Today, I’m offering a guest post about being self-employed with young kids as part of the Ultimate Blog Swap. You’ll find me posting over at Slightly Cosmopolitan about letting your light shine brightly. Please welcome Hillary Boucher to My Super-Charged Life!
Do you dream about being self-employed, but feel that it’s impossible with a young family?
We knew from the get-go that we wanted to design our own lifestyle. We wanted to homeschool our kids and do work that we were passionate about.
We both wanted to share the responsibility of earning income and caregiving. We also wanted the freedom to travel to visit family and take educational field trips on our own timeline. We decided that self-employment would ultimately give us the control to create this lifestyle.
Self-Employed with Kids Is Tough But Worth It
The tough economy and the many new web tools available is resulting in people embarking on similar self-employment journeys. However, starting your own business with young kids is not as easy as crashing on your sister’s couch and eating Ramen noodles while you grind through the start-up phase. Kids need stability, good food and a stress-free place to live and grow.
We’ve got three kids and two businesses that are still in the early phases, but we’re well on our way to living our personal vision outside the 9-to-5 with kids in tow. It may be a bit unconventional, but it’s exciting, fulfilling and gives us the freedom we value.
Can you do it? Definitely!
Does it take careful planning? You bet.
Is it guaranteed? No way.
But it’s exciting and if you set yourself up for success you can be your own boss and have the added flexibility of self-employment to enjoy life along side your family.
Advice to Families for Breaking Free of 9-to-5
Looking back we weren’t nearly as prepared as we could have been so I’ll let you in on what we’ve learned so far.
1. Don’t Quit Your Job Yet!
Don’t quit your job and then make a plan. Instead, lay out your plan ahead of time. Create a one-year and a five-year plan and BE REALISTIC! Most businesses don’t cut a profit in the first year. Figure out how much you need to live on for the first year and double that. Take a local small business course and have a professional help you develop your business plan. Know how much you need to start bringing in at what point so you can be sure that you are going to make it.
While dreams are an important part of making this all happen, you’ve got to be realistic to get where you want to go.
2. Downsize Your Lifestyle
We bought an affordable, duplex in a downtown area of a mid-sized, vibrant city. The rental apartment pays for a good portion of our mortgage and since it’s small we have very low heating costs. While we do have to get creative about living with a family of five in a small apartment, it has afforded us flexibility as we start up our businesses.
In the first year of my husband’s business we sold our car to help with living expenses. Living downtown made this doable until we were able to buy a more affordable used car.
Take an honest look at your life and see what you can do without and what’s your deal breaker. For us quality food is a must. In fact, food is the biggest expense in our monthly budget, but that feels very important to us. We’re more than happy to share one cell phone and skip on the cable because we find wireless internet allows us to view entertainment when we want.
3. Get Money in the Door–Fast!
What’s your instant money maker? Focus on that first. You might have to do work that isn’t exactly what you envision for the future. That’s okay–get the money in the door, get your business established and after you lay the foundation you can start to move towards bigger and better projects and visions.
Priority number one is getting the bills paid and food on the table. Your savings is going to be dwindling fast and the sooner you can get money in the door the better.
Be smart about it though, make sure your money maker is a step in the right direction–towards a career and business you are enthusiastic about.
4. Implement a Strong Family Rhythm
It’s not fair to take your kids on a wild ride. Well, it is a part of life, but you can help them get through any transitions and potential family stress by anchoring yourself in a strong daily rhythm (this is different than a schedule). A rhythm moves with your family giving you the flexibility you need, while providing stability. This way–when life starts to get bumpy you have something to stand on.
5. Remember THE PLAN
Our plan towards self-employment and self-sufficiency was (and continues to be) a series of overlapping steps.
First my husband stuck with his “money maker” even though it’s not what he ultimately wants to do. While he brings in a steady income I’m setting up the launch of my business. As I begin to bring in more regular income the plan is for him to ease up and have more room to evolve his business into more of what he wants. Eventually we want to find a happy medium that’s flexible and secure. We want to use that flexibility of being self-employed to share the responsibility of bringing in income and taking care of the children.
Great plan, right? Well, there are plenty of ho-hum Tuesdays where we look at each other and say, “Why are we doing this?” Avoid letting the day-to-day stuff distract you from your bigger goals. Talk about where you are heading often. Make a visual map of where you are going and how you are getting there and put it somewhere you can see it everyday. Try to remember that this normal Tuesday is part of a bigger picture. Don’t get lost in the every day.
6. Enjoy the Journey
That being said–try not to be so focused on your goal that you forget to enjoy the journey. After all when you reach those five year goals your baby will be running around and talking and your toddler will be an entirely different kid. Don’t miss their childhood! Revel in the every day miracles of first steps, a lost tooth, and silly moments.
7. Get Support
Plug into a bigger support network like an online tribe or a local small business community. Having access to people who understand your challenges is very helpful. Even better–find local families who also live an unconventional lifestyle so you can swap childcare and have friends who share your new “normal”.
8. Take Time to Celebrate–Simply
We’ve been living the past few years as a start-up on a tight budget. Rather than skip out on the celebrations, we adjusted our style. My husband and I realized if we swapped childcare with friends for a few hours we could go out and have a drink and an appetizer for half the cost of a full dinner out and yet it felt just as decadent.
Celebrating is an important part of keeping your life joyful and happy. Kids don’t need fancy things to have fun–they want your time and attention.
We set aside a family night movie with Netflix and our favorite (affordable) Mexican take-out. We’ve learned to have fun with the simple things and to tell you the truth, I don’t feel like we’re missing anything.
Living outside of the 9 to 5 with a family in tow will take some careful planning, creativity and resolve, but if you desire this lifestyle it’s possible and rewarding.
Hillary blogs about entrepreneuring with school free kids, mindful family living and the New American Dream. If you enjoyed this article, you can check out another of her popular posts at If You’re Not Happy Here, You Won’t Be Happy There.
Also, you can visit Life…Your Way to see all of the Ultimate Blog Swap participants!
Photo: Copyright PhotoXpress.com