Behind the Scenes of a Successful Work From Home Accountant and Mom of 4

Behind the Scenes of a Successful Work From Home Accountant and Mom of 4

Have you ever looked down at your kids and just knownI can’t keep living the life like this?

That you HAVE to make a change and do something different. Whatever it takes.

Senica is just like you. She is you. She had a thriving career, working full-time government job as an accountant and the hours were long, hard and draining. The season (you know, TAXES… we all shudder) is when her door is shut and she gets to work. It’s also when she stops seeing her family.

But what did that mean for her kids?

Today, I sat down and discussed how this brave mom took life into her own hands. How she made the tough decision to leave the secure world of government to go off on her own. With no client base to speak of. No backup plan. Just a passion and a belief that she had to make it work.  Because for her?

Motherhood was worth it. The yearning to create something of her own was there and she knew she could do it.

Meet Senica, mom of four and owner of Simplified Accounting. Today we discuss how she made her business work thrive without one warm lead and what makes this an easily replicable system for you too. She shares her favorite moments of being a working from home mom and how different life is for her now and answers that ever important question – What advice would you give someone who wants to get out of the corporate rat race?

Our Favorite Moments In this Video:

“That first day that you aren’t at your job – you almost need a detox – that feeling is amazing. The details. The date. You will never forget it.”

“Get your first client, get your second client, get your third client and THEN rework your systems because you are now juggling.”

“Being a business owner you have to get out there, let people know you exist, get comfortable, even if it is just closing leads.”  Fun fact….. Senica’s leads come almost entirely from online networking and referrals from her online network.  And she does not have a huge facebook list or email list.  She basically knew exactly the type of client she wanted to target and went specifically for that.

“My first client came from cost per click ads on Google. The coldest lead you can possibly get and it really confirmed for me – yes. I can do this. I am going to make this work!”

Find a mentor!!!  Having a mentor a few seasons ahead of her in this space was key to not feeling alone, avoiding key mistakes and having confidence in starting her own business.

Show Links:

Senica’s Website:   SimplifiedAccount.com

Senica’s Facebook Page:  https://www.facebook.com/ChicagoSimplifiedAccounting/

Mom of 4, 6-Figure Blog and What She’d Do if She was Starting Today

Mom of 4, 6-Figure Blog and What She’d Do if She was Starting Today

Have you ever sat and wondered, “Can I make money as a blogger?”  Maybe this is my exit path from my corporate job.

It looks so fun, right? To write about the things you love – sharing your passions and being creative and super helpful to your audience.

You CAN make money off of a blog but the game is very different than it was even just 3 years ago.   The internet has grown noisier.  There is content galore.  Getting the attention of the right audience is not as easy (nor necessarily free) like it was a few years ago.

Today, we share the story of an amazing mother who turned her passion into a full-time career, blogging about how food does NOT have to break the bank.

Meet Erin Chase, the owner and creator of 5dollardinners.com. She is the mother of four busy boys and her days are full. Running a thriving business and taking care of her family keeps her on her toes but she took the time today to share how she makes it work.

Like my path into online marketing, Erin started about 4 years ago when you could grow a Facebook page faster than a teenage boy outgrows his blue jeans.  And you could do it for free.   

She shares some of her insider secrets and most especially, what she would do if she were starting a blog right now today.

Our Favorite Moments in this Video:

How does a busy mom of 4 get so much done?   She runs 2 big brands ($5 Dinners and FreezEasy) and manages to network, host a great annual blogger conference and more.   This was one of my favorite secrets:   She eats the same food for breakfast and lunch every day. I didn’t see that coming.    Listen to hear more about eliminating some basic decision making to avoid decision fatigue.

4 Boys. That just sounds crazy right?   Erin humbly boasts that her house does look like Pottery Barn because she’s had to adapt a very minimalist view.   (I want that spirit!  Someone convince the rest of my family!)  Listen to a couple of her methods for her home life in this video.   Her suggested reading for this topic:   Josh Becker, Minimalist

So, it’s no secret Erin has made a very successful and profitable blog income.   She is one of those who can and does make multiple 5 figure incomes each month from a combination of advertising revenue, affiliates and her own products.   I’m certain I’ve never heard any other blogger come clean with where they think advertising and affiliate dollars is heading and what to do to protect your business from the decline that is happening there.

