HomeWork
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HomeWork
Table of Contents
Prologue .................................................................................................................................................................4
HomeWork: A Labor of Love ................................................................................................................................. 6
Recycling Jeans in a Motor Home by Amy Cook...........................................................................................................................7
Business in Color - At Home by Marisa Miller.............................................................................................................................. 10
Travel as a Way of Life by Julie Tietz................................................................................................................................................ 13
A Bushel of Businesses by Jennifer Mitchell................................................................................................................................ 16
Books From the Book Lover by Camille Lancaster..................................................................................................................... 20
Raising Critters and Kids by Annette Vellenga............................................................................................................................ 23
HomeWork: Computer Based ............................................................................................................................. 26
My Life as an Internet “Mom-preneur” by Cate Brizzell............................................................................................................ 27
Computer Network Management (Mostly) From Home by Georganne Schuch............................................................ 31
HomeWork: Creative Writing .............................................................................................................................. 35
The Sherwood Journey by Marie Filion Sherwood and Peter Sherwood......................................................................... 36
Hope Chest Legacy Plus Three by Rebekah Wilson................................................................................................................... 41
Writing, Editing, and Printing at Kap & Pen Publications by Gail Kappenman................................................................ 50
Full Circle: The Story of Remembrance Press by Jill Novak..................................................................................................... 57
HomeWork: Business Support ............................................................................................................................ 65
Work at Home? Me? by Karen Kirby................................................................................................................................................ 66
Keeping Books to Homeschool by Gerrie Lynn Wallace.......................................................................................................... 69
HomeWork: Tricks of the Trade ........................................................................................................................... 73
Keeping Finances Organized in a Work-at-Home Business by Carol Topp, CPA ............................................................. 74
Organization for Home and Work by Katy Daum ...................................................................................................................... 79
Epilogue ............................................................................................................................................................... 84
The Final Word ..................................................................................................................................................... 86
Appendix: Additional Helpful Internet Resources ............................................................................................ 90

The big question commonly posed to those of us
adventurous enough to school our own children, work
from home, and keep up with days that run into weeks,
then months and years . . . is, “How do you do it all?”
This fascinating set of stories, from homeschooling moms
who also work from home, who make anywhere from
pocket money to big bucks, will give you a little insight into
the big answer to the big question: “We D-O-N-T!”
Every story included in these pages is unique and exciting!
These moms tell the ins and outs, ups and downs, what
they are doing and how they manage to do it. All have
different talents, personalities, and lifestyles. Each has
their very own husband, different from yours! They have
anywhere from one child to a big batch of them–and none
of them are the same either! But none of them do it all! So
sit back and read how these moms have used their own
talents, abilities, and families to do everything they can–at
home–where they belong!
Best to all of you in all your ventures at home, whether it
be your homeschool or your homework! Remember it is
a journey and the road is not always smooth. I’m striving
to not be like a horse and buggy–only running smoothly
when the road isn’t bumpy! You will enjoy the journeys
of these amazing moms who are using their gifts to bless
their own families–then jump on–and join us for the
journey!
Prologue
By: Martha Greene
Martha Greene lives with her husband of 30 years, Roger, in rural South Carolina. They were blessed to “add” 11
children to their family and now are enjoying the “multiplying” years as their children marry and have their own
children. They chose homeschooling as a way of life back in the early 80s under the influence of books by Dr.
Raymond Moore. Their first grandchild is now an official little homeschooler too! Martha never claims to “do it
all” but fills every day to the fullest.
She has self-published nine titles, that includes The Treasury of Vintage Homekeeping Skills, and she manages
and operates a business that employs other moms at home in a cottage sewing industry making children’s
garments for upscale boutiques. She sews and drafts the original patterns for the garments as well. She has
published her own original line of sewing patterns and original handmade items called MarmeeDear
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Creations. Martha loves graphic design, and produces a full color 50+ page catalog for MarmeeDear &
CO. each year. MarmeeDear & CO. began as a whim starting out as Marmee’s Kitchen. That was only
four years ago and it has spiraled into a very successful mail-order business through her online shop at
www.MarmeeDear.com and www.MarmeesKitchen.com. She has joined hands with Rebekah Wilson and
helps with graphic design for the Family Mercantile Catalogue and together, she and Rebekah, sponsor The
HomeMaker’s Mentor, LLC.
Success, however, has not been a day at the park! Her days of work usually last from 12 to 14 hours-
homeschooling, home duties, business demands, feeding the family!
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HomeWork:
A Labor of Love
We begin our journey into the world of homeschooling while running a
home-based business with a somewhat eclectic collection of business
ideas. What binds them together is that each author has taken a personal
interest, or already established family business, and developed it into
something more. Some of these enterprises began as hobbies. Some are
extensions of what the family was already doing in a different setting. All
are trying to help support the family financially, while also serving the Lord
and others in a tangible way.

Recycling Jeans in a Motor Home
By: Amy Cook
quilts and other fun stuff. Magnolia, lately, has been
exploring the possibilities of turning thrift finds into unique
jewelry. And while Willow doesn’t craft any of our products
just yet, we’ve dubbed her the CEO because of her take-
charge (i.e., bossy) attitude.
Every day brings new challenges, and most days I’m ready
to pack it in at least once, but with God’s grace and a
measure of perseverance we manage to move forward.
If nothing else, our current lifestyle has expanded our
vocabulary. Some of our new words include:
Constraints–We have the normal time constraints
of any homeschooling family, as well as the space
constraints of living and working in a motor home.
Staying organized is a constant challenge for me. I’d
like to say we’re up by 6 a.m. every day and done with
our school work by noon, but that would be less than
the truth. I’m not fond of strict schedules, so we have a
much more laid-back approach. For the most part, we
sew when we feel like it and do schoolwork when we
feel like it. The fact that we love to do both keeps us
from falling behind. Sometimes–for instance, when we
have a big craft show coming up–we set school aside
and concentrate on the business for a week. When
we’ve accomplished that goal, we have homeschool
boot camp until we’re caught up. Our school is in
We are the Cook family and we have lost our minds. Not
only are we living and homeschooling in a 34’ motor home
with two parents, two kids, two dogs and a cat, we also
recently started a home-based (excuse me…motor home-
based) sewing business. Are we crazy? You bet! Are we
having fun? Tons of fun!
It all began with my 11 year old daughter, Magnolia. She
wanted to earn a little extra money, so she asked me what
kind of business she could run. I put her off at first, but
upon further reflection, I decided it would be an awesome
learning opportunity for her, as well as for my six year old,
Willow. We assessed our skills, resources and personal
interests and decided a sewing business was right for us.
We further concluded that our main goals would be:
to sell environmentally-friendly products,
to give back a portion of our sales to the community,
to help other families earn extra income, and
to make enough money to go to
Disney Land.
Thus, The Recycled Jeans Company was born. While
we haven’t made it to Disney Land yet, we have made
significant inroads into our first three goals. We spend our
days combing thrift stores and yard sales for cast-off jeans,
place mats, or whatever else catches our fancy. We take it
all home, cut it up and re-sew it into funky purses, pillows,
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session all year round so we can take shorter breaks
throughout the year. In a motor home, space is actually
our biggest enemy. We spend a lot of time moving
school books off the table so we can set up the sewing
machine, and vice versa.
TogethernessThis one is pretty self-explanatory. We
live in a motor home because my husband is in the
Army, currently attending a 10-month school. This was
our third move in less than two years so we didn’t relish
the thought of setting up another household for only 10
months. People wonder how we do it and it is definitely
a challenge but, as with our business, we feel it adds
depth to our homeschooling experience. Thanks to the
Army, we’ve been able to visit 10 national parks in the
past 10 months.
I had not planned to homeschool my children. In fact,
Magnolia attended a public kindergarten. But the
summer before first grade we moved to a very liberal
state in a city that had an alarming number of drug
dealers. Public school was out of the question, so I did
some research, ordered some books and our homeschool
journey began. We both loved it so much, we never even
considered going back to a traditional school setting.
It’s taken some trial and error to find the best method,
but overall I like the Charlotte Mason approach of
incorporating “living books” wherever possible. Reading
about the different learning styles was a life-changing
moment for me. I quickly realized Magnolia was an
auditory learner, which has made her schooling so much
easier and more effective. Now I’m more able to gear her
curriculum to her learning style. My youngest daughter,
Willow, is a tactile learner so I give her a lot of hands-on
projects.
