Tips and Business Ideas for Women Working from Home
Business ideas for women working from home have never been more important. Side-hustle, remote, Zoom, Trello and Skype–they are all part of the new tools as we pivot in the current environment. On the bright side, employees who work from home are 87% more likely to love their jobs. Do you have business ideas for women to enjoy the freedom of becoming THEIR OWN boss? Self-employment and working from home have been my life for over 25 years.
While I would hardly call myself an expert, I do have lots of experience. I thought I would share some of the useful tips and business ideas for women working from home I’ve learned over the years. With a home based business, these strategies have been fine tuned to keep me focused and on the path to success. Most, if not all can be applied to working remotely and staying productive, an environment currently on the minds of many as we settle into our new normal.
If you know me personally, you know I excel at walking around in circles and wasting time. Miles of steps taken around my living space have been recorded on my Fitbit. I have diagnosed ADHD which further enhances the challenge of being my own boss. Coming up with new business ideas for women and reinventing myself is my Super Power; follow through however, is not my forte. With a concerted effort, I’ve developed strategies that will work for various business ideas for women. Each can be adapted for the unique situation of your own workplace environment.
My Experience and Small Business Ideas for Women
When I look back over the years, my work at home experience has run the gamut from part time telecommuting, to moving my whole office with 3 employees into my house. My kids were infants when I began. Child care went through the spectrum of live in nannies, baby sitters and outside day care. Ten years into the wholesale clothing business I co-founded, I found myself selling product to every major department store in the country–and–shipping it out of the back of my house.
After selling the company, I moved on to renovating houses in sustainable shades of green and my journey into the world of Eco-living began in earnest. At the same time I was consulting with small artisan businesses and destinations about transitioning into the world of online content, work which continues today.
Currently, you can find me traveling the globe (either IRL or from my computer) and sharing my experiences across Green With Renvy’s online platforms or freelance writing for other digital outlets. My 25 year old self could never have imagined the circuitous route I would take to my present day life of travel and baby boomer adventures.
Today, under the current circumstances of COVID-19, I’m a short-lived empty nester with a boomerang young adult daughter and a husband all working out of the same two-bedroom apartment. We downsized recently, and while the only thing I usually miss about my former Victorian is the fireplace, current conditions were not something we anticipated or could have ever imagined. A home-based business has taken on new meaning!
The Early Years of Working from Home
I first began working from home in the early 90’s. At the time, I was a textile designer and COO of a company I co-established in 1978. Opportunity knocked when I was able to move our Boston office into my home. My husband and I had purchased a “grand” (falling down) Victorian with lots of space. For years, I coped with having three employees in my house all week and young kids coming home from school at 3pm.
It was a balancing act that challenged me each and every day. It also made it difficult to leave the office and have a normal weekend. Self-care wasn’t a topic of conversation then. Many women with home-based income ideas felt lucky to have an outlet for their passion; they could combine their own business with “being there” for their kids. Many women, including myself, fell into the syndrome of having it all and the all took over our lives leaving little time for any kind of attention we might offer ourselves. Burnout and a sense of failure was a pretty common thread that ran through the lives of female entrepreneurs in the late 80’s and 90’s. The struggle was very real.
Times change, kids get older and when I eventually sold the business, it was a relief to have the house back to myself (and my family). I’ve remained entrepreneurial and self-employed ever since. When I decided to start Green With Renvy, I brought my work at home skills with me and now say I have the best job in the world. In this chapter, I really do feel like I have it all.
I think you’d agree that my small business ideas and experience for women qualifies for just about all spectrums of the WFH (work from home) scale. Income generating ideas for both women and men come in so many different shapes and sizes. You might have an online store, an event planning service, or perhaps create courses and act as a life coach. Each has their own challenges. With a bit of tweaking, our family has made the different paths all work successfully.
Throughout the years, there were a few constants and additions contributing to my productivity and success with a small business. These are the tips and ideas constantly running through and being honed across my various small business services. Over these many years I’ve developed techniques and hacks that have been modified and reworked to create success.
Start Your Home Based Business Day
Three Pillars of Support
I have three things I do religiously every work morning. It helps to set the tone for my day.
- Make your bed every morning. It might not seem like a big deal, but it starts the day off on the right foot. Your bedroom will look tidy and neat. There is something very Zen about coming into a tidy bedroom at night (even if it only takes a few steps). A made bed is less tempting for a nap when your energy starts to wane. When you retreat in the evening, your bed will be a joy to come “home”to.