Serve well.  No matter what kind of business you are running, serving your audience well is key.  Running a Facebook page with hundreds of thousands of followers, and groups with tens of thousands, doesn’t happen by accident.  It happens by serving one person at a time with each post, video, and graphic you share.   

Here’s the good news.  It’s WAY faster to make a website, an online course or a membership site today than it was a few years ago.  Erin and I both suffered the woes of WordPress plugin incompatibilities and learning more about PHP and javascript than we’d care to.   The good news is that technology is not a barrier like it used to be.  But it’s also not as cheap as it used to be which is why you need a solid business model and not just a wish to dump your brilliant thoughts in a beautiful way onto Pinterest and hope they come.   Hope is not a strategy.

What’s the most valuable tool in her toolkit?  Ontraport.  By far.  It does everything from email to sales pages to membership site management.   There are many, many choices out there to run your website and online course / membership site but the power of doing that all from one dashboard is such a time and money saver.

Links mentioned in this episode:

Step-by-Step Workbook to Quit Your Corporate Job

Erin’s Website: http://www.5dollardinners.com/  and MyFreezEasy.com  (the best freezer cooking system there is!)

Our free Facebook community for moms who are working to leave the corporate workforce and run their own freelance / contractor businesses.
How This Mom Quit Her Soul Sucking Day Job

How This Mom Quit Her Soul Sucking Day Job

Have you ever gone to work sick because your job was on the line?

Or you used all your sick leave taking one kid after another to the pediatrician?

Have you ever pumped your slightly feverish baby with a little ibuprofen and dropped them at daycare because there was an 8 am meeting about budget planning and you needed to be there to represent your team?  (You left after that and picked them up when the daycare called at 11 but still…..mom guilt central.)

No matter how much you love your job, and even sometimes how flexible it is, these parenting moments are tough and will make you want to quit in a heartbeat.   But you can’t.  Because your family needs your income and quite frankly, you’d lose your mind staying home every single day.

You just want work that works for your family.

There’s never been a better time to seek work from home job opportunities.  There is acceptance in the market that high quality individuals with great skills can be found anywhere, anytime.

Today we share the zig-zaggy journey of one mom who went from 5 months pregnant and laid off to buying her new business domain literally from the hospital while she was in labor.

Meet Misha Hettie.  Wife.  Mom. Work-at-Home Business Owner.

Our Favorite Moments In this Video:

“You have to play a role to play the game in the corporate world.  It takes awhile to break out of that.  When your authentic you matches to your business work and your clients, it feels so natural.  If you don’t want to work with stuffy financial executives anymore, then design a business where you don’t need to attract those kind of people.”

“You don’t have to trade your corporate hectic job for even more hectic entrepreneurial life.   Take a talent you already have.  Accounting, Customer Service, Legal, Graphic Design, Technology.   Start broad and then narrow in on the specialty niche that matches your style and gifts.”

“There are lots of ways to make money.  They are in front of your face everyday.  But what is going to be the right way.  What is the way that’s going to be sustainable, that you can count on, that matches your talents and gifts.”

“Chasing money is never the answer.  Money follows excellence.  If you go do what you’re good at, the money will come.  But you must have the right business model.”

Links mentioned in this episode:

Step-by-Step Workbook to Quit Your Corporate Job
Misha’s Website:  UncommonlyGoodBiz.com

Help! My Monthly Email Costs Are Out Of Control!

Help! My Monthly Email Costs Are Out Of Control!

If you are crushing it in the online marketing space, it’s likely that you have a big list and have learned that big = more expensive for many of the tools you need to use.

Welcome to the big leagues!  You’ve made it!  Now act like it kiddo.

(This article is an ever developing analysis as tool features are added and the race to be the best in the online marketing tools space is fast and furious.  I’m seriously impressed with how many great tools are out there.  So expect this to be an active and updated article as we watch the race.)

Currently the email marketing tool niche has so many players you can probably name 3 right now I’ve never heard of.  Awesome.  Because that means there is a big need and competition refines each other with better results for YOU and ME, the business owners.

One of the first hurdles I’ve seen those who have grown their list to 10k+ come upon are the costs of these email tools.

Suddenly over Black Friday weekend, you’ve got a big explosion and you’re hit with multiple $99 charges for email sends.

