements:
1. Self- starter: No one is going to supervise you; you have to be diligent for and by yourself. Working for others you might have targets and deadlines, but working for yourself you have to make these deadlines and meet them. It is not easy, but you must learn discipline.
2. Ability to learn quickly: Bead making trainers learn the latest designs faster than you can sneeze, and for every new design they get, they up their prices. You snooze on new info, you lose, sister.
3. Good Customer Care Skills: You will grow and have staff under you, but when you start, you are the front man of the business. Two women can own shops and sell exactly the same thing at the same price, but people will patronise the one who is friendlier, even if she never gives freebies. It has been tried and tested. So practice smiling and saying ‘hi’ to your reflection in the mirror, until it comes naturally to you.
4. Marketing and Sales: Business owner, freelancer, trainer or Networker; you need to know how to market yourself and your product or service, and how to make and close the sale. Buy the books, attend the seminars, or watch pros at work. Whichever way you learn it, just learn it.
5. Time Management: You are doing this so that you can give your family more quality time; do not lose sight of the goal. So manage your time properly. Many parents have learnt the power of the pool. They share with other parents the responsibility of picking and dropping children at school, and organising group activities so some of them can supervise the children while others run business errands.
6. Delegation: Train and delegate, do not be afraid to train your workers. The large companies would never have grown if the management did not make room for expansion. So employ and train juniors when the time comes. Get a bigger office when the need arises. Do not be afraid to grow.
In all this, remember to rest. Too many women do not know (or remember) how to rest. No rest means stress, and stress is an innocent-sounding killer disease. Find the balance in your work, home and childcare that assures you the best of both worlds.