Making Both Ends Meet From Home

Some people make serious money from an idea that has had its inception at the kitchen table. Others have an equally good idea but that’s where it stays, at the kitchen table. Still others, have a go, and the results aren’t all that great. If I was able to explain or draw distinctions between those three groups of people I’d be a genius and a millionaire, too. But, it is possible to tease out some of the factors that make some home-spun businesses fly.

Some people are good on detail and good with money, the chasing up of it and keeping a rein on it – that helps. The timing of course, is absolutely crucial. There is an argument that says that starting a small business in hard times is a good idea. The logic here is that if you are capable of surviving in hard times you are going to fly when times get better.

Business planning

But, setting up in business and becoming an entrepreneur is not for everybody. Suppose you have young children and decide that for the time being you want to be at home with them as much as possible, either because this is what you really want to do or child care costs make a return to work illogical are there ways that you can still make some money? It is worth sitting down with your partner or a close friend and having a serious discussion – sometimes another slightly more objective view is invaluable.

The first things to consider are your strengths – everybody has a talent or facility that can be put to good use. Take an honest look at your own character. There is no point in doing something that is going to try your patience too much. A friend of mine, at home when her children were young, looked after her neighbour’s kids.
This was fine for a while, but she found that she missed adult company and sought an alternative.

However, for a period of time, this helped my friend to boost her income. You do not have to do something for the rest of your working life, to consider doing it for a while. A knock-on effect of the need for both parents to work and high crèche fees are that there is a demand for good child care given by genuinely caring people in their own homes. If childminding sounds like an option for you, a good start is to check out childminding.ie This website will give you the low-down on insurance, regulation and possible training opportunities.

My niece recently had a 17th birthday party. A local woman made the cake – a real girlie party cake. One result of Sarah’s party was 4 more orders for similar cakes from her friends all within the next 3 months. If you like baking and have a creative streak, this is well worth considering. Check with your local council about regulations regarding food hygiene and other environmental considerations.

homemade chutney

Farmers’ markets (often called Country markets) have become very popular in Ireland, in recent years. There are so many opportunities for those who bake, make jam, chutneys and also those who have good ideas on craft, knitting and sewing. If you like the co-operative principles and the freedom of choice involved, why not have a go? My own experience of craft fairs has taught me certain truths: variety is important; you must have some goodies to draw potential customers to your stall. Keep an eye on trends; vintage and retrospective are still very popular – floral and spotted material, hand-knitted tea-cosies, cushions, bags and various bits of kitchenalia and gardenalia can sell well. Young girls like headbands and pretty animal themed (owls are popular at the moment) accessories. Check out countrymarkets.ie.

You may be able to supplement your household income by doing some on-line work. The financial rewards may be modest but consider taking some surveys. Look for more information on Vivatic.

Because of the economic downturn people are cutting down on some services but depending on where you live, there may be opportunities for earning money- doing ironing, for instance. There are still some who are cash-rich and time-poor – people who are willing and able to make their lives run more smoothly by out-sourcing some domestic tasks.

If you find yourself with time on your hands and a head that is buzzing with money-making ideas it is a really great idea to get together with like-minded friends. Ideas can blossom when you are sharing them with others and it may be possible to spread the cost, risk and work. There are some exciting initiatives in Ireland at the moment. Groups are taking over empty premises-sadly, there are plenty of these about - and selling their wares in "pop-up" shops.

vintage pop-up shop

You could decide to use this time at home to bring about serious change in your life. This could be the only opportunity you may have to re-train or just enhance your education. Some people leave education early without fulfilling their potential. There are all sorts of reasons – for many the teen years are confusing and unsettled, so much so that education is almost an irrelevance. Later on, this can be something your regret. But, speaking as someone who is involved in education, it really isn’t too late. If you are interested in vocational retraining, explore some of your options on Irish Training.

If you are interested in pursuing your academic education – maybe aiming to get a degree or a higher degree, a good starting point is: www3.open.ac.uk/near-you/Ireland

Being at home for a while can lead you to follow some interesting new pathways in life. Freed from the factory/office/staffroom grind can also liberate your mind and can be a time of opportunity, not just of loss.