Or you launch this amazing free challenge and add 14,000 subscribers in 5 days (no income yet, just subscribers) and it bounces you up a tier in pricing +$300 / a month.

The cost of these tools can easily reach $1000 / month when you are sending 100,000 or more emails.

Hopefully if you are at this level of business you are making five figures a month minimum and can absorb the costs like it’s nothing.   Still, the wealthiest people I know watch their dollars closely and know they can optimize this spend.

Here are 5 tips to optimize your contact size and email send volume to maximize the value of your email marketing tool costs

Tip 1:  Scrub your list and reduce the size

But I worked so hard for all those followers!   Yes.  Yes you did.  Let it go, Elsa.   The person who subscribed 2 years ago may have moved on in life and no longer needs your product.   Perhaps you even have duplicate contacts.  The same person with different email addresses or old emails that constantly bounce.

Tip 2:  Segment your list by most engaged

Create a group / tag / list of contacts within your tool that are the most engaged and send your campaigns primarily to them as opposed to the full list.

“Most engaged” could mean:

  • Have opened at least one email in the past 60 days
  • Have clicked any link in the past 3 months
  • Have opened / clicked key emails / links in your bread and butter automated email funnels
  • Have purchased a product from you in the past 6 months

Tip 3:  Segment by Asking Your List What They Want

You could ask by subject matter that pertains to your topic.

Example:  If your topic is cooking related, ask if they are a beginnger, intermediate or advanced chef.  Or if they prefer chicken or beef.  Or if they are cooking for 1, 2 or 6.

Or ask them what medium they prefer to receive content from you.

Would they prefer a facebook click through instead of another email?    Segment based on where they came from.   And….set some facebook retargeting to reach those who are all over facebook.   If you can reduce your email tool costs by $300 / month, take that dollar amount and apply it to Facebook ads, marketing the same content, to the segment of your list who primarily comes to you through facebook.

Ask them if they would mind if you moved to a twice a month instead of weekly send.

You could also segment automatically based on their actions.   Product purchaser.  Blog reader.  Facebook skimmer.

Tip 4:  Simplify.  Reduce funnels, products, opt-ins and programs

Eliminate your lowest performing funnel / opt-in or product.  Now if it’s the lowest performing it may not reduce your email send volume by a lot but I’ve had a peek into some of your all’s cluttered up email marketing closets and chances are you’ve got some skeletons hanging around out there that need to go away.

Is there an ugly opt-in and ebook you made 2 years ago before we had all these fancy nancy tools?  Ditch it (or temporarily shut it down and put it on the “to be updated” project list.)

Is there a product that brings you more stress and less dollars?  Eliminate it.

You know the 80/20 rule.  80% of the results comes from 20% of the __________.   Apply this in whatever way makes sense for your market.

(And listen to this tough love….if you are thinking “but I have 27 digital products and all of them sell something!”   Trust me on this simplification thing.  What you focus on thrives.  There’s no way you can market 27 digital products unless you have a big team and have segmented your team into specialization areas.   No ones brain works well on 27 different topics AND it’s probably harder for your ideal client to find what they need as well.)

Tip 5:  Analyze Email Send Frequency and Top Opens / Engagement times and topics to reduce the number of emails you are sending

What time of day / week / month are your emails getting the most opens?   Eliminate the low openers and focus in on the hot times.

Do you have a 10 part drip campaign but emails 5 and 7 barely get opens?  Re-evaluate that message and eliminate or consolidate.

There is no “right answer” here so if you feel constrained, by all the “send emails on Tuesdays at 6 am EST” messages you see online, do a fact check on your metrics.   The question is what works for YOUR audience.   If you are targeting moms of little kids, an 8 pm email send could be perfectly timed right at the top of their inbox when they sit down for the evening and a little “me time”.

So, there are a lot of possible actions there.   I know what that means.  You’re overwhelmed and don’t know where to start.

Look at YOUR data.  And pick 2 low hanging fruits to get started.

If this is not in your bag of tricks, outsource it.

Fudge. I think I need a new email tool.

Did reading this make you realize you may be overspending?

Don’t want to dig through all the latest tools / options / feature comparisons?

Are you in the big leagues but haven’t yet stepped up to the big kid table with your tool?

Here’s a spreadsheet we keep updated with tools we feel are worthy of being on your radar and meet needs across the spectrum of online businesses.

