Our audience is comprised mostly of professional moms, many of whom carry half or more of the financial responsibility for their families. Do you think your advice applies to them as well? Do you have specific suggestions for how a woman with children should go about leaving a regular job and starting her own business or becoming a freelancer?
I absolutely think this advice applies to professional breadwinning moms. I interviewed many self-employed moms for the book, many of them the main breadwinner in their family, all of them former wage slaves. All of them went into business for themselves so they’d have more time with family and could alleviate some of their child care costs. Many of them made big lifestyle choices to get the quality of life—and solo career—they wanted: from moving in with their parents for a year to save money to cutting back on takeout dinners, cable TV, and any other expenses they could forgo.
Of course, the more mouths you have to feed, and the more financial responsibilities you have, the more carefully you have to plan a career change. Not paying the bills is simply not an option. That’s why I say starting a business on the side is the way to go for hopeful mompreneurs, even if you have to cut back your paycheck-earning hours to get there. Hanging on to your paycheck while getting your writing or accounting or onesie-making business off the ground means you won’t wake up at 3 a.m. freaking out about the mortgage. And if you decide you don’t like your kitchen-table onesie enterprise, or if it flops, you still have a day job to fall back on.
What are the three things a woman should do before making the leap to becoming a freelancer?
1. Research the market and industry. Read the business section of your local newspaper as well as industry publications and sites. Join at least one professional networking organization and a couple of relevant listservs or web communities. Talk to independent professionals you admire (treating them to lunch will get your everywhere!) and glean as much advice as you can.
2. Get real with your finances. I alluded to this before, but it bears repeating. Know how much income you need to cover both your business and personal expenses. Talk to a financial planner if you have to. Be realistic about how much money you can bring in that first year, given the going rate for someone with your level of experience.
3. Have a Plan B. Your fallback plan can be several months’ living expenses in the bank, a spouse who’s willing to pick up the financial slack during your first year (if necessary), a lucrative bread-and-butter skill you know people will hire you to do, and/or an employer who tells you, “Any time you want your old job back, give me a call.” Once I wised up to the fact that credit cards were not a viable fallback, I started working with high-tech clients to ensure I’d always have food on the table. It may not be my first choice of work, but it helps finance some of my more creative (and less lucrative) projects.
To learn more about Michelle and her fabulous book, click here!