Prioritize–We’ve certainly learned the value of
prioritizing and eliminating certain things from our
lives. The kids are only allowed to participate in one
outside activity each. Magnolia chose singing lessons
and Willow chose Girl Scouts. I feel unstructured
playtime is essential, so I make sure they have some
of that each day, but we do all have limits on the “big
three”—the telephone, television, and Internet. And
as hard as I find it to say “no,” I’ve had to learn that I
can’t be all things for all people. Sometimes, I simply
can’t do what others want me to do. While I often miss
lingering
over a cup
of coffee
with my
girlfriends,
the
satisfaction
I get from
creating
a fabulous purse or the pride I feel when an adult
compliments my children on their intelligence and
creativity overshadow any regrets I may have.
Finding space for our school books and business supplies
is a constant challenge. Every couple of months we
We’ve certainly learned the
value of prioritizing and
eliminating certain things
from our lives.
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rearrange our whole house trying to find the best way to
organize, but the laws of physics always work against us.
We have several overhead compartments where we keep
our school items, and I’ve found the best way to store
our fabrics and finished products is in plastic containers,
which I stash under the sofa, beneath the table, in my
car… wherever I can find an unoccupied spot. A few
months ago a local shop started carrying our products, so
now I can “store” many of them at the store.
AccomplishmentIn the course of setting up and
running the business, Magnolia has learned how to
apply for a business license, run a cash register, sew, and
procure a business loan. She’s learned about customer
service and goal setting. We are both learning more
about advertising and taxes. We’ve gotten our products
into a local gift shop and participated in two craft fairs
this year. Our business has taken us into bold new
territories such as website shopping carts and blogging,
and I hope it will keep our family working and growing
together for many years to come.
The Internet has been my best friend as far as market
research is concerned. I’ve spent countless hours online
researching product prices, craft fairs, business licensing,
online shopping, and more. I’ve learned that what sells at
craft fairs doesn’t necessarily sell online, and vice versa. The
same holds true for product pricing. You have to really get
to know your customer base, find out what they’re looking
for, and what price they’re willing to pay for it. Besides my
own website, I list items on www.etsy.com and occasionally
on eBay. I’m constantly testing new products at all my
selling venues. Finding a successful formula is a matter of
research followed by a bit of trial and error.
The Cook family: Mark, Amy, Magnolia, and Willow.
The Recycled Jeans Company–www.recycledjeansco.commail@recycledjeansco.com
Having been an Army wife for 22 years, Amy has an interesting and ever-changing lifestyle, which currently
involves living in a motor home while homeschooling her two daughters and running the family business, The
Recycled Jeans Company. Before forming this business, Amy worked as a copy editor in Japan, a real estate agent
in South Carolina, and a web designer all over the U.S. Her favorite activities are traveling, reading, and sewing.
Amy grew up in Mississippi where she attended McLaurin High School with country singer Faith Hill. After many
years of roaming the globe, Amy now considers Palmer, Alaska, home.
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Over the last couple of years, God has provided a very
joyful work at home lifestyle for our family. We operate a
graphic design, screen-printing and embroidery business
completely from home. Our press and other equipment
are in the garage. Mac, my husband, meets clients at their
location to take orders and collect payment, and our living
room is the client showroom/office. Most of our customers
are other small business owners and churches. Our largest
percentage of work is screen printing t-shirts, followed by
embroidery and printing.
Mac worked with his father at his sign shop doing basically
the same thing for ten years, and it got to a point where
there was no more room for his growth. He was topped
out as far as salary went, and they decided to part ways so
that Mac could start his own printing business from home.
He went to an imprinted apparel trade show, purchased a
press and all of his equipment through lease financing. Mac
already had some clientele from his dad’s shop to get him
started. We actually did really well those first few months.
It takes a learning curve to get screen printing down to a
science, and I don’t know how to do it yet. I do help with
designing artwork, whether for the shirts or for logos, web
graphics, business cards, etc. I also digitize and run the
embroidery machine. He sometimes needs my help pulling
shirts off the dryer, stacking them in correct sizing, and
folding them as he runs the press.
This is a low-overhead business once you have your
screen-printing equipment and embroidery equipment. I
especially love design
work because it only
costs us in time and
it’s really enjoyable
to do. Right now, this
full-time business
is our sole source
of income. We have
been operating it
for a couple of years,
and it pays all of our
bills each month, but
not much to spare
(variable monthly
sales volume of $2500-$5500). We live a pretty simple
life, own a modest, affordable home, and are frugal. We
look forward to our future growth and increased volume
that will come with our diligence and hard work. Mac is
constantly stretching his skills, practicing, and learning new
things about the business to stay competitive. I read lots of
marketing how-to materials, and want to grow our local-
Business in Color–at Home
By: Marisa Miller
We don’t do a large
block of learning
at one time, but in
little bits throughout
the day, as we move
through real life.
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based business into an Internet one as well. I’m interested
in niche marketing, and am developing a side business
marketing embroidered personalized goods, as well as
Christian themed t-shirts for kids.
We are eclectic homeschoolers to our four children, three
sons, aged 7, 5, and 1, and a daughter, age 3. I’m the type
of person who loves planning my own curriculum and
making use of various resources. After experimenting with
many different methods, we have settled on using the
Moore Formula for a unit study approach. My children’s
favorite books to use are Usborne Books, and we have also
purchased many books from Sonlight. We don’t do a large
block of learning at one time, but little bits throughout the
day, as we move through real life.
My husband feeds the children breakfast many mornings,
and helps keep an eye on them when they are playing in
the front yard when he’s working in the garage, but beyond
that, he’s preoccupied during business hours and the
primary responsibility is mine. When he’s “off the clock,” he
helps either prepare dinner or holds the baby while I cook.
Sometimes we all pile into the van to go pick up supplies
and shirts–it’s nice to get out of the house.
Our children help us by letting us get work done! Besides
that, they will pull shirts off the dryer and hand them to
me. As they get older, they will learn the trade as well. My
oldest son, who is seven, is learning how to design graphics
on the computer, and is also planning his own business
selling children’s books and toys. I think entrepreneurial
skills are really useful and I hope to pass that drive and
creativity to my children. We’re planning on adding a few
laying hens to our family soon, and my kids will be helping
me package and clean the eggs; “selling” them to family
and friends.
I keep our days nice and loose. We operate by rhythm,
rather than schedules. My husband is focused on his
business to-do list, and I’m focused on the school and
housekeeping to-do list. My duties are worked around if
he needs me to answer phones and email, do design work
or shirt help–meaning schoolwork can be postponed to
late afternoon if he needs me in the morning. In between
school and business, I take breaks to tidy up, run a load
of laundry, or sweep the floors. Sometimes, I can only do
design work after the kids go to bed.
I’m a compulsive list maker, due to my forgetful tendencies!
Each day, I make my list of tasks that must be accomplished
in order of importance. If I don’t write it down, I will most
likely forget or will get swept up in some other activity. We
have two large marker boards installed on the wall, and my
I hold our ultimate goal in
mind–the discipleship of our
children and helping them
come to the Lord.
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husband writes out all of his jobs in progress so I can get an
overview of what he is working on and where I can pitch in.
But what is the biggest thing? We don’t mind a little mess.
Home learning and home business take up a lot of space;
our house suffers from some serious wear and tear! I don’t
stress about it, but try to be as present in the moment
as possible and focus a lot on the kids. We do a big clean
sweep in the evenings before bed to get it ready for the
next day. We have so much fun together, and though
we don’t have much money to throw around–we are
living a dream life! I hold our ultimate goal in mind–the
discipleship of our children and helping them come to the
Lord. I am eternally-focused, and don’t mind cutting out
the extraneous. I have no problem saying “no” to things
that don’t help me meet our goals.
