Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Time Flies when you're a stay-at-home parent

Recently, I wrote a short piece for the Etsy Success Newsletter. Unfortunately, due to space restrictions, most of what I wrote was cut. So, I decided to post the full article I wrote here.

You can see the Etsy version here: http://campaign.constantcontact.com/render?v=001mChcnPHJmGtyDoAc_Idue8nZB1ncVCZ_dqCgIIyYksLsGRYgZFU4pClcbEWvYEtlEMZf2kfexs3UbqHmFu2jKzTqMXFw7KMloypToG-vBtc%3D

And here's the full article:
Being a stay-at-home parent is a 24/7 task. So how does one fit an online business, full-time or even part-time into the mix? As the mother of two small children, a 2 ½ year old and a 7 month old, I admit it is a challenge. And it was quite an adjustment. The first question I encounter when I tell someone about my home based business is “How do you have the time to do that?” The answer is that my business is important to me, so I find the time.

Here are some quick and dirty tips for the stay-at-home parent:
1) Take some time in the morning to decide what you want to accomplish for the day. Be realistic about what you want to do.

Every morning I make a list of things I want to accomplish for the day. I separate these items in order of urgency and importance. Those items which are both urgent and important are first. Next comes items that are urgent but not important and items and are important but not urgent. Last come the items that are neither important nor urgent. Being realistic about how much time I might have and how much I can get done in that time period is crucial.
An example:
Urgent and Important
The custom order that must ship this week.

Urgent and Not Important

Important but not Urgent
Email - business
The items I need to make to stock my shop

Not Urgent or Important
Email - personal

That’s right…I’ve deemed housework as NOT IMPORTANT. See #4, which is an important part of being able to put housework in the not important category. This is relative, there are some days where housework IS an urgent and important thing.

2) Utilize nap time to the fullest extent.

When nap-time comes, immediately tackle your high-priority items. Don’t have nap time? (I rarely do) Have a special activity time where your children can create along side of you. No matter how old your child is, there is a way to actively engage them, even for short periods of time, in activities that are creative and fun for them. This will allow you to work, even in short bursts.

3) If you have a partner, encourage them to be on board with your business plan.

When your partner/spouse is supportive of your business, you can utilize some time at night and on the weekends without having it interfere with family time. In my house it becomes a special daddy/kid time that they get with me on a daily basis. Also, when my husband comes home from work, we eat dinner and then he takes the kids for at least one hour. This gives me the opportunity to do whatever I want to do. It could be that I just need a break or that I would like to check email, or that I have to package some items. I utilize this time to the fullest.

4) Create a realistic time line for custom orders in your shop.

For many Etsy shop owners the items they have in their shops are already created. In cases like these, it’s about finding the time to make more items to have a well stocked shop and packaging of sold items. There is another type of shop, like mine, that specializes in made-to-order items. I would love to get a custom order, go sew/paint/create the item and ship it the next day. But for me, this is simply not an option. So my turn around times reflect an accurate and generous amount of time for me to create my items. This does NOT hurt business. It sets expectations for clients and they can be confident that I will complete the item in the time (or sooner) that I allowed to make it. Quoting faster shipping times doesn’t help your shop if you can’t meet your deadlines.

5) Utilize the resources available to you.

Carrier pick up the best example of this. I only go to the post office if I have an international package. All other packages are picked up from my front door by USPS. This saves me time and money. Printing postage via Paypal or USPS click-n-ship makes this possible. This is just one of the resources available to me that make my work easier. Try to use all of your resources, it will save you time and money!