- Drink water first thing in the morning. Shuffle off to the kitchen and make a cup of warm water (and lemon for me). This immediate hydration for your system is a much better way to wake up your body than diving into caffeine and your favorite Neopresso cup of coffee. Water is involved in all aspects of wellness and a healthy system. This includes carrying nutrients and oxygen to cells, regulating body temperature, lubricating joints, and protecting your organs and tissues. I find it instantly makes me feel more awake and helps with digestion.
- Get dressed and come to work every morning like you mean it. Take off your slippers and wear a pair of indoor shoes. One of my favorites is this pair of Easy Spirits. They’re sparkly, comfortable and make me feel dressed even when leggings and a t-shirt are the order of the day. Psychologically it makes a difference in my head space. The act also makes a weekend of lounging around in pajamas and slippers feel that much more luxurious and special. And yes, I will admit that during the last 2 months, getting dressed has not always been the case. Extraordinary times call for exceptions to every routine.
Make a Work Space your Own
Traveling to an outside office allows for a clear separation of work and home. The division is physical. When you work at home, that distinction can get very blurry. Not many of us have the luxury of having a completely different space for working remotely. This is especially true if working from home was recently and unexpectedly dropped into your lap.
Your new workspace doesn’t have to be its own room, but you should be able to make it feel separate, even if it’s only temporary during each day. Try to make your workspace comfortable with a chair you can sit in for an extended period of time (a memeory foam pillow has become BFF’s with my daughter’s backside). If possible, natural light is a great addition to the space. With three of us working in our apartment, we’ve found rotating spaces during different times of the day is refreshing to our productivity.
Entering your workspace will help you turn “on” at the beginning of the day and get down to work. On the flipside, leaving or packing up your tools will also help you turn “off” at the end of the day and fully disengage. If you let your laptop creep into your downtime space, it makes it harder to keep your work separate from your home life.
If you’re working at a table integral to your household, perhaps the kitchen counter, pack up your materials each evening to make the end of your day decisive. Close all the tabs and programs related to your job when you are done for the day. Many of us are streaming entertainment on laptops; removing work from your desktop will keep your mind from wandering about what you have to do tomorrow. The key here is to do whatever you need to do to disengage and put your work to bed for the day.
One of the best benefits of being your own boss is the option of working remotely. Wifi and an organized laptop can be used just about anywhere in the world. Earlier this year we spent three months away from home in Florida. My husband and I knew we had work that would need to be accomplished during this time.
The rental apartment had distractingly beautiful views and a dining room table for one of us to set up shop. From experience, we both know we’d get more accomplished if we worked in separate rooms. Conference calls, video chats and photography are just more productive if you have some quiet space. Efficiency translates into more time for fun in the sun!
We tried to make do the first week but found our productivity not what we were hoping for. Week two, I headed out on a mission of temporary desk and chair. One inexpensive folding table and folding chair later, we both had a successful workspace. With two self-employed family members who often get compensated by the hour, the expense paid for itself the first day.
Do Your Work First
Years of experience have taught me I’m most productive early in the morning and later in the evening. I incorporate this truth into my workday. I sit down to get started right away with a cup of coffee. My reward for a good two hours of productive work is to move on to social media. Long known as a gigantic hole of a time suck–social media is a big part of my job as a travel influencer.
I find that it feels more like work if I don’t get into it first thing. I also have made a daily to-do list that varies according to the days of the week. Yes, it still qualifies as a project, but it comes easier than the writing, so if I get the tough assignments out of the way, I can breeze through the posting on social more quickly without wandering off.
Turn off notifications and check and attend to email twice a day. Previously, I fell into the trap of checking up on events and reading various articles in the morning before I started working. The initial distractions meant it was harder to get into the flow of work, as my mind roamed a lot more to other subjects I had read about
Lists are my friend and I love the feeling of checking off a day’s accomplishments. Slowly, I have transitioned to an online app, but honestly, it was a challenge. Use whatever method works for you. If you try something and it doesn’t feel like it’s working, scrap the method and give another a try. There are a shocking number of time management tools available in the APP store. Once you get in the groove, you’ll find yourself left with more personal time to get ME things accomplished.
