Written by The Dad
It’s been awhile since I’ve written anything here because I’ve been busier than usual. We recently started a small family business.
We’ve always wanted a small business we can run from home. As mentioned in most of our posts, we homeschool/unschool our kids. The best way to do that is for me, the dad, to keep working my current job, and for my wife to stay home.
It’s not easy to run a house on a single income. It’s doable, and we do fine, but it takes a lot of effort and planning. It’s important to us so we do it, come what may.
So, for the past few years we’ve been looking for opportunities start something out of our house as a supplement, something we can both run together. We’ve had small online businesses in the past, but each time we’ve started a new one we’ve quickly reached the point where we felt our time wasn’t being used effectively; that we needed more out of the business but couldn’t afford to put more time into it. We never felt the money we were making justified the business taking up all of our available free time, and we felt like we couldn’t scale the businesses in a way that would mitigate that.
Long story short, we’ve signed up as consultants with an established company that sells boutique clothing. This post isn’t a pitch to buy from the business , so I won’t go into what we’re selling (but feel free to check it out anyway, wink wink). I’m writing just to jot down a few thoughts I’ve had recently about what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. We’ve been asked why in the world we got involved many times, so here are some thoughts:
“What are you doing?”
We first got the idea to join the company near the end of last year. It’s an idea we’d kicked around before and never considered very seriously, but as time passed we’d warmed up to this idea for reasons I’ll outline in this post.
We have some close friends whose opinions (about anything) we value highly. We compare notes, seek advice, bounce ideas, brainstorm etc. Naturally, when we first started thinking seriously about starting joining this company I picked up the phone to get my friend’s unbiased opinion. He didn’t get it.
“Why are you doing this?” he asked me. “How does this get you closer to your goals?”
Goals and Dream Boards
It was a good question. We’re very goal-oriented and we often circle back to analyze our goals when making decisions. We have pictures around our house that represent our ambitions. We talk about them all the time.
Most of our goals as a couple and as a family are themed around increasing our freedom. We’ve talked to our friends before about starting or buying businesses in the past, even meeting with brokers, local business owners and financiers.
The “What are you doing?” question was prefaced by the fact that we’d always assumed that we’d start our very own business from scratch or buy someone else’s. The business we ended up “starting” is really more of a position as retailers for a larger company. So the idea of my wife and me joining someone else’s endeavor didn’t make sense to my friend. But, we’d looked into all sorts of options and nothing felt right. We don’t have any great ideas for our own business and don’t have the money, time or expertise to take over anyone else’s (although had we found something that blew our socks off we surely would’ve made it work). So we decided to go down this path.
I’m sure anyone who reads our blog has watched Simon Sinek’s popular “Start With Why” TEDx talk. It’s healthy to step back and think about our “why” frequently. It helps get through the busy, stressful, hectic times that are essential to any goal worth pursuing. When the emotional high from starting a new thing wears off and the day-to-day rigors sets in it’s helpful to know why we’re putting ourselves though it.
We have a list of reasons for starting this particular business, most of which are straightforward: low initial cost, extra income, ability to set our own hours, popular company with quality products and good reputation, etc.
More pertinent to this blog are the homeschool-related benefits. Here are some of those:
Homeschool Benefits to Starting Our Own Business
- First of all, the chance to set our own hours can’t be overstated. We love our free time, because it allows us to pursue homeschooling interests as they arise. Learning at home is really important to us, and setting our own schedule isn’t just a benefit it’s a feature. We do a mix of traditional homeschooling and unschooling, so while we have certain times set aside for school work we also like to let the kids follow their interests as much as they’d like to. Sometimes this means taking a night off from working our business to go to our local observatory or museum. Without a store front to maintain or deadlines out of our control we are free to pursue interests as they arise. Of course some things (like writing this blog) have fallen by the wayside already, but that’s alright.
- I love that my kids are growing up around a business. Specifics don’t really matter, I just like them to be exposed so they can learn that hustling and working for yourself is awesome. I have a great job, but my kids don’t really get much exposure to it. By watching us work from home our kids can see how the world works; as the old saying goes, “Nothing happens until something is sold.”
- Setting our own schedule and giving our kids business exposure are great tangential benefits to running this business, but there’s a more direct benefit: teaching traditional school subjects through experience. Remember those arduous story problems in our school math books? Bakers cutting pies into fractions, trains driving toward each other at different speeds, etc etc. I believe those lessons will stick even better when they’re lived and experienced.
Those are the main reasons we chose to start our business. It’s good for me to look back on these reasons and be thankful that we have the freedom and ability to work hard to make homeschooling work.