Women in Business: Working From Home
THERE is a new generation of stay at home mothers proving they can keep up with the world of business by starting their own business or taking on a franchise from home. The difference between women who go to work and women who work from home is they have the balancing act of two jobs at the same time. There is no dropping the kids to crèche and coming home to start work or having an hour’s peace driving to work. At home, work is completed while hanging out washing, cooking dinners and making beds. Work is completed during playtime where your two-year-old insists you swap roles; they are the mother while you must pretend to be a two year old and play, while trying to work. They walk around the house pretending to be on the phone while sweeping the floor. They say mimicking is the highest form of flattery. I’m not so sure.
Cold calls are made from the chilled aisle of the supermarket while the youngest is happy munching on a crusty roll or a half opened pack of cheese. This balancing act is all to make some commission, to give the stay-at-home mum some independence. To make her feel that life hasn’t left her behind just because she doesn’t follow the herd that make that early morning journey to work every day. The problem with balancing all this is it is supposed to be ‘part-time work’. But how can it be part-time? Any work is done early morning, afternoon, evening and late at night. Trying to fit writing a proposal into your day can take a whole day. The idea of staying home is to do the things you would pay someone to do if they were attending a crèche or a child-minder. Any outside employment comes last on your list. To profit in any way you must put in the hours; to make earnings feasible, it must be worth the balancing act. To fit the role around the family, hours must be stolen here and there each day, certainly not chosen.
Getting up two hours before the house even stirs is the only way to get your day started with a high productivity level and maintaining it at that level for the day. That is a daunting task in itself. Nothing can be planned with young children. Any day can involve a trip to the doctors or worse still, the A&E department. Endless trips to the kitchen for chocolate spread sandwiches for one and crackers for the other. It’s like a cafe with no menus. A cafe that never closes until bedtime. Working while the tune song from ‘Jake and the Neverland Pirates’ is playing so constantly that you find yourself humming it.
You need to meet a potential customer or employee. This is not done in the boardroom or your closed office. No, your office is the local coffee shop with three kids. The notion of meeting them in your house is not even entertained. Each of these encounters must be beneficial financially as it costs a fortune to sit your children at a different table with drinks and cakes while you try maintain some business creditability and ignore them while you massage the ego of this customer. Show them samples while you worry how quickly the cake runs out and the children are going to get bored and start calling you. Or worse, starting killing each other.
Taking a sales call in the middle of mayhem and you desperately need the sale. You find yourself running for cover so you can talk in a calm manner. You hide in the toilet or just keep walking so the kids can’t catch up with you. You try the ‘you’re dead‘ look if they don’t stop talking to you while you’re on the phone through gritted teeth your telling them “Just five minutes, just five minutes, please“. And why do kids decide to have a mental breakdown or start asking you questions as soon as you answer the phone? Stressful!
So who are these companies offering the stay-at-home mums complete financial freedom? The chance to be super Mum, with the potential to earn hundreds or maybe thousands on a monthly basis (according to recommendations from current mothers working from home). Facebook are among the newest companies to infiltrate the ‘work from home’ business. They are now advertising on Facebook – cheap marketing for them – for stay-at-home mothers to join their company. They provide the tools and software at a small cost of $1.95 for a ‘Home source for money kit’. Their caption to entice mothers to take on this role within their company “Finally an opportunity for mothers to work and have quality time with their children”. The job advertised is all working online. Then you have comments below the advertisement stating since they began working for Facebook they have earned $750-$1000 dollars a week.
The likes of the direct selling companies like Forever Living sell Aloe Vera products directly through sales people like stay at home mums. They are in Ireland 26 years and are currently actively looking for people through social media sites to sell their products directly. All you need is a computer, a car and the ability to talk to people. You are encouraged to build a team around you to profit while you sell their products.
A similar company, Stella & Dot, is an online fashion accessory and jewellery company. Selling their products is done through at home parties (what the Americans call a ‘trunk show’) thrown by you firstly then by a hostess who gains credits or free products from hosting a show in their own home. Again these positions are commission only with a bonus offered when you sell so much of their product and/or sign on other sales representatives. These roles are direct selling to family, friends, strangers in the queue in Tesco or anyone who will engage you in conversation willingly. They are all potential clients.
So is it now the trend for the stay-at-home mum to surf the social networks looking for opportunities to work from, and stay at, home? Is it the easy option or would it be easier to hand it over to the crèche or child-minder each day, go to work and deal with the consequences that evening of tired and emotional children and an even more tired and emotional mother? The guilt of peeling them from your leg at the crèche every morning at an ungodly hour leaving them crying daily: does that impact your work day? Or the guilt of trying to work around them at home? Honestly there is no wrong or right way to have a career as a mother. You do what needs to be done financially or just for your own sanity. It all boils down to children first; everything else must follow suit, take a ticket and wait in line.
Photos c/o pearsonlegal.co.uk, nydailynews.com, mageonline.com