If anyone is interested in getting into this industry,
it’s helpful to attend imprinted apparel trade shows
and subscribe to their magazines. This will give you a
broad view of the equipment available, and the latest
technological advances. There are also how-to seminars for
beginner to expert techniques. Screen printing is a precise
skill that takes time to develop. If you are interested in
graphic design, you will need industry standard software,
such as Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. We also use
CorelDRAW. There are many free tutorials on the web, so
take advantage of them. Stay on top of trends in the visual
media by noticing design in the latest books, magazines,
and advertisements. The industry is competitive and
changes in the blink of an eye, so this business requires a
commitment to always learning and developing your skills.
Marisa Miller, and her husband Mac, are the blessed parents of four children and operate Business In Color, a
full-service design, printing and embroidery company. She also writes a Christian homeschooling blog called
MamasOnFire.com, is an independent consultant for Usborne Books At Home, and operates an informational
website for visitors to Arkansas’s Lake Ouachita called www.VisitOuachita.com. Mac and Marisa love helping
parents brainstorm ways to earn money from home, and can be reached through www.businessincolor.com
or by email at marisa@mamasonfire.com.
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I have two boys. Carter is 5 and Tyler is 19 months. My
approach to homeschooling has changed several times
this year. Since this is our first official year, we are trying
to see what fits best for us. Carter is in kindergarten. We
started with a set curriculum, but have gone through
some challenges with his vision so until that is resolved we
are really just learning through living. My husband works
from 7 a.m.-7 p.m., so he is only home with us during the
weekends.
I am a leisure travel consultant. Finding the best prices
online and getting wholesale travel prices is what I
specialize in. My company’s slogan is “5-star vacations at
2-star prices.”
I have tried several work at home opportunities, but didn’t
find anything that I was passionate about. When I was
told about WorldVentures, I knew it was perfect. One of
the reasons that I wanted to homeschool was to teach my
children by showing them the world. Since we are a single-
income family, my dream seemed impossible. Before we
had children, my husband and I traveled quite a bit, so
getting to work in the travel industry from home, for me,
couldn’t be any better.
To get started I just paid a small start-up fee which
included a personalized business website and back office,
online, training program, and sales and marketing tools to
help me promote and build my business. Also, it included
a complete online curriculum which encompassed testing,
qualification, certification, and ongoing training, as well as
host agency services, and an online sales and support desk.
I also received a lifetime Dreamtrips membership, which
offers wholesale prices on vacations for members only.
All the training is online and I work online. When the children
go to bed at night or when there is some quiet time I can
log on and work, or learn something through the virtual
training. The company pays you to help other people travel
affordably, you get special rates for your travel, you can
earn free travel, and they have many bonus plans, including
paying for your house and car each month. I am loving what
I am doing and I know the children will love doing their
school work on the beach or in front of the Eiffel Tower.
Travel as a Way of Life
By: Julie Tietz
I know the children will
love doing their school work
on the beach or in front of
the Eiffel Tower.
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Carter helps me with the business. He is my best
advertisement. He tells everyone, “My mommy is the best
travel agent in the world.” I talk to him about what I am doing
so that he understands about working at home and what it
means to have a business. I recently had a booth at a craft
fair. Carter helped with ideas on how to decorate the table,
and he helped me put together hand-outs. I love having
him involved. He knows that we are working for freedom;
freedom of family time, freedom to do what
God has called us to do, and freedom for
our family’s future. Right now my work is
providing our beach fund, but my goal is to
have enough income so that my husband
can quit his job and go do the job that he
knows God has called him to do, and to
help him fulfill his dreams of ministry.
Most of my work right now is getting the
word out, such as handing out business
cards, and talking about the benefits of my
website. As an independent representative
for World Ventures, I am responsible for all
of my own advertising and promotion. I
am getting referrals from friends and family. I have people
email me questions about traveling and I answer questions
over the phone and via email. I make travel suggestions,
help clients save money, and help them navigate the
website. They can also go to the website and book travel
anytime without my help. I spend approximately 1-2 hours
monthly writing a travel deals newsletter that I send to
my mailing list so that we can remain in constant contact.
I make calls to churches and other organizations to offer
my services for their fundraisers. Most importantly, I always
spend time with God talking about my business and what
ideas and plans that can help us prosper.
If someone would want to get in the business, they simply
purchase the start-up kit and start learning. The more you
learn about the industry the more you can earn. You can go
from a referring agent to a booking agent
or you can become a cruise specialist.
As you become more trained as a travel
agent, then you can be offered more
opportunities to work for the company
helping the home office.
I am not great at planning. On my best
days I have a planner and check off things;
my worst days I get the essentials done
then call it a day. Each night before I go to
bed I try to list all the things that need to
be done the following day, and then try
to add a few things that will help us reach
our goals, whether they are schooling,
personal growth, financial, home business, or otherwise.
For now I try to focus on the goals that I have and do
something each day to get me a step closer. We have
something we learned that has been a help. We work hard
in all areas for 90 days, giving everything our best effort.
Then we celebrate, take a vacation, and evaluate what is
working and what is not. If we are off track, that is a good
time to make a plan for the next 90 days of focus.
If I can talk to
people about
saving money on
travel, surely I can
tell them about the
best savings plan
there is . . . Jesus!
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The best thing about having a home business for me has
been the work God is doing. I have always been quiet
about my faith. I dealt with fear of rejection, but with
business if you want any success you have to deal with
talking with people fear or not. I realized that I am not
afraid anymore to talk to people, what a miracle God
performed in me. If I can talk to people about saving
money on travel, surely I can tell them about the best
savings plan there is . . . Jesus!
Julie Tietz has been married to her high school sweetheart, Chris, for eight years. They are the proud parents of
two boys Carter, 5, and Tyler, 19 months. Julie homeschools the boys while working from home as a referring
travel agent. She enjoys scrapbooking, creating memories to fill the scrapbooks, and gardening. She is on
the prayer team at church, and is passionate about encouraging women to live life to the fullest. Email Julie
at julietietz@yahoo.com, or visit her website at www.julietietz.worldventures.com to learn more and book
your next vacation. Visit Julie at www.julietietz.worldventures.biz to find out about becoming a travel agent
through WorldVentures.
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Some days I think I must be crazy to homeschool and work
at home, but most of the time I am so thankful and grateful
for the time it affords me to be with my boys and the
opportunities it gives them to understand real life.
My husband and I have been homeschooling our three
boys for seven years. Michael is now 15, Benjamin is 11, and
Caleb is 9. We live right next door to my parents’ orchard,
and to our newly opened three room
bed and breakfast. My parents’ orchard
has grown from selling fruit out of an
open-air shed, to a small store with
a bakery, attached packing shed,
cider making shed, and a playground
picnic area. When Caleb was 3 years
old, I started running school tours of
the orchard during September and
the first two weeks in October. The
school tours have been a blessing for
the orchard-- they nearly doubled
our business by simple word of mouth from parents
attending the tours with their children. I generally make
enough money myself during the “tour season” to buy
curriculum, propane, clothes, and numerous odd things
depending on the year and our needs. Needless to say, it
is just a supplementary income, but oh, so necessary! The
busiest months for our orchard are from Labor Day until
late October. Besides running tours, the whole family helps
in the store, bags apples, helps maintain the property, and
helps in the cider making process.
The summer of 2005, my mother and I attended an
agritourism conference for the orchard. One of the
speakers lectured on different ways to draw customers to
agriculture-related businesses. She
stated that in Europe, farm stays are
a common and popular occurrence,
and that there are very few actual
farm stays available in the United
States. The light came on at this point
in my mind and soon the whole
family’s minds began working. It was
decided that we would renovate
the house that my siblings and I
grew up in, and turn it into a bed
and breakfast. Mom and Dad would
live in the garage, which was remodeled by my husband
and my father into a nice one-bedroom apartment.
Incidentally, this was fine with both my parents, as they
did not need the 4000 sq. ft. home. Two years later, in the
summer of 2007, we opened our three-room barn-style
bed and breakfast.
A Bushel of Businesses
By: Jennifer Mitchell
We live right next door
to my parents’ orchard,
and to our newly
opened three room bed
and breakfast.
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My husband, Mike, and my father, Jim, did all of the
remodeling on the bed and breakfast themselves.