It’s free.   (Send us your thoughts if you’d like us to add more criteria or tools for analysis!)

VIEW MY REAL TIME EMAIL TOOL ANALYSIS

Work That Works

The “sweet spot” is when this “life formula” adds up:

Committed Marriage + Physical Health + Mental Health + Happy Family Life + Your Work Is also Your Passion (+ your personal cup of tea hobby and interest)  = The Sweet Spot

Of course that never adds up perfectly.   We all have sick days, sick kids, yes even bratty misbehaved kids, something annoying about our spouse and many other things out of our control to lead to one or more elements of that formula taking over and dominating the equation.

However, there are a few things in that equation well within our means to tweak and adjust and find our way back to that sweet spot.  Of course marriage and health and family are lifelong journeys of learning with no shortcuts.  Every birthday brings new wisdom.

Work though.  Now that’s a choice.   Where to work.  How to work.  With whom to work.  When to work.

Even good work can go bad, at which point you chose to stick it out for the season or make a change.  You don’t have to stay stuck in bad work.

Work is always changeable in some way which is an incredibly exciting part of life.

“You can be anything” is what we tell kids but not as often do we tell it to ourselves.

Recently my church featured me in this short video during a series called “Stories from the Water Cooler”.   Last year I made the switch from working in a corporate 8-5 job that took me from my family so much to working for myself as a business consultant  and founder and director of a non-profit.  It’s a dream.  Honestly.  I don’t say that to brag.  I say that because I want this for so many people.   Not to do exactly what I have done but to find Work. That. Works.     I want for young dads to not have to fly all over God’s gorgeous creation climbing the proverbial corporate ladder selling something their heart isn’t into if it’s sucking their soul.   I want smart, talented moms to have work that flexes around their family needs.  I want baby boomers to be able to care for aging parents and still contribute their wisdom and gifts in the work place.  I want young singles out of college to be able to pursue the giant problems in our world with fresh new thinking.  I of course want firefighters to find their place in their crew and department where they can best serve…and perhaps even a side career love that fills them up after a night of tough calls.

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When you find work that works, you are best aligned to bring your best self and your best gifts to this world.  To your life, your marriage, your family, your community and more.  Ultimately, 24-7 COMMITMENT is about a commitment in all those facets of our life, including work.   It’s hard to be committed to work that doesn’t work.

Doing work that works is……

  • doing work that matches your natural and learned talents
  • doing work in an environment (office, people, team, online community) that matches your personality
  • doing work that fits with your season of family needs
  • doing work that fills your soul

If you aren’t already subscribed to my working mom email list, you can register below.   And yes, men are welcome too.  And you don’t have to know a firefighter to get in.  Because you all need to be finding creative ways to be home with your growing children as well!

For Two Years I Watched This Free Video Series

The best free training I ever received was this video series being offered by Marie Forleo.  Watch and learn.  If you want to take the next step in B-School, you won’t do it alone.  I’ll be offering personal coaching for those who sign up for the 24-7 COMMITMENT B-School group.  But it all starts with what you can learn in this series.

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It’s a New Year of Hope Working Mama!

{In 2015, I left a 22 year career in a M-F 8-5 job that I didn’t hate but was constantly tearing my heart in two directions.  I am so blessed to be in a season where I can be home more for my 4 kids and still be contributing all my purpose and talents in a way that makes a difference outside of my home.   But these blessings don’t come without sacrifice and tough choices and seasons of discipline and focus and crazy unexplainable faith.   My heart is exploding to pour into women who are charging this same mountain.  And that includes a lot of fire wives who add to that the crazy fire life schedules.  Welcome to a new series at 24-7 COMMITMENT meant to encourage all you women out there who are crushing it at home and in the work place and need to hear more often that they rock…..and deserve that 20 minutes of peace they find with their headphones blasting and the treadmill churning while they pretend they can’t hear anyone around them!  Heart you ladies!!!  Lori @wifeonfire }

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It’s been over a week since you spent 10 blissful days at home for the holidays where you finally stopped grabbing your phone to check work email and your joy was found in sticky fingers, precious arts and crafts you pretend are the next Mona Lisa treat and finally organizing that bin of outgrown clothes and basking in the accomplishment of getting your toddler to eat green beans. Your nest is organized and your clothes smell like your sweet babies nap time sweat.

