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Preparing to Work from Home

Preparing to Work from Home

Welcome to Tealmama!  In this post, I’m sharing how I prepared for my transition from a 9-5 finance analyst job to being a stay at home/work at home mom.

In a recent post Why I took the plunge and started working from home, I talked about my prior 9-5 job as a finance analyst.  Such a huge learning experience!  It started at a small aerospace company (when I say small, this is relatively speaking, it was still a multi-million dollar company).  Less than a year later, we were acquired by a major aerospace corporation ($80 billion + in annual revenues).

After the acquisition was complete, it felt as if we were going 100 miles an hour.  Change became the norm.  The first major change was a new director.  And with any new leader, you have to learn their leadership style and nuances.  Luckily he had a sense of humor and a lot of patience as we adjusted to new expectations.

Our time spent in meetings grew to what felt like an insane amount.  We joked about having meetings about meetings, but on a few occasions that actually happened! 🙂  Many of the additional meetings were status updates on new capital projects or product reviews.

Our new director would inquire about the expected completion date for a project milestone.  In the beginning, he would often get the response, “I am hoping to have it done by {insert date here}.”  His response, which quickly became a common phrase around our site, was “hope is not a plan.”  In a humorous, but also serious tone.  And that statement still sticks with me today – because it’s so true!

I’ve been wanting to find a way to work from home for several years.  So here’s how I turned hope into a plan, and eventually into action:

Set Personal & Business Objectives

My first objective as a mom was to stay at home with my 2-year-old son. I planned to work when he napped and in the evenings, which is not as easy as it sounds by the way!  I also wanted to be home when my daughter was done with school each day.  I wanted to be able to take her to more after-school activities.

In regards to earning income from home, I needed to define exactly what I would be doing.  (Even though every mother works at home — and it’s a job that has no end, but plenty of rewards!)  I knew with our choice to make my husband’s job a priority, a traditional 9-5 would not be the best option for our family.  But I still want to contribute financially.  We have retirement to save for and two kids to get through college! 

I chose three areas of concentration:

  1. Starting a blog.
  2. Partnering in a start-up e-commerce company with a very talented partner — details to follow closer to launch!
  3. Learning web design/development/copy-writing – this is my stretch goal and will take me a lot of time to learn 🙂

This list may seem a bit random, but each will help strengthen the others.

Assess Knowledge Gaps

Once I decided on the areas I wanted to focus on, I started making a list of what I needed to know to be successful.  I had a solid foundation of finance and business planning, but I needed to learn more in the following areas:

  • Quickbooks – I’ve used several large databases and accounting systems, but I needed to learn the ins and outs of QuickBooks to manage the finances of a small business. (There are other good options out there – this is the one I chose.)
  • Blogging – I needed to learn how to set up, launch, manage and promote a blog.
  • Web design/development/writing – these skills will take the longest, as they couldn’t be any farther out of my wheelhouse.  Requiring skills in design, Adobe Photoshop, coding (having no experience whatsoever!), SEO, and writing.

I found a great resource called udemy.com.  Here are a few courses I’ve taken that I have found super useful:

  • Mastering QuickBooks 2016 Made Easy Training Tutorial by TeachUcomp, Inc.
  • 100K Blog Blueprint: How to Become a 6-Figure Blogger by Daniel Boehm
  • Introduction to Google Tools by Jennifer Martilik (FREE!) 🙂
  • Web Hosting 101: Get Your Website Live on the Web in No Time by Brad Hussey (FREE!) 🙂
  • Build Websites from Scratch HTML and CSS by Brad Hussey
  • Ultimate Web Design and Developer Course by Brad Hussey (this has sections on WordPress and Adobe Photoshop)

I won’t list them all, but you should definitely check out udemy.com for yourself.  You can even find some great FREE courses.

Don’t forget about Google — it’s also a great resource to fill in the gaps.

Most importantly, I started following multiple bloggers and freelance professionals in the areas I was interested in.  I wanted to learn as much as I could.  Here are my top inspirations:

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner – Making Sense of Cents – “Fully self-employed online freelancer and  serial solopreneur.”  Michelle runs her blogging business while living in her RV full-time.  How cool is that?  She’s also a former finance analyst.  She made $70K+ in March 2016 alone.  If you are planning to start a blog, checking out her blog is a must.

Brad Hussey – bradhussey.ca – “Web designer, entrepreneur, coding instructor, all-Canadian.”  Brad has built a successful online freelance web design business and inspired others to do the same through freelance and web design courses.  If you are planning on learning web design/coding or starting a freelance career, I highly suggest you check out Brad’s website.

Develop a Personal Finance Forecast

In the finance analyst world, we didn’t just create budgets, we created forecasts.  Ten years out to be exact.  I decided to apply this forward-looking approach to my personal life.

I created an annual forecast for our personal expenses to understand our cash flow each month.  (I plan to provide an example in a future post – stay tuned!)  Each month is not the same for us, so it’s good to have an outlook of at least 12 months (car insurance every 6 months, quarterly 529/retirement savings, etc.).

Plus, I captured the past several months for history.  This gave us an idea of what we could cut down on to prepare for a potential decrease in income for a while.  We limited day-to-day spending, didn’t go on any major vacations and certainly didn’t buy anything major.  When you have money in the bank, it’s tempting to spend, but we needed to be careful!

Last but not least, when we moved to support my husband’s new territory, we purchased a modest house.  We were approved for more, but wanted to stay conservative for the big change we were about to make.

Create & Maintain an Action Item List

Another great piece of advice I received from my prior director is to always keep an action item list with due dates.

Mine is a very large list of goals/tasks categorized by personal items, blog actions, start-up business, continued education, and so on.  AND prioritized with set deadlines — highlighting the day’s focus areas.  It feels so good to check off the completed items!

Practice Positive Self Talk

This is super important.  Remember to stay positive and try not to compare yourself to others!  In my opinion, it’s the hardest thing to avoid when you are first starting out.

My daughter’s ballet teacher hung a sign for all her young students that said – “comparison is the thief of joy.”  It’s as true for a 6-year-old learning to dance as it is for a 32-year-old learning to blog.  We each have our own path.  It’s going to take time, no one is going to be perfect right out of the gate.  Celebrate your achievements and remember where you started.

AND as my mother told my sisters and I growing up — take it step-by-step and day-by-day.  It’s overwhelming to think about the long road ahead, but when you bite off small pieces at a time you’ll get there.

If you have been thinking of transitioning from a traditional job to working at home, start preparing now!  Outline your objectives, both personal and professional. Then do some research on what skills your missing.  Get your personal finances in order with a personal finance forecast (separate blog post coming soon!).  And start making your action item list of what you need to learn and what needs to be done to make it happen.  It doesn’t have to be anything fancy.  Use a blank notebook, Microsoft Word or digital planner.  Then start biting off the small pieces.

Turn hope into a plan and then into action!

In case you missed it, check out a related post Why I took the plunge and started working from home.

In the comments, please stop by to say hi and let me know where you are on your journey!

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