Our boys helped with insulation, the laying of floors,
landscaping, and clean up. While the guys were busy
with the remodeling, I had the task of setting up the
business. I purchased three or four books on the subject
of starting and running a bed and breakfast. Mike and I
stayed at a few bed and breakfasts, we went to a small
conference on running a bed and breakfast, and looked at
website after website. Fortunately, the books I purchased
gave me a list of essential tasks to do in preparation
for opening. These included funding, determining our
policies (smoking/nonsmoking, children or no children,
and if yes, which ages to allow, pricing, breakfast menus
and times, cancellation, reservations, and more!), zoning
laws, registering with the state and county, determining
amenities (hot tub, robes, soaps, snacks), selecting and
purchasing furniture, décor, and linens (sounds fun at
first—but the linen purchases got quite tedious by the
end, can you believe that?), and complying with state
and county fire and health codes. We had little problem
with fire or health codes, but many areas were more
problematic. I had to attend 16 hours of health and
sanitation training, culminating in a test and a required
certificate.
One of the biggest helps was contacting our state bed and
breakfast association. We joined as apprentice members a
few months before we opened and I attended their annual
conference; it was essential for networking and ideas.
Our association requires an every-other-year inspection,
including a list of requirements that are above and beyond
our state requirements. My involvement with the state
association has been invaluable. Amidst all of this we had
to start getting reservations, so a website was designed
with the help of one of Mike’s friends from work. We then
signed up with a couple of bed and breakfast directories,
talked to our local chamber of commerce, and worked
with our state bed and breakfast organization. We have
found the Internet to be the most beneficial venue for
advertising, aside from being visible in our community. In
less than a month we had some reservations coming in for
the summer of 2007 and we began to work furiously to get
the final details in place.
Homeschooling three boys in the midst of a working
orchard and running a fledgling bed and breakfast
business has been challenging and rewarding. We have
always schooled with an eclectic, semi-relaxed, and year-
round approach. This approach fits well with the ups
and downs of a home business. Our “official” school year
runs from mid-October until late August, with breaks
throughout for holidays and vacations. The bed and
breakfast has forced us to be much more flexible and the
boys to be more independent and responsible.
Typically, if I have guests during the week, when breakfast
must be fixed Monday through Friday mornings, I expect
Benjamin and Caleb to have their phonics practice page
done, read their required reading book for 30 minutes, and
start their math, if it is a review lesson. By the time I get
breakfast cleaned up it is sometime between 8:30 a.m. and
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10:00 a.m., depending on the breakfast time. By then the
boys and I will start our math, Bible, finish language arts,
and do our history and science together. We have used
several different curricula, but My Father’s World has been a
great fit this school year and we will continue it next year.
Michael has a much more independent schedule. He and I
meet together in the afternoon a couple of days a week to
check work, discuss assignments, and work on writing skills.
This year it has worked out that their music lessons and
the small homeschool art class that they attend are on
Tuesdays at noon. I try to also
schedule any appointments
and errands I have on Tuesday
afternoons. This usually keeps
the other afternoons less hectic.
Music practice and the Learnables
lessons are done in the afternoons,
mostly independently. I try to use
afternoons to do housework and
work that must be done in the bed
and breakfast. We also attend the homeschool activities
at a local YMCA on Thursday afternoons, which does not
conflict with incoming bed and breakfast guests. On the
off chance that a room must be cleaned earlier than 3 p.m.,
school can be moved to the afternoon, though this is much
tougher, as the boys and I are less motivated to do school
work in the afternoon. On a side note, we are currently
using Singapore Math for Benjamin and Caleb, which
we love, but by October ’08 we will have transitioned
to Teaching Textbooks, as that curriculum is much more
independent than Singapore. This will reduce my teaching
time greatly, and we can focus on writing, history, and
science. I will say that occasionally there are days that
business things come up and only the basic schoolwork
gets done, but then there are time periods that we just
fly through material when there are few interruptions,
typically during the January through April months.
The orchard is open from mid-July to mid-November. Our
family’s involvement though, runs from the end of August
until the end of October. We basically school year round,
taking September and October
off to focus on the orchard. With
that said, the boys are required to
practice their instruments, read
and do some math review every
day, in the form of worksheets
that I have prepared in August
or a computer game review. This
is done on their own and I spot
check to be sure it’s getting done.
They are also required to do some basic chores at our
home in the morning, to keep it somewhat picked up. The
rest of the day they will help bag apples, price items in
the store and bakery, clean up the picnic and playground
area, help keep up with the mowing and landscaping,
and help with apple cider jugging. Benjamin and Caleb
spend a fair amount of time playing around the orchard,
consuming apple cider slushes and apple crisp donuts.
We start a new school year around the middle of October
We have been able to be
ambassadors for God and
homeschooling through this
opportunity.
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when the orchard slows down, though weekends are still
very busy.
The orchard has been a great teaching tool for the boys
in running a business. When Michael was nine, our local
community started a small farmer’s market, so he decided
that he wanted to take peaches, apples, and cider in to
sell. He talked with his grandpa about wholesale prices,
set his prices (taking into account my transportation
fees), made signs, and had to learn to keep track of his
purchases minus what he sold. He and I had a great time
at the farmer’s market selling the produce and fielding
questions about his young age and homeschooling. Many
were leery about a nine year old handling their money, but
they quickly discovered that he was a pro. He sometimes
made over a couple hundred dollars on a Friday afternoon.
The only problem with this business was that it spoiled him
somewhat for actual work. Bagging apples, jugging cider,
and mowing were not nearly as profitable for the time
investment. The peach crop last year was nonexistent and
the apple crop was down by 50% so attending the farmer’s
market wasn’t an option. He had to actually “work” for his
money, a great learning experience despite the bad fruit
year. His brothers are planning to take it on this year, if all
goes according to plan.
Having a home-based business and homeschooling is a
challenge but it has been something that God has slowly
led us into to teach us all responsibility, hard work, unity,
and a witness for the world of a family serving God through
serving others. Many days throughout a year we are in
contact with strangers, soon to become friends, through
the orchard and bed and breakfast. Nearly all are curious
about how three generations can live on one farm, work
together daily, and (gasp) homeschool also. We have
been able to be ambassadors for God and homeschooling
through this opportunity. We have met so many different
people of different walks of life that we pray will see
something different in us than what they may see in their
everyday life. Ultimately we pray it will lead them to seek
out what makes us the way we are and realize that they can
have it also.
Jennifer Mitchell and her husband, Mike, live on a working apple and peach orchard and run the bed and breakfast
that sits in the middle of the orchard, where they homeschool their three sons. Jennifer loves everything about
the orchard, good books, scrapbooking, and raising boys. Visit her website at
www.okawvalleyorchardinn.com and www.okawvalleyorchard.com.
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The need to work from home stems from several sources.
Whether your family enjoys the extra money of an at-home
business, or chooses to run an empire from their dining
room table as the sole source of income, many families are
finding that at-home businesses fit right into their busy
schedules. Whatever the reason, the key to making the at-
home business venture work for you is to simply make it
work for you! The business has to be something you enjoy
or have an interest in. It has to fit your schedule – taking
into consideration the children, housework, ministry
activities, extracurricular events, and personal time. It also
has to be something realistic for your time and talents.
Many great ideas have come and gone because the person
behind the wheel simply didn’t have enough wind in their
sails (cash, talent, time, energy, etc.) to go any further and
had to abandon ship before the whole crew sank.
When my husband and I clearly sensed God’s calling to
homeschool our children, we weren’t surprised. “Never
say never” is a motto that will almost always come back
to bite you. Not so long ago, I would have been one of
the first to say, “People that homeschool their children
are crazy.” I guess God wanted me to join the ranks of the
“crazy,” because we believe He certainly called us to bring
me and our children home. We first tried the curricula that
so many well-meaning veteran moms had recommended,
but these just didn’t fit us. Coming from a teaching
background, I knew what I was looking for, I just couldn’t
find it all in one package. We even took one semester “off”
during this time of searching for our style, and my two
older children went back to public school. Within three
weeks, we all missed being home learning together, so
we quickly returned to homeschooling at the semester
break. We enjoy textbooks, workbooks, hands-on projects,
craft and art ideas, and simply communicating about the
world around us. With several children all at different ages
and stages, this eclectic style of education works best for
us. We had found our niche. I had to dismiss the idea of
trying to fit the mold of what I thought a homeschooling
mom looked like, acted like, talked like, and taught like.