Most Important Business Idea–A Productivity Strategy
If you take away one strategy from this post, I hope this is the one. I found the Pomodoro Method several years ago and it turned my productivity around. The method requires you to work on one task at a time in 25-minute bursts. The key is to remove all distractions for this period (distracting tabs, social media, your phone, etc.), then break for five minutes before starting again. Honestly, it’s a life saver.
It took me a while to discover the effectiveness of this technique, and I originally had started it on my own before I knew it was a “technique”. The only difference was I set the timer for 30 minutes. Twenty-five makes a lot more sense because you can keep better control of the hours in a workday.
As a self-employed entrepreneur, I also find this technique useful for estimating my time for different services. My income stream depends on effectively managing my workload and if I can assess how long a project will take, my pricing structure is a lot more accurate for both myself and my clients. Developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 80’s, the method is used by thousands around the world.
Pomodoro Basics for Women with Small Business Ideas
Whatever your task, set a timer for 25 minutes and start working. Once the timer rings, take a break, get up and walk around for 3 to 5 minutes and then start the timer again for another 25 minutes. Repeat this four times and if you haven’t completed your work in that time, take a longer break. The benefit of this technique is that it reduces the tendency to look for distractions.
When I know I’m getting a break after 25 minutes, I’m more inclined to work harder during that time. Personally, it’s hard to work for a sustained period of time; breaking it up into smaller pieces is a good way to manage the load.
While I’m a big fan of the Pomodoro Technique, there are many others out there. We’ve already established that one size does not fit all when it comes to different business ideas for women. Find a technique that works for you by experimenting.
We can’t change the hours in a day, however, we are all in control of how and when we spend our time. There are plenty of time management techniques out there. The key is to find a technique that works for you. Look at The Jar Technique of rocks, pebbles, sand or Pareto’s Principle–the 80/20 rule, as two additional alternatives.
Block Out Distractions As Much As You Can
When you are working from home, it will be impossible to eliminate all of your distractions. The trick is to determine your trigger points and work around them . There is always something else to do around your house or apartment, you have to come up with a way to keep them out of your mind as much as possible.
A pair of noise cancelling headphones is essential. Having a good list on Spotify or Pandora can keep you focused. I love the music channels on cable. Many people don’t even know they exist. Usually found up in the higher numbers (800’s in New England, 500’s in Florida) they are categorized by theme. One of my favorites is the Music Choice – Soundscape channel. Listeners will find a combination of New Age, classical and spa type instrumental. I also enjoy the music for a restorative yoga session.
Doing as much as I can early in the day is vital. Morning hours gives me the most intense concentration time. I am then freed up to take a midday break for errands or a walk. The key is finding out what distracts you so you can take steps to eliminate the triggers as much as possible.
Get a Pair of Blue Light glasses
Blue light is used to illuminate our technology screens. Overexposure can cause disruption to sleep patterns, dry eyes and headaches. I invested in a pair of readers and they have really helped with eye-strain and fatigue. You might call them a daring pair of oversized à la Iris Apfel round peepers. In fact that’s what the company is called-Peepers! Family owned, the 4thgeneration business has been featured as one of Oprah’s Favorite Things.
Wearing the frames is especially helpful at night. You will Enjoy the benefits of their Focus™ Blue Light technology in a stylish frame to shield your eyes from the damaging and disruptive High-Energy Visible (HEV) blue light emanating from modern day electronic screens. Their lenses are guaranteed to filter 40% or more of this harmful blue light without a distracting yellow tint. Many different styles are available to fit the shape of your face.
Don’t let Social Media Take Over Your Life
Earlier in the post, I refered to a time when women business owners struggled with the syndrome of having it all. As I wrote the words, I was greateful for the fact that social media didn’t even exist when I first began my small business. Thank goodness! If ever there was a deep, black hole for time loss, social media ranks at the top of the charts. Yes, there are some positives, but FOMO and Imposter Syndrome are the new forms of Having it All. Social Media Anxiety Disorder can be a debilitating mental state.
Be mindful of the amount of the time you are spending online networking sites, especially in the age of social distancing, when we all want to be connected with friends and family. There are apps that allow you to regulate your time online, and if you find yourself surfing a bit to much–USE ONE! I find Instagram is my Achilles heel–a spot I can easily dive into and loose an hour before I even know what happened. The program has a built-in timer. I’ve set mine for 30 minutes and am usually shocked to see how quickly the notification pops up. Moment is another good one to help with a digital detox.