Then reality hits. First day back after the new year. At first you do see the positives. Ok. Routine. We’re ready for this. Late nights and late breakfasts are fun for awhile but not so good on that nap schedule nor the waist line. And you do get to wear that new outfit Santa brought you while drinking from a new coffee mug decorated with tiny handprints and spritz on your favorite new scent. Fresh desk. Fresh planner. There is niceness in all that new.

But your whole heart and mind didn’t show up to the office because today, someone else got to wake up and snuggle your babies and / or see them off to school. It stings a little (maybe a lot.)  You compensate by crunching spreadsheets to see what you can squeeze out of your budget to spend every day at home with those adorable curtain climbers. While the rest of your brain is secretly reminding you that after 7.2 days full time at home, you’d miss the chase for that next new project bid and a reason to wear something besides comfy house clothes.

It’s a tug of war between the heart and the mind. You want both. You know you can’t do it exactly.  “You can have it all” is ridiculous because no one has ever really understood in your mind exactly how extensive your ideal “all” stretches.   Trust me.  I used to think we could have it all.  What you really want is to be able to do the right thing in the right moment with a heart that is confident you are serving with your gifts in the right place at the right moment, whether that be showing up in the 2nd grade classroom or taking a red eye to the west coast to make that important contact needed for your business.   That determined spirit inside you who’s already rocked these years birthing children and business projects all at once knows there is a way.

This applies to so many scenarios of mom’s working outside the home.  Corporate desk jobs.  Shift work nurses (although I’m so jealous of your ladies flexible schedules and part time options!).  Teachers (yes, jealous of your summers for sure but that school year M-F grind can be tough!).   Sales reps always on the road.   Small business admins.   Professionals.   Actually, I can’t think of a mom career this doesn’t apply too.   Even for me who runs my own businesses, mostly setting my own hours and working from home, still has to balance and navigate those priorities – is that email more important right now or can it wait?  Which travel do I really need to say yes to in 2016?

Women were made for motherhood and purposes way outside the scope of motherhood.   And….we were made to be able to get it all done well.   And all of us have really flubbed up that balance at one point or another.    Surround yourself with those who’ve been there and believe in you.  We hope you find that here.

It’s only a season

Firstly let me encourage you that no matter where you are, it’s a season. We are either entering a new season, content in a season, frustrated in a season or actively working to leave a season. Here’s what these seasons may look like for a woman with children who’s working a M-F 8 – 5ish kind of job:

Entering a new season:

– was just promoted
– had another child
– changed childcare arrangements (kids now in preschool part time or moved to a new provider)
– just cut back work hours

Entering a new season requires – a new plan, a new schedule, a new way to track tasks and events, training for all the newbies in the season – your new sitter, new team

Content in a season

– your boss rocks
– your schedule rocks
– the money rocks
– your kids seem well adjusted to the current mode
– your husband is managing this pace and routine
– or at least a couple of those things rock and you can tolerate the rest
– you have a side gig that’s fun and manageable and a good break from work

You feel like “you’ve got this” even when you know it’s just an illusion until the next chicken pox / bad project / sports schedule change shows up.   Still, you blissfully enjoy it.

Frustrated in a season

– constant tension between work and family schedules
– a boss who doesn’t understand
– projects that don’t light your fire
– fraught with illness, doctors appointments or some new “stage” of childhood that knows how to push all your buttons
– your husband’s job is high pressure at the same time as yours
– you know you have to keep working to pay off some bad debt
– you’re overwhelmed with all your tasks trying to work your day job and your hopeful side gig

In this season, you may find yourself wondering if you’ll ever be cut out for this life.  That negative self-talk can get ugly.

Actively working to leave a season

– you’re killing it in your routine
– you see a light at the end of a project tunnel and a chance for a re-org with a new team and / or boss
– it’s almost winter break / summer break / vacation time
– your kids are changing an age group – starting into school full-time
– you’re about to start / end maternity leave
– your dream job second job is growing to a point you can maybe leave your daytime gig
– You know you can hang on for _____ days

In this season you feel like you could take on the world and can’t wait to celebrate with that sweet reward at the end.

Will you join us?  A journey together to find our perfect moments no matter the season.  Less judging.  More encouraging.  And trusted advice as we go navigate.  No you can’t have it “all” but you can have all the perfect moments.