Most importantly, I just needed to be me and embrace the
individuality of each of my children.
Books From the Book Lover
By: Camille Lancaster
I enjoy direct sales and knew
this type of business was easy
to start, and could produce
the quick income we needed.
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Not long after we had found our niche, my husband had
surgery. A common, no-nonsense procedure went bad and
turned into weeks of expensive medical treatments and
a second surgery. Needless to say, that left us with some
very unexpected and costly medical bills. Our ship was
beginning to sink. I struggled with staying home during
this time–knowing in the back of my mind that I could go
back to work and help make ends meet since I am trained
in a highly specialized field that pays well. However, we
had previously made the commitment to our family that I
should leave the workforce and educate our five children.
Unfortunately, that decision didn’t hold water with the
hospital’s patient account office!
I began to look into opportunities to work from home. I
enjoy direct sales and knew this type of business was easy
to start, and could produce the quick income we needed. I
spent some time searching online for quality companies I
knew were reputable and didn’t require a large investment
in the beginning. In my early years as a speech-language
pathologist, I was introduced to some great educational
children’s books by Usborne Books. I used these books to
teach beginning speech sounds and language concepts
to developing preschoolers and continued to acquire a
few books through the years for my own children. I was
introduced to the idea of working from home with Usborne
Books a few years ago, and had posted this information in
the back of my mind. As I began to look for work-at-home
resources, an opportunity to work in my area with Usborne
Books presented itself and we decided it might be a good
time to pursue the idea of a work-from-home business.
I now find myself working from home as an educational
consultant for Usborne Books.
Because of my former experience, this is a product I truly
believe in. I didn’t just sign up to sell the first thing that
came along with the hopes of producing income. I knew
picking the right company and product was crucial to my
success. Choosing the wrong at-home business would be
like trying to swim against the waves and I would quickly
be overwhelmed. As I began making my first sales with
Usborne Books to friends and family, I saw how easily
these books fit right along with our homeschooling goals,
and many were titles we already had on our bookshelves.
My kids love the books and are excited to see the orders
come in every week for our customers. The children go
with me if I need to set up a display at a daycare center,
they promote the business by working our booth at local
events, and they help with the daily tasks of filling orders
and accompanying me to the post office. This has become
more of a family business and I see the need to train my
children to be prepared to do what they need to do when
times get tough. We didn’t expect this financial hardship
to come our way and I can’t guarantee something like this
won’t happen again. I also can’t assume my children will
never be in need during their adult life. So, I am thankful for
this chance to teach them how to work from home.
In the years ahead, unless some major changes are made
in our country’s social and economic structure, it will
be increasingly harder to live on one income. I want my
daughters to embrace the idea of building their home and
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raising their children, but I also understand they may need
the skills to run a home business in order to do this. I have
incorporated them into every aspect of my Usborne Books
business. From labeling books, sorting orders, and entering
email addresses in the computer, they are learning valuable
on-the-job training skills for their future.
Currently, I earn about $200-$250 per month and have
received several free books to use at home or as part of my
business inventory. There have also been cash bonuses and
additional percentages added to my monthly income. My
goal is to make a steady $400 per month. I realize this is not
a get-rich-quick scheme, so I have to nurture my business
and spend some time with it. I fit it in when the kids are
reading independently, during nap time, or late at night.
My husband and children know that a certain amount
of time each week has to be devoted to working with
Usborne Books but the fact remains that even though now
I spend part of my day working, I am home–right where I
need to be.
Camille Lancaster was a speech-language pathologist for over 10 years before coming home to educate her five
children who are currently ages 11, 9, 5, 2, and 2 . Camille lives in the flatlands of southeastern Missouri and loves
a good game of tetherball. Her family is actively involved in Children and Family Ministry and they hope to
encourage other Christian families to be all that God desires them to be. She is the author of ConverStation and
ConverStation Graphic Expression Activity Workbook (Say It Right, 2005) and also enjoys writing articles for
homeschooling families giving practical advice on how to teach speech and language skills at home. To learn
more about Camille Lancaster and the Usborne Book business opportunities in your area, visit her website at
www.usbornebooksforfree.com. Her email address is thelancasterfamily@yahoo.com.
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Give me a chance, and I’d have a farm and do a petting zoo
and the whole works. Wow . . . that would be fun. But God,
in His wisdom, has laid out different plans for my life. He
called me to be a pastor’s wife and a mom. I have a pet-
care business, and I raise small animals for the pet market.
Caring for pets is just a natural extension of who I am. My
pet-care business is for furred, household pets. I raise and
sell rabbits, guinea pigs, mice, and fish for the pet trade.
Here’s a bit of history: before we got married six years ago,
I raised guinea pigs and mice and had a pet-care business.
I had dogs that I walked every lunch hour and regular
pet-sitting clients throughout the year. When I married, I
moved my pet-care business (some of my clients traveled
with me which I thought was cool), and I stopped doing
mice. I continued the guinea pigs until two years later
when our boar (a male) died. Then I had our son, and life
seemed too busy to take care of piggies.
I have one son. He is just shy of three years old, and I plan
to homeschool him more formally as he gets older. Some
of his education will be directed learning, and some will
be child-based. I like a lot about the classical form of
education, but I find Latin daunting.
For right now, nothing is better than a child for child-
proofing rabbits and guinea pigs, so he plays with the
youngsters regularly. He also helps with construction work
and putting new litter/bedding in cages. He feeds the fish
too. As he gets older, he’s learning to help feed the small
animals, and will eventually learn to plan breeding and
such like.
My husband is a pastor and that takes him out of the house
a lot. He does stay with my son while I work at my part-time
job on Fridays. Dad is starting, as our son gets older, to do
more stuff with him, but most of the time mommy helps!
I started doing mice again in 2007, in early winter. I moved
them outside into homemade housing. They do really well out
there. My rabbit business started with two Lops that a fellow
gave me in return for connecting him with a meat rabbit
person, who is someone who raises rabbits primarily for the
meat or human food market. I raise rabbits predominately
for the pet people, so this means my rabbits are a bit fancier,
smaller, and lighter boned. Along the way I had other people
give me rabbits, and my business has blossomed.
Raising Critters and Kids
By: Annette Vellenga
. . . nothing is better than a child
for child-proofing rabbits and
guinea pigs . . .
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I now have 10 breeding does and two bucks. I sell my
bunnies for $10 each for mixed breeds, and $15-$20 each for
purebreds. If I had a bigger place, I’d sell cages too; but we
have no room for such storage here. I also sell to the raw-fed
pet market for $2 a pound. My rabbits are the types that I
like and don’t find too labor-intensive–Mini Rexes, Lops, and
Dwarf rabbits. I’m just starting to consider Dutch rabbits, too.
I have also recently restarted selling guinea pigs.
My pet-care business involves me taking the occasional
household pet into my house and even doing some in-
home care. I work my life around the needs of the pet client
and the needs of my own household; most of the time it is
really easy to figure out.
My clients vary from the “I’m getting home late and the dog
needs to be let out” to the “I’m on vacation and someone
needs to care for the dog.” I have some people where I just go
to their homes and feed their cats or care for small critters, and
even water their plants or do the insurance-required house
check. This is usually a once-a-day thing, which happens
mostly around holidays and during the summer.
I plan my day according to the needs placed before me. Do
we have any extra pets on the premises, are there clients
I need to travel for, or does my husband need me to do
something specific? Most of my days are similar. I do my
devotions, walk my dog, care for the critters (feed and
water), check on babies, if any, all before my son is awake.
I’ll go into the house to get my son up, check on hubby,
and make breakfast. Usually mid-morning, after dishes are
done, is critter cleaning out time, which I do every three
days. I do the critter check, feed, and water again just
before supper in cold months and after supper in the warm
months. Baby critters are people-trained in the afternoon,
usually by my toddler. If I have people over who like baby
rabbits or guinea pigs and aren’t dressed fancy, I’ll ask them
if they want to pet a bunny for a while.
I do ads on www.kijiji.com every six weeks or so, and that
takes a good hour. I usually do this after my son goes to
bed. Every other month or so, we take any animals that
haven’t sold to the local city market for the small animal
sale. I offer limited delivery which helps with the selling. I
do most of my advertising around town via flyers, word of
mouth, the Internet, via www.kijiji.com, and my webpage.
