How Do You Do It All? Home Business

Originally published in a 1992 Timberdoodle catalog.

How does a home teaching mom also find time to participate in a home business? More importantly, why?! Let me answer the why first.

We do it not only to give our children real life skills, and to bolster confidence, but also to develop character. Our experience has shown that if our children are spending 2-3 hours a day in required schoolwork and 1-3 hours a day in required household chores, then apart from meals and other family times, our children would have anywhere from 5-8 hours of free time. While I won’t argue the educational merits of free play, I will say that we have noticed over time that too much liberty leads to a self indulgent attitude. It particularly grieves us to see teens with idle time. What a hazard in these end times! If our children are given an extended dose of free play, we see that when they are asked to do something out of the norm, they balk about giving up what they consider their rightfully earned liberty. They also tend to be more selfish in their play, more given to inappropriate behavior, and certainly more quarrelsome.

Does all this iniquity suddenly disappear with a home business? Of course not! However, by minimizing the unlimited time to cater to one’s sin nature, we have seen positive results.

So now that you can see why we do it, here is how we do it. Again, the name of the game is delegation.

I can remember watching war movies as a child and chafing whenever I saw a general and his top men going over strategy in a tent, far removed from the danger that the common men were facing. “How wrong!,” I thought. But now, as a mom and second-in-command, I can see the wisdom in that system. If the general had been in the trenches with his men, he would be unaware of the overall picture and may have won the battle, but lost the war.

Likewise, in the running of our home-based business, if we are sidetracked into jobs that others could be doing, we begin to lose ground fast. We can also be unaware of bad work habits or attitudes that may be developing. So one of our family business axioms is that Dan and I do what only we can do. In other words, anyone can cut stickers for the packages, so for Dan or myself to do that means that projects that only we can do, like reordering inventory, may not be done in a timely way.

As mentioned in a previous catalog, our children are expected to work a minimum of 20 hours a week. Joy is in training in the postal section. She not only mails out catalogs to everyone who calls or writes, but also prepares all postal packages. For foreign orders this has been a real learning adventure! She also takes care of collating bills with invoices and getting those out in the mail for us.

Hope is primarily responsible for inventory three hours a day. This is not a fun job for her because it involves a lot of decision making concerning what arrives damaged and what does not. But with time, some of the decisions will become easier as she becomes more familiar with the products. Hope was selected for this particular job because she is the family fuss-budget and has a dependable eye for observing the details.

Grace fills one of our two “floating” positions. Right now she works on inventory and on mail. Her mail responsibilities include opening the mail, and then delivering the sorted mail to the appropriate people. She sorts through the returns and ascertains which are damaged. She also makes sure stickers are ready for packers.

Abel fills the other “floating” position, helping Grace with the returns and couriering messages up and down the stairs to various people. He loves to help when our cornstarch packing peanuts arrive and delights in keeping our employee candy dish restocked. He also labels catalogs to be mailed out, but his main responsibility is making sure catalogs are ready for the packers. Other janitorial jobs such as garbage and bathroom detail are assigned as extra jobs, in much the same manner as household chores are. The only exception here is that being tardy to work is another reason to be given an extra job. Obviously, mail-order works for us, but may not suit you or your market. Still, there are unlimited options for business. Making lots of money or being nationally known is not equal to success. “Do you see a man skilled in his work…” (Proverbs 22:29). Our goal should be developing skills in both workmanship and character.

So how do we do it all in a home business? By delegation and observation with the goals of not only “marketable” skills, but also maturity.