Don’t Go Overboard
One of the great temptations of working from home or a home-based business is to do as much as you can in a day. I’ve tried this method and honestly, it is counterproductive. Working eight hours in an office doesn’t translate the same way at home. The idea is to work smarter, not harder.
The freedom of working outside an office is setting your own hours and schedule. With discipline and a routine, you can pace yourself and get more accomplished that you ever thought possible.
This will free up time for exercise, self-care or, if necessary, even more work. Make your new normal sustainable, whatever the situation you find yourself in. There needs to be a work/life balance.
Take Time To Exercise and Relax When Working from Home
The human body was not meant to be sitting at a desk all day. Your bone structure is meant to move. Ergonomically there are many options available that work for a remote desk station to help you stay productive. If a new desk is not an option, try standing at counter height to do computer work for part of the day. Use the time to do a mundane task. I set aside standing time to edit photos or work on social media shares. They are both tasks I can complete without a lot of concentration. I can also use the standing time to perform a few leg exercises or stretches on a nearby chair.
Working from home allows you to stretch your legs and exercise. Whether it’s going to a gym or doing a home workout, doing some form of physical activity will make you feel better and keep your mind sharp. You don’t need to work out for an hour, a 20 to 30-minute workout will do the trick. Your body is designed to move, you will remain much sharper than if you sat at your desk the whole day!
Get off the couch and get a workout in. There are a lot of great resources for free home workout and yoga classes. Core Power Yoga is great If you have cable TV most have free yoga for all levels and exercise programs that I bet you didn’t even know you needed!
The point is, you have more time to unwind, instead of being focused on your work for 8 hours straight. This allows you to structure your working day around a routine that works for you, instead of having your workday under someone else’s supervision.
Good Sleep is Essential for Small Business Success
If there is one piece of the puzzle essential for success it’s a good nights sleep. Working from home presents its own list of challenges and a good night’s sleep is indispensable for the health of your mind, body and soul.
Make Your Bedroom a Device Free Zone
Make your bedroom a phone-free zone at night. Put the device in Do Not Disturb Mode and send it off to Miss Lily White’s party at night. You can still have your list of “favorites” set for emergency calls to come through even when your phone is asleep. Let it charge away from your bed.
Take a Bath
Relaxing in a bath before bed is a wellness habit with a huge payoff. While I understand the ritual is not always possible, setting aside one night a week for a hot soak with bubbles, a scented soy candle and lavender or chamomile tea bag can help enhance your evening sleep routine. Both scents are well known for their calming and healing properties. When a bath is impossible, use a concentrated organic essential oil. Rub it on your pulse points or spray on your pillow. Dreamland is around the corner.
Reading Before Bed
We all know the blue light emitted via electronic devices wakes up the brain and disrupts sleep. Reading a book does the opposite. Occupying my thoughts with a good book every night definitely is a positive over aimlessly scrolling through social media or starting to think about putting together a new travel itinerary. If you need an alarm in the morning, use an old-fashioned clock radio. They also usually come with a great white noise function.
Final Thoughts About Business Ideas for Woman Working from Home
Aside from a passion for travel and textiles, the original motivation of starting my own business was to have control over my life and be able to spend time with and be available for my kids. Burning the candle at both ends wasn’t always the best for my own self-care and wellness, but I would never exchange the freedom and opportunities that came my way. And the payoff now is fine tuning a chapter where I have the best job in the world.
Working from home can be a challenge. However, once you get into a groove, you might have a hard time returning to an office. In the meantime, try my tips for keeping your sanity and finding the silver lining to this transformation in the workplace.
Change of environment is never easy and as the new normal transitions into a routine, this pandemic has gripped the world and converted the population of “non-essential” workers into a labor force in the midst of change. The temptation to slack off when working from home is enormous. The truth is, I hope without the distractions of an office, and with some sheer determination, you might find you’ll be able to accomplish more at home in a shorter amount of time.
Like many people around the world, we are all adjusting to a new schedule for daily life. I’ll be the first to admit there is no one size fits all approach. However, there are also a few universal habits that can benefit any woman with business ideas for working from home. These tips have served me well in my 25 years of being self-employed and following different passions. I hope you have found them helpful and they will also benefit you. Whether you are temporarily working from home or are laying the groundwork for an entrepreneurial road of female empowerment and starting your own small business adventure, stay healthy and safe on the path ahead.
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