My husband is good at keeping me on track and just asking
questions. He helps with ideas for the webpage, and he’ll
be making buttons for me. He also redesigned my logo.
I am in process of learning the art of selling small animal
litter for gardens. I haven’t quite worked that all out yet
though so there are lots of bugs to figure.
My pet-care business involves me
taking the occasional household
pet into my house and even doing
some in-home care.
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I suppose if someone didn’t know anything about critters,
and was interested in starting a business like this one, he
might have a steep learning curve. But in reality, all you
need is just some good common sense and the know-how
to ask questions.
I did have some learning to do before starting my business.
I had to learn how to do computer stuff with www.kijiji.com,
which is an online classified ad service associated with
eBay. I also had to learn how to build rabbit cages and
find the self-confidence to try! I had to learn new ways of
housing the rabbits, and how to help people with building
or purchasing a good, long-term rabbit cage. I even had to
learn what I could or could not do when it came to the raw-
food pet food trade. There are some legal restrictions when
it comes to processing feeder animals.
For now, this is a very small business. I would like it to grow
larger at some point, but am happy right now where it is.
Currently I make about $50 a month (some months more
like $300), and that works for me. I don’t want to have
expenses too high either. The animals need to pay for
themselves. I would like to eventually make enough that
I don’t feel compelled to work at the fast food joint. That
means making $300 a month would be good. Right now
the bit I make helps make ends meet.
Annette Vellenga is a pastor’s wife to Jim and mother to an almost three year old son. Like all mothers of
very young children, Annette is a homeschooling mom already, but she plans to continue homeschooling as
her son grows older. She likes good books of all sorts (though nothing scary), walking, critters of most sorts,
routine with planned spontaneity, family, scrapbooking, gardening, cycling, and other outdoor activities.
She runs her pet business, AT Home Pets, from her home in Ontario, Canada. Visit Annette on the web at
www.freewebs.com/athomepets or her blog at athomepets.blogspot.com
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HomeWork:
Computer Based
The next two chapters deal with computer-related businesses. While it is
true that most business these days is conducted at least partially using a
computer, these homeschooling moms use the computer itself as the basis
for their work. One sells products over the Internet and one supports and
maintains computer networks as a freelance technician.

Sometimes the best journeys are ones
you never plan on taking!
In September of 2007, my husband and
I brought our three children home from
a Christian school after they finished
fourth, third and second grades,
respectively. We expected to be blessed because we were
being obedient to God’s leading, but we weren’t prepared
for just how amazing an experience homeschooling would
be. Our family is much happier, less stressed, and definitely
planning on homeschooling for many years to come. By
every measure, our first year was a resounding success.
Our homeschooling approach is very simple: pray, and ask
God to lead us to the right curriculum! We found Sonlight
and immediately knew it was God’s answer for us. As a
recovering perfectionist and typical “box-checker,” Sonlight
met all our needs. Probably the two most important
features were the pre-planned instructor’s guides (just
check those boxes!) and literature-rich cores. While we
aren’t rigid, we do have a regular schedule and try to stick
to it. We usually begin our days at 9 a.m., take an hour for
lunch and then finish around 2 or 3 p.m.
My husband, Chris, works Monday through Friday as
a network administrator at a local college, so he isn’t
available to teach or actively
participate in our homeschool.
However, he likes to come home for
lunch each day, and usually walks
through the door at night just before
5 p.m. He handles Little League and
I handle dance class. We attend as
many of the kids’ games, dance competitions, and activities
together as we can.
Chris is amazingly supportive of my home business. He
does the laundry at night so I can work on my laptop, and
he’s more than happy to take over household duties if I
need extra time to get business taken care of (including
cooking, transporting, and managing the kids). It’s not
just because he wants to be supportive; we need the extra
income, and he recognizes the fact that I just can’t do it all.
I’ve been working from home since 1999, doing various
things in various capacities. I began as a medical
transcriptionist, training at night when my full-time job was
over. The day I quit my full-time job to bring my infant and
toddler home from daycare is still one of my best ever!
I had some advance notice that my transcription job would
run out in December of 2002, so I began searching for other
ways to make money online. I found two: content websites
My Life as an Internet “Mom-preneur”
By: Cate Brizzell
Sometimes the best
journeys are ones you
never plan on taking!
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and pay-per-click arbitration using Google Adwords. By
March of 2003 I had launched www.home-budget-help.com
and opened my Adwords account.
I trained myself to build websites using a product called
SiteBuildIt! by Sitesell, based in Quebec, Canada. I spent
around $300 to get all the tools I needed to build, manage
and market a website, including hosting and domain
registration. The purchase included a step-by-step guide
on not just how to build the site, but how to plan it, and
how to develop site content that would generate traffic
in search engines. It worked, and before long my budget
website was growing and I was earning some affiliate
income. (Affiliate income comes from merchants paying
a commission when buyers come from your website via
specially coded links or banners.)
(Editor’s Note: to learn more about TOS’ affiliate program
go to www.thehomeschoolmagazine.com/Affiliates.)
My greatest income at the time came from the Adwords
arbitration, or pay-per-click advertising.
However, in January of 2005, Google changed some
policies regarding Adwords and my income was greatly
affected. Only the larger merchants were getting their ads
shown frequently enough to earn customers. I needed
income, and I needed it fast, so I took a job as a bookkeeper
for a family friend.
A year later, I quit that job and became a virtual assistant
for another family friend involved in online marketing.
Seven days a week, I answered his email, took customer
service phone calls, worked on search engine marketing,
wrote articles, developed products, shipped goods and
basically did anything else he needed done. It didn’t
take long for me to realize that there was great potential
in packaging and selling information on the Internet. I
decided to become an “info-preneur.”
Since my husband and I had lost over sixty pounds in
less than a year with our own special eating strategy—
that didn’t involve dieting—I decided to write a book
describing our system and our experience. I wrote the book
and titled it “Real People Don’t Diet.” I then built a website
www.RealPeopleDontDiet.com, to distribute the book and
started a weekly newsletter called “Don’t Diet Digest.” With
my current employer’s help, it was launched in February of
2007 to his website customers.
Soon, I was earning upwards of $1,000 a month in sales.
By the summer, as it became clear we were going to
homeschool, it also became clear I could no longer
continue my salaried job as a work-from-home virtual
. . . before long my budget website
was growing and I was earning
some affiliate income.
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assistant. I quit after a year-and-a-half. We trusted God to
meet our financial needs, since we were confident that He
was the one leading us to homeschool our children.
Once homeschool began, we realized that my business
would have to generate more income in order to make
ends meet. We decided that content websites would be
the best solution, since they can generate passive income
and don’t require set hours or a lot of customer interaction.
I decided to keep my budgeting site and re-launch it as
www.home-budget-help.com, as well as develop two other
site concepts I’d thought about for some time.
We have just begun planning for this new phase in my
home business, trying to think of ways to free up large
chunks of time each month for me to build site content
and hopefully traffic. We decided to homeschool year-
round and take at least one week off each month. We also
decided that I should do “work retreats” at my parents’
home nearby.
While my current work-from-home income wasn’t always
enough to fulfill our financial goals, all my various home
businesses got us through some difficult times, and
enabled me to stay home with our children, something I
daily appreciate after having had to leave them in daycare
for over two years.
It tickles me sometimes to think that I always said I’d
want to work for a paycheck versus having my own
business, because it was “too risky.” I shied away from
entrepreneurship classes while in college earning my
business degree. I never enjoyed sales jobs and loved my
strait-laced accounting work. Yet, here I am, for over nine
years now, doing my own thing and working my own
business!
The biggest obstacle to growing my business has been
time management. It’s good to try and manage one’s time;
it’s another thing entirely to be honest about how much
time you actually have to manage. Most times I feel I’ve
been overly optimistic about the amount of time I’ve had
available to actually work, and as a result, I feel constantly
guilty over what isn’t getting done.
There’s age-old work-at-home advice that says you need
to treat your business like it’s a business. I think most
entrepreneurs believe they’re an exception to that rule.
I know I did—for a while. But it’s true. Unless you create
office space, unless you create office hours, and unless you
create office rules, you won’t get much done.
