3 Technologies That Help Stay-At-Home Moms Build an Online Business

By Linsey Knerl on 24 November 2009 (Updated 1 March 2010) 7 comments

Don’t Slack, Track!

Ask any Work-at-Home Mom what her biggest challenge is, and she’ll almost always answer, “I need more time!” While there will always only be 24 hours in any given day, understanding where it all goes to is step #1 in creating efficiency and improving profitability. Today’s best tools for tracking time are free.  My favorite is the popular Toggl.com. Toggl is as simple as it gets, giving users a free basic membership and an entirely web-based solution. (Working between a PC, laptop, and an iPhone? No problem. Just log in from anywhere to start tracking those minutes!) Since tracking time is as simple as pushing a red button, you can make sure you get credit for every second that you are engaged in your business, making billing clients an easy task again.

Moms who check their client emails from the waiting room of their child’s dentist have no reason not to get credit for their time. (And you can finally explain to your kids that you have NOT been working all day, but rather 5 hours, 30 minutes, and 27 seconds.) Conversely, time tracking tools can help with Moms who have boundary problems, giving them the satisfaction they need when putting in a hard day’s work, and giving them the freedom to leave work at the end of a day to cuddle with kiddos and spend precious time with their spouse.

Communication Can Be a One-Way Street

I pride myself on being accessible to my clients but understand that sometimes, communication should not go both ways. With several young children in the home, it becomes necessary to control communication to present the message you really want to send, and technology is the key to making it all happen. While Moms have traditionally limited themselves to “shooshing” kids during important calls and hiding in the laundry room for new client interviews, there are better ways to get the job done.

For the mom who never seems to have a good time to chat, email is indispensable. Not only can you have a few moments to proofread your responses, you can be sure that your conversations will not carry a hint of whatever kind of day your kids are having. With clever tools like GoToMeeting.com, you can attend presentations via the web, and not have to utter a word during the exchange. Chat functions allow you to raise your hand, ask questions, and provide valuable feedback during the event, regardless of how many you have sitting on your lap at the time. GreenYourDecor.com’s Jennae Peterson adores this particular one-way communication tool. “Being able to attend a web seminar while I'm cooking or combing my daughter's hair is invaluable and it allows me to get more out of my time.”

Skype is another precious tool for letting your voice (and your voice, alone) be heard. With many useful options for keeping communication clear from any room in your home, it’s possible to take your laptop with you and out of the range of blaring TV’s and Tonka Trucks. In instances where advanced planning will serve you best, you can always record a quick video presentation via a Flip Video Camera and send it to your client at their convenience. (This lets the client really get to know you, and it can help display your willingness to work with different kinds of media.)

Always Take Your Business With You

While I can’t argue with the need for keeping business and personal separate, there are certain definite benefits to keeping your most precious business tools with you at all times. In addition to having an ample supply of custom-made business cards stashed in your diaper bag or purse, Moms with an online business should consider a mobile device equipped to help them complete daily tasks from anywhere. “My phone has saved my business tremendously. It's like I can be in several different places at one time,” insists Melissa Garcia of the popular ConsumerQueen.com. “I never have to worry about missing important messages from important clients. I also don't have to worry about turning down awesome opportunities due to being unavailable.” Melissa also admits that it has helped her keep her family life in check, “It has helped me stay connected to friends, organize my kids’ busy schedule and allow me to post hotel deals to my community in real time! I don't know what I would do without my phone now!”

Additional photo credits: Linsey Knerl, Skype Press Center
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Guest's picture

Skype is really an awesome tool for those who are involved in internet work at home business. I had to be online on Skype almost whole day, just to discuss about the business with the clients.

Guest's picture

I love Skype I actually use it more than my phone! I desperately need a blackberry though.

Guest's picture
Guest

One of my good friends is a great mother. She does more for her three kids than most people could conceive of. I would trust her with my own son, and that is saying something. But her husband works a lot of hours and after four years of being a stay-at-home mother, she was starting to get a little buggy, for lack of a better word. She was craving the interaction of adults in her life, far more than occasionally logging onto Facebook.
She decided that she wanted a job. But she did not want a job that required leaving a care giver to take care of her children. She would not compromise on that, yet she felt without the ability to spend time with adults, she was going to have problems. Her training after high school was beauty school. She was great at cutting hair, doing nails, using make-up, and things of that sort. In fact, two of her female friends had asked her be the person to apply their make-up when they married.
So her husband, being the good guy that he is, put his mind to it and came up with the answer for her. Because of his encouragement, she became an independent beauty consultant. This had several great benefits for her. Her training was in this field to start with, and it was something she was quite good at. Secondly, she got adult interaction with other women who had similar interests. Sometimes the women would come to her house, sometimes she would go to theirs. In many instances, she was able to even kill two birds with one stone. Many of the women also had children close to her childrens’ ages. So the business appointment also doubled as a play date for the children.
It was a very refreshing change of pace for her, and she truly began to thrive. She didn’t have to leave her children in someone else’s care, and yet she was earning more income for the family and doing something she absolutely loved. She also got to make her own hours. Most importantly, she was getting the adult interaction she needed for her own sanity.
She has now been an independent>independent beauty consultant for two years. She told me she lives in the best of all possible worlds, and I have rarely known someone so contented with their life. Its amazing how sometimes one simple little change can help a person go from some having fundamental dissatisfaction with their life, to thinking their life is one they would never trade.

Guest's picture

great info though I am using Oovoo.. a free video conferencing site..

Linsey Knerl's picture

I've heard good things, but haven't tried it.  Thanks for the tip!

Linsey Knerl

Guest's picture

I just love Skype. One of my businesses survives on it and those people who haven't used it don't know just what it can do for your business.

Guest's picture
Allison

I loved this article, so helpful! I'm looking for any tips that can help me manage my crazy day to day life. If any other readers are looking for some similar blogs I would recommend checking out this one http://blog.greensherpa.com/index.php/personal-finance/pitfalls-of-perso... It's written by a COO/mother that is facing challenges in balancing her work-family life just like the rest of us.