Avoid Credit Card Financing

A recent study found that credit card usage to keep small businesses, including home-based businesses, afloat can be deadly to their well-being. “A recent study by Robert Scott of Monmouth University found that every $1,000 increase in credit-card debt increases the probability a firm will close by 2.2 percent,” Alan Zell posted in SCORE’s online Listserv, as quoted in a Herald-Tribune story about credit-card financing.

“Credit cards are more prevalent for funding start-up businesses because traditional sources of financing have become less available during the Great Recession and financial meltdown,” the article says.

Instead of using credit cards for your at-home business, consider saving money before expanding, cutting expenses to the bare bones and growing your business slowly. I offer more ideas on how to finance your home-based business in my book, Hired @ Home.

Until next time,


Juggling Act

Most women wear many hats, including work and mommy. I’ll be doing a presentation on “How To Juggle Work With Family Life” during the Mommy In Training conference on Saturday, April 24, in Alexandria, Va. The conference is chock-full of helpful seminars on being a mother, so if you’re in the area, please stop by.

For more information, visit the conference Web site.

Until next time,


Spring Into Spring

With the flowers starting to bloom and the winds bringing warmer breezes, it finally feels as though spring has come to Virginia. With spring, my thoughts turn to spring cleaning both my house and my freelance writing/editing business.

To spring clean your at-home business, set aside a few hours to go through your file folders and toss or shred old paperwork. Clean out your email inbox and take a look at what electronic documents can be deleted. Make sure your computer’s antivirus software is up-to-date. Jot down a list of things that might need replacing, fixing or upgrading in the near future.

Consider ordering new business cards or adding something to your Web site. Develop a spring marketing campaign. Review your potential client lists and start devising ways to reach those customers.

These are just a few ways to spruce up your business.

Until next time,


Married Women Leave Home to Work

Today’s Washington Post had an article on the front page of the Metro section entitled “More Moms Entering Workforce.” The article talked about the recession forcing more married woman who had been staying at home with their children to find work outside the home.

The number of stay-at-home moms has dropped from 5.3 million in 2007 to 5.1 million in 2009, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Some analysts point to the gender gap in the unemployment rate as part of the reason women are leaving home for the workforce. The unemployment rate for men is 10 percent, while it’s only 7.9 percent for women.

For women who need to assist in paying household bills and do not want to work outside the home, starting a home-based business or working with an employer to work from home either most or all of the time can make sense.

Until next time,


Census Bureau Reports Home-Based Workers to Reached 11 Million in 2005

The following is a press release dated Jan. 25, 2010, from the U.S. Census Bureau about the rising number of people who worked from home.

The number of people who worked at home increased by nearly 2 million, from about 9.5 million in 1999 to about 11.3 million in 2005, according to new data released by the U.S. Census Bureau. Nearly half of these home workers had college degrees and nearly half of them earned $75,000 a year or more.

These figures come from Home-Based Workers in the United States: 1999-2005, a series of tables that describe the type of employment, occupations and characteristics of home-based workers in the United States. The tables examine the total workforce and compare those who work at home with those who do not. The data are produced from a supplement to the Survey of Income and Program Participation.

An examination of the data shows an increasing percentage of the workforce is spending at least some time working from home,” said Alison Fields, chief of the Census Bureau’s Journey to Work and Migration Statistics Branch. “This survey provides a better picture of the attributes of these people, as well as which professions and occupations allow them to work at home.”

Home-based workers made up 8 percent of the total U.S. workforce in 2005, an increase from 7 percent in 1999. Among those who worked at home in 2005, about 8.1 million did so exclusively, an increase from 6.7 million in 1999.

Examining those who worked at home in 2005 by industry, the largest percentage worked in professional and related services (32 percent), followed by business and repair services (12 percent) and finance, insurance and real estate (10 percent).

The most popular occupations among those who reported working at home were professional (25 percent), executive, administrative and managerial (22 percent) and sales (18 percent).

The median monthly earnings of workers who worked at home were about $2,400 in 2005; the median annual family income for these workers was approximately $68,000.

High-paying jobs were more likely to involve working at home for some or all of the work time. In 2005, 46 percent of people who said they worked at home some or all of the time earned at least $75,000 per year, compared with 34 percent of non-home workers who made at least that much. Those who worked both at home and in an office had the highest percentage of high-paying jobs — about 54 percent of whom made $75,000 or more annually in 2005.

Along with more money came longer hours. About 11 percent of those who worked at home for some or all of their workweek reported working 11 or more hours in a typical day in 2005. Only about 7 percent of workers who worked outside the home reported doing so.

Despite the long hours, there seemed to be more flexibility for people who worked at home. In 2005, about 23 percent of home-based workers reported their weekly work hours varied, compared with only 10 percent of those who worked outside the home.

Characteristics of home-based workers:

•In 2005, about 51 percent were female.
•About 4 percent were age 15-24; nearly 18 percent were 25-34; 26 percent were 35-44; 26 percent were 45-54; 18 percent were 55-64 and nearly 9 percent were 65 and older.
•White non-Hispanics made up about 82 percent of this workforce; blacks represented about 6 percent, Asians nearly 4 percent, and all other races about 3 percent. Hispanics, who could be of any race, made up about 6 percent.
•About 47 percent of those who worked at home had at least a bachelor’s degree; almost 32 percent had at least some college; about 17 percent had a high school diploma; and about 5 percent had less than a high school diploma.

New Year, Clean Slate

I love the beginning of a new year, as the days spread out before you like a crisp, new page just waiting for you to carefully write your ideas upon. A new year holds such promise, so many opportunities.

But sometimes it can be tough to look forward to a new year when the old one didn’t live up to our expectations. Maybe your home-based business struggled over the last year with the tough economy.

Take a moment to look at 2010 and just let your imagination go wild with dreams of all you would like to accomplish. Then take a deep breath, jot down those dreams and see what you can do to make them come true. For some, it will mean stepping out of your comfort zone. For others, it will mean believing in yourself that you can do it.

Now you might have to scale back the dream. Not all of us can be rock stars, after all. But with hard work and a realistic outlook, maybe 2010 will be the year you realize your dream.

Until next time,


Asking Customers What They Want

One of the biggest challenges to small-business owners, including home-based businesses, is finding out what your customers want. A recent article in USA Today gives some good tips on how to do this.

In a nutshell, simply ask your customers on a one-on-one chat what they like and don’t like about your buiness. Give customers questionnaires to fill out and offer a freebie of some sort as an incentive. Also, hiring a telemarketing company or your teenager’s friends to call a sampling of your customers for feedback on your company.

I’ll tackle this topic more in-depth in an upcoming At Home News issue. Don’t forget you can sign up to receive this free, monthly e-newsletter by clicking on the newsletter tab.

Until next time,


Work From Home Numbers Grow

Yet another article about the growing number of people who are working from home, this time in the Wall Street Journal: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703819904574555710881471416.html.

The article tackles more at-home employment rather than home-based businesses. Kind of interesting the amount of telephone-answering type work there is out there, as well as medical-field work.

As always, be extra careful of scams, which are proliferating like bunnies. Ignore any email, ad, Internet site or phone calls that ask for money or personal information in order to receive job information or employment.

It looks like more and more companies will be exploring at-home employment options, so sharpen those skills and keep your eyes and ears open.

For more tips, check out my July 2009 At Home News that explores how to become a contract worker.

Until next time,