Another important aspect to success is self-discipline and
self-motivation. Without a boss around to set deadlines
or check up on your work, it’s essential that a work-from-
I always said I’d want to
work for a paycheck versus
having my own business,
because it was “too risky.”
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home business owner have the ability to set their own
deadlines, create task lists, and then get the work done. A
home office then becomes incredibly important, because
it’s a lot easier to get work done at a desk than it is to try
and finish an article while sitting on the couch with the
television on Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader? with your
homeschooled kids shouting out the (hopefully) correct
answers.
Because I had success early on, I’ve always believed it’s
possible to make a very good living from home. I’ve seen
others make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year doing
what I do. Knowing it’s possible—and knowing that with God
nothingis impossible—makes it easier to have confidence in
my ability to generate income as an entrepreneur.
Many times friends and acquaintances will ask how they
can get started doing what I do from home; I find that a
tough question to answer. What’s right for me isn’t right for
everyone. In fact, I am convinced that my current business
is a God-inspired, unique plan for me and my family. He
has given me a passion for what I do and I feel completely
fulfilled while I’m doing it. I frequently pray and ask His
advice on business matters. I ask for creative wisdom and
give God all the glory when things go well.
I firmly believe that if God wants moms to work from home,
He is more than able to provide the perfect business plan.
He will make a way, even if it seems there is no way.
So this work-at-home journey I’m on has taken many
unforeseen and unplanned twists and turns, and I’m sure
there will be many more down the road. But having done
the 9-to-5 routine, I’m so grateful to the Lord for putting
me on this road, a road that allows my husband and
children to walk beside me as I use my talents and gifts to
generate income that blesses my family.
Cate Brizzell (cate@realpeopledontdiet.com) is a full-time homeschooler of three and part-time “mom-preneur”
from upstate New York. She holds a B.S. in business management and runs or edits several websites, including
www.RealPeopleDontDiet.com and www.Home-Budget-Help.com. Her hobbies and interests include
reading, current events, golf, scrapbooking and checking blogs on an hourly basis! Visit her latest site at
www.MomsMakeMoneyOnline.com.
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Six years ago I was pregnant with my second child and my
husband and I knew full-time daycare just was not going to
serve our family well. We had no idea how right we were.
Our oldest daughter had been an easy baby who stayed
with a family friend until she was eighteen months while
I worked full-time. When they moved, we were able to
arrange our work schedules to get by with part-time
daycare. I worked four days, and my husband worked four
days. We each took a day at home. The second pregnancy
threw the proverbial monkey wrench into our schedule.
There were no options for part-time infant daycare and we
really didn’t like the idea of it anyway. In my heart I knew
that my full-time job must end. We didn’t know how we
would make ends meet, but we had a deep sense that
God would provide. As it turned out, our second daughter
was not the flexible, social, loving child that our first one
was. Daycare would have truly destroyed her identity and
security.
A week after I turned in my notice, a former co-worker
called me. News traveled fast through our professional
grapevine, and she had a request. Her husband’s law firm
needed help. Would I be willing to do some contract work
for them? Sure! Why not? Thus began a business that has
grown beyond anything I could have planned or marketed.
Now, I am a business network manager for four small
companies and three smaller business offices, supporting
more than 60 users. I have flexibility to take my daughters
to dance classes and play dates, but I also remain on-call
seven days a week. I have remote access into most of my
client computers to provide support and maintenance at
any time, but I also spend about two days a week on-site
at individual offices. I handle hardware purchases, new
workstation setup, updates, and software upgrades as
routine projects. I also get called in for emergencies, such
as a crashed computer or server, virus/spyware infections,
Computer Network Management
(Mostly) From Home
By: Georganne Schuch
I am a business network
manager for four small
companies and three smaller
business offices, supporting
more than 60 users.
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and, most recently, a blacklisted domain due to an infected
email which forwarded hundreds of emails before we
could contain it. To de-list the domain and return email
functionality, I had to run several virus and spyware scans
on all the computers, but particularly the infected one,
to certify that the office was clean and a safe sender once
again. (Note: Many Internet service providers and email
hosts subscribe to services which maintain lists of email
domains which appear to be spammers. To be blacklisted
means that your email domain is added to the list of
suspected spammers and banned from sending email. Let’s
just say it’s not good for business to be blacklisted.)
I did not go to school to be a computer technician. In
fact, my bachelor’s degree is in mass communication, and
my master’s is in business. But in my work as a technical
writer, I picked up a lot of troubleshooting expertise. I
don’t know the answer to every problem, but I know who
to call and how to research solutions. A business associate
for another network company who covers work for me
when I need additional help has told me several times
that he knows when he gets a call from me that it’s a real
problem because I do a better job troubleshooting than
some of his certified technicians. I always laugh because
most certification tracks only teach students how to follow
a script based on generalized problems. Real problems
never fit into that box. Technical know-how is only part of
the equation. A good technician should also have good
business sense. For instance, one of my clients paid a high
level certified technician from a scanner/copier company
(you know the big machines that do everything but make
your coffee) for five to eight hours of work on a project that
never seemed to work right. I came in and fixed it in a little
over an hour. He wasn’t looking past the main issue to see
all the little things that had to work right to support the
final result.
My children stay with another homeschool family on
one day, while my husband’s four-day workweek allows
them to spend the other day with him. We will welcome
our fourth child in November. Our family dynamics have
changed beyond anything we could have dreamed six
years ago. Homeschooling is the priority for our family. We
turn down lots of group activities and fun trips to make
sure our school is done. Mondays are our activity day with
piano and dance lessons. School is kept to the basics and
sometimes done in the waiting room of the dance studio.
Tuesdays I work, so the girls sometimes take independent
work to the babysitter’s house. Wednesdays and Thursdays
are very intensive school days, and Fridays are catch up and
test days with Dad. We essentially school three-and-a-half
days a week. This year we worked in six-week semesters:
six weeks of school and one week off. My original plan
was to do a field trip or two on our week off, but two
family emergencies torpedoed that in the fall. Next year,
I did not go to school to be a
computer technician.
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I am going to try nine weeks of school with a two week
break (one week to catch our breath and one week to do
something).
I schedule our daily time in periods. Because I may receive
a support call at 7:30 (a.m. or p.m.), I group activities and
projects into two-to three-hour increments. We start school
at 9 a.m., so all preparation activities, such as eating and
dressing, must be done by then. We mix workbooks with
assigned reading, projects, and unit studies. From 9 a.m. to
11 a.m., my third grader completes her independent work–
handwriting, spelling, language arts, independent reading,
and math. I help as needed. I spend about 45 minutes with
my kindergartner sometime during this period. We work
as a team through each of her subjects. She is very smart,
but needs lots of coaching and encouragement. I think this
time will build the confidence and diligence to work more
independently later.
After lunch, we spend some one-on-one time reading or
working through problems from the morning subjects. All
three of us do geography and science as a unit study. Our
afternoons are very loosely scheduled. It gives me time to
work if I need, and the girls get a lot of outside time when
the weather is nice.
Now, where does my very active three year old fit in? Well,
my five year old keeps her occupied for a while if I am
working with my 9 year old. Then, they trade off with my
oldest corralling her while I work with the kindergartner.
Next year I will work in some coloring pages and read
aloud for her. She will not let us leave her out! In the
afternoon, she still takes a nap or at least has a rest time
while we do our small group activities.
After school, everyone has chores to do. Five people (soon
to be six) living in a small space, make a lot of mess! We
start dinner preparations around 5:00 p.m., though my
husband is not usually home before 7:00 p.m. We just know
that when Dad gets home, it’s time to play! He is not all
fun and no work, though. He helps with dinner cleanup,
bedtime, school reviews, sick watches, and whatever else
happens to come flying around the corner. Most days are
challenging, but we have all learned to adapt. The secret to
making it work is just to start over when it doesn’t.
We are grateful for the extra money my work provides. I
keep my overhead expenses as low as possible, though
being in the technology field does require that I own
and know how to operate an assortment of gadgets. My
income provides for us in several areas. First, I tithe 10
percent of my monthly gross income to several mission
organizations. My business is totally in God’s hands, so
the first fruits go back to Him. Second, I take about 15 to
20 percent of the monthly gross and divide it between
retirement, savings, and HSAs (Health Savings Accounts.)
