By Marcia K. Washburn
Many families are struggling as a result of today’s economic challenges, and homeschooling families are not exempt. Uncertainty in the job market and spiraling
food and gas prices concern everyone, especially those of us known as SILKS: Single Income, Lots of Kids.
Many women wonder if they should supplement the household income by starting
a home business. There are many factors to consider before jumping into a
business, however. Here are some questions to ask yourself before going down the
The Why of the Business
Why do you want to start a home business? To supplement the family income? To
get out of debt? To build a nest egg? For personal fulfillment? To be able to give
more generously to the church or missions?
It is important to determine the mission of your business. Without a goal in mind,
it will be impossible to write a good business plan and to make decisions about the
The Who of the Business
Address the question of who will be involved in this business. Would you and your
husband run it together, or would this be something that you do while he continues
to work at his present job?
Is the business family-friendly?
How will this endeavor impact your children?
Your homeschool? Will you be able to meet your family’s needs and still run this
Will your children be able to make a contribution to the business in some way? Is
your family strong enough to bear the weight of this business, especially during the
early years when you are just building it?
Does the business you are considering require you to have a quiet workplace? Will
your children have access to you all of the time or only when your office door is
open? Will you need to arrange for childcare? Will a sitter come to your home, or
will you take the children elsewhere? What will you do if a child or the sitter is sick?
How will you pay for the cost of childcare during the time before your business
How strong are your management skills? A business won’t improve an already
chaotic household. How will you handle your household tasks? Business owners
still get only twenty-four hours each day, just like the rest of the human race. Will
you need to drop some of your present activities, hobbies, or ministries in order to
devote necessary time to your business?
How will this business impact your marriage? What does your husband say about
this idea? Do you have his full blessing or simply his permission? Will your business
help him or conflict with his vision for your family?
The When of the Business
Is this good timing for you to start a business? What else is going on in your life
right now? Are you a new homeschooler? Do you have a newborn or a newly
adopted child in your family? Are you caring for a health-challenged person?
How many hours each day or week can you devote to this business? When will
you work on the business? When the children are sleeping? When you should be
Do you have time to run a business? Is this a good season of your life to undertake
this endeavor? Don’t compromise your ability to perform your work with excellence
in this season of nurturing and homeschooling by taking on the responsibilities of
a business prematurely. Meditate on Ecclesiastes 3:1: “To every thing there is a
season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”
The What of the Business
Are you thinking of starting a particular type of business? Will you sell products or
provide services? What do you really enjoy doing? Do you like spending time with
people, or do you prefer to work alone? Is the product or service God-honoring and
something of true value to your customers?
Ask yourself if you really want or need to start a profitable business or if you just
enjoy doing this activity as a hobby. The Internal Revenue Service has very specific
guidelines for what qualifies as a business. There are generous deductions for
those who are actually running a business with intent to earn profit, but there are
strict guidelines defining whether a business is truly a business or merely a hobby.
Research these guidelines carefully.
The Where of the Business
Are there zoning laws related to operating a business in your home? Sometimes a city or county permits certain kinds of home businesses, but the homeowners’ association does not. Research these issues. Also find out if your type of business
will require a special license.
How will you adapt your home to accommodate your business? If clients will come
to your home, what rooms will they have access to? Will you need a waiting room?
What arrangements need to be made for their safety? What arrangements need
to be made to protect the safety of your family and your possessions from your
Visit with your insurance agent to determine whether you need to purchase
additional coverage to cover loss of inventory or additional liability insurance if
people will be coming to your home.
The How of the Business
Have you developed a business plan to help clarify your thoughts? Exactly how will
you make money doing this business? How much do you anticipate making in the
first month? In the first quarter? The first year? Five years from now? Why do you
think you can earn this much? Is this enough to be worth the hours you will invest
in the business?
How much will it cost to start this business? What equipment or changes in your home will be necessary? What services will you have to pay for each month, such as additional phone lines, Internet, website, or credit card processing? Will you
need a business or tax license? How will you cover your start-up costs?
How will you grow your business? Who is your target market? How will these people learn about your products or services? How much does advertising cost?
What about business cards, flyers, brochures, signs, and other tangible advertising
Will you need special training? Do you know someone who can mentor you in your
business? Check the Small Business Administration’s website for dozens of helpful articles for small businesses.1
There are two ways to have more money: you can increase your income, or you
can decrease your outgo. It is much easier to keep money that is already in your
pocket than to earn more money to put into it. Could you keep more money in your
home by more carefully budgeting the money you already have?
Ask the Lord to lead and direct you as you discern His will about starting a home
business. Then, if He directs you to move ahead, ask Him to give you a head for
business, a heart for ministry, and hands for service so that your business can be a
blessing both to your clients and to your family.
Marcia K. Washburn homeschooled her five sons for nineteen years. She has operated a piano studio for many years and is the author of Talent to Treasure:
Building a Profitable Music Teaching Business. This article is adapted from her new E-Book, Managing Your Finances, the third in her Management for Moms series. To view her resources, visit www.marciawashburn.com/
1. See the Small Business Administration website for a wealth of free information at www.sba.gov.
Copyright 2012, used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in the September 2012 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the family education magazine. Read the magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com or read it on the go and download the free apps at www.TOSApps.com to read the magazine on your mobile devices.
From the Smiths:
Updated 1 October 2014: Three years on (Craig Smith’s Health) page 7 click here
Needing help for your home schooling journey:
Here are a couple of links to get you started home schooling:
Information on getting started: http://hef.org.nz/
Information on getting an exemption: http://hef.org.nz/
This link is motivational: http://hef.org.
Exemption Form online: http://hef.org.nz/