By Margaret Steen, for Yahoo! HotJobs
For mothers who want to both work and spend time with their kids, starting a home-based business is a popular option.
A Harris survey found that 57 percent of women either have started their own business or have thought about doing so. The main reasons: to do work they are passionate about, and to have more flexibility.
Seizing New Opportunities
Patricia Cobe said her unscientific estimate is that there are about 10 million "mompreneurs" -- a term she and Ellen Parlapiano coined to describe mothers who run home businesses. They are co-authors of Mompreneurs: A Mother's Practical Step-by-Step Guide to Work-at-Home Success.
Some women offer services similar to what they did in their corporate work, as a marketing consultant, for example. Others design and sell products that are unrelated to their previous work, though their corporate experience often helps them run the business.
"In many cases, these women are looking for products or services they can't find," says Sharon Hadary, executive director of the Center for Women's Business Research. This can lead to a business selling better diaper bags or healthy baby food, for example.
So what does it take to escape the corporate world and start your own home-based business? Experts offer these tips:
Make a Plan and a Commitment
Consider what your product will be, how it will be different from others on the market and who will buy it.
"You need to really have an understanding and a passion for what you're doing," says Carolyn Kepcher, CEO of Carolyn & Co. Media, who is also known for her previous role on The Apprentice.
Make sure your plan includes setting aside time to work. "Try not to get distracted by your mother-in-law calling," Cobe adds.
It's important to start with a plan, but it's equally important to be able to change it when necessary.
"You are going to make mistakes. The important thing is to learn from them," says Kepcher, who also cofounded the site Findingwhatmatters.com that focuses on work-life balance and career success.
Keep an Eye on Your Finances
Some kinds of businesses can be started with very little money invested, but others require tens of thousands of dollars. And it could take some time before you are making a significant contribution to the household income.
"Try to contribute what you can afford personally from the beginning," Kepcher says. "When you start using your credit cards and your mortgage payments, it's not a good idea."
Be Realistic About Childcare
For many mothers, the main attraction of working from home is being available for their kids. And running a home-based business does mean you can chaperone a school field trip without having to check with your boss.
But "being home-based is not a substitute for childcare," Hadary says. You may not need a nanny or full-time day care, but you do need some time when you can make phone calls or meet with clients without being interrupted by a toddler.
Market Your Business
The only way people will know about your product is if you tell them.
"You have to really learn how to market yourself," Cobe says. This includes making cold calls, writing introductory emails -- and learning to bounce back from rejection.
Your business also needs an online presence. Kepcher adds, "Can you name one good company right now that doesn't have a Web site?"
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