Then, I pay my overhead expenses--taxes, broadband
Now, where does my very active
three year old fit in?
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Internet, wireless phone, and other services. Finally, I roll over
money to our checking account to help pay for extracurricular
activities, such as dance, piano, and art. It also gives our
spending a little breathing room beyond the basics.
I did not start out to build a business. I just did the best
job I could with each client I worked with. Then, they
referred me to someone else. I have parted ways with
a few clients that were not good fits for my schedule or
expertise. I cannot do everything, and I try not to build
false expectations about my abilities or availability. I am
continually amazed at how God works out the details of
projects and scheduling issues.
If someone else wants to do what I do from home, I
suggest starting small. Technical education is important,
but it does not replace experience and business sense. Find
a small office which will let you work with them as they
build a network. Learn all aspects of their business and
how it affects their computer needs. Help them set long-
term goals and make informed decisions. I find most small
businesses do not grow with a plan in mind, and then find
themselves looking at a large cash outlay to implement a
network which will support a suddenly booming business.
In this role, an independent network manager can fill a
niche that most large network companies will not.
I know I could not work full-time with three children. It is
unacceptable to us for anyone else to have the responsibility
of raising, influencing, guiding, and loving our children. They
have plenty of interaction with extended family and friends,
but no one is or will be their primary caregivers but us, their
parents. And should my job ever usurp that directive, I will
gladly sacrifice it rather than my children.
Georganne Schuchand her husband, Brad, live in Central Texas. They have three children, Isabel (9), Alyssa (6), and
Olivia (3), and one child due December 1. Georganne homeschools and owns a network management business,
specializing in small business needs. Visit Georganne’s blog for tips and thoughts on mixing homeschool and
work at www.homeschoolblogger.com/coffeedogz.
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HomeWork:
Creative Writing
Writing seems to be as inescapable as the computer in the business
world. The following homeschooling moms use writing, printing, and/or
publishing as the source of their business income. Many of these authors
write for the homeschool market. You’ve heard the saying–write what
you know!

Working from home has been a desire in our family for
about ten years. Three years ago it became a reality. We
were living in Toronto, Ontario. This mega-city of five
million is very unfriendly in general, and certainly no less so
to homeschoolers. Having four children, we were stared at
constantly.
Our city was so unfriendly to homeschoolers that our
homeschooling group had to first meet us to make sure
we were not “infiltrating” their group. Raising our children
within this environment was not ideal to say the least.
I started praying that the Lord would move us to the
countryside. My husband, Peter, said this was impossible,
as his job was
high-tech and
could only be
found within a
large city.
The Lord and I had different ideas. I started praying in
September of 2004. By December of 2004 my French
program, The Easy French, was released. I felt the Lord had
gotten me to write this foreign language program for two
reasons. First, it was to help parents prepare their children
for the great commission. Second, it was to help fund my
ministry, Shalom Ranch Ministries.
Shalom Ranch Ministries had been birthed back in 1995
with a desire to use horses in order to reach at-risk kids. I
did not know how I was going to do it, but I did know that
one day I would. In prayer, I asked the Lord how I would
fund such a big endeavor. I also did not know how I would
ever be able to run such a ranch in an expensive area like
Toronto. The price for land was way out of our range.
I had a feeling that we were going to purchase land in
March of 2005. I had no idea where, but just had the date in
mind. We searched the area, but there was always a reason
why we could not purchase. The price was the main barrier.
I do believe that going out and searching was part of our
step of faith.
In January 2005, Peter was approached by a client located
in Las Vegas. This client wanted to do extra work that
Peter’s business did not offer. Peter started working part-
time for this client. I felt this might be our ticket out of
Toronto. I bathed this idea in prayer and waited.
March of 2005 brought our first homeschool convention.
The convention was in Saskatchewan. That meant a 32-
hour drive with four children plus our luggage and my
French program. We decided to go for it, so much so that
we decided to also turn the trip into a house-hunting trip.
The Sherwood Journey
By: Marie Filion Sherwood and Peter Sherwood
The Lord and I had
different ideas.
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I say this was a step of faith because we had absolutely
no money. You see, our first house had been a fixer-
upper, but was located in a wonderful area in Ottawa
and boasted six bedrooms. After three years, we had
renovated almost every part of the house. It was looking
like a wonderful home where we could possibly raise our
family. But the Lord had other ideas. We ended up moving
to southern Ontario for a new job, selling our first home
and making about $100,000 in the process. This allowed us
to purchase a beautiful four-bedroom home in a very nice
neighborhood. The house was professionally decorated
with the most beautiful garden and play area for the
children. Unfortunately, Peter’s new company downsized
his position, and he had to take work in Toronto. We rented
a home there, as the Lord prompted us to do something
that had been on our hearts for some time: we gave our
house away to a young pastoral couple. This filled us with
great joy, but left us with no savings or money for a down
payment.
We enjoyed our trip out to Saskatchewan, and did fairly
well at our first convention. We also put in an offer on a
property that was 160 acres with a reasonably-sized house.
The offer was, of course, conditional on financing. I told
the Lord that I loved these odds as it meant that He had to
do it, because we certainly could not. We needed close to
$10,000 to be able to complete the purchase; for what we
owned, it might as well have been one million dollars.
We arrived back from our 32-hour trip exhausted, but
confident that God was going to perform a miracle. Three
days later we received our miracle. A girlfriend that I had
not told about our trip called me. She told me that I was
not going to believe this but, she had $10,000 for us. She
felt that the Lord wanted us to have it. I shouted, “Praise the
Lord we are going to Saskatchewan.”
Peter needed to secure enough hours in order to survive.
He approached his client in Las Vegas. His client had
had an increase of work for Peter. The timing could have
only been the Lord’s. This meant that Peter was going
to be working for himself. At the same time, sales of my
French program were steadily increasing, and we were
being very well received at several other conventions we
attended. Everything combined made the decision to
move out west an easy one.
We moved to Saskatchewan in May of 2005. We love
the freedom of living on a property. Peter was able to
run his business from our home, the kids were in a safe
Running a ranch was a dream
and a vision that the Lord
had given to me so many years
before, but it had looked like an
impossible dream.
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environment with plenty of running and playing room,
and homeschoolers were not seen as three headed aliens.
Even breathing fresh air was a new phenomenon for us.
The rolling prairies with the big sky made us appreciate
His beauty in a new way. The blue flax fields and the bright
yellow canola fields looked like an ocean as the wind blew
the crops back and forth.
We have since been able to purchase American Bashkir
Curly horses. These wonderful creatures enjoy hanging
out with their human herd almost as much as their horse
friends. They are bold, brave, and easy keepers. Their
hooves are hard and their brains are sharp. They reflect the
homeschooling life of freedom, hospitality, independence,
and wholesomeness.
I have an Aboriginal heritage that goes alongside my
French roots. Our horses ended up being descendents of
Chief Sitting Bull’s herd. We moved to an area where there
is a large Aboriginal population. We could not have known
all of this before we moved.
I now work through the schools with two different groups;
the first being a native group and the second a learning-
disabled group. I grew up with severe learning disabilities
and this is a way to give back to these children. I also
have the privilege of sharing my story of hope at different
homeschooling conventions.
I am still able to homeschool and make the hours work for
my family. I am doing the Lord’s work with being at home
with my children, and still helping the hurting children of
our area. One of the benefits of self-employment is the
ability to make your own hours. This life also allows me to
continue developing my foreign language programs. I have
since added Spanish Level I, French Junior, French Level II,
French Level IA, IB and IIA. Spanish Level II is out very soon, as
is French Level IIB. French Level IIIA and IIIB will be out in 2009.
Running a ranch was a dream and a vision that the Lord
had given to me so many years before, but it had looked
like an impossible dream. You see, I am allergic to horses.
Some would have questioned my hearing the Lord.
How could He choose a woman for such a job who was
allergic to these animals? As a teen I used to be on lots of
prescription drugs in order to be able to ride. His grace
always sustained me. Curly horses are hypo-allergenic, so
again He took care of that impossibility.
It was funny how I was drawn to the curly horse before
I knew they were hypo-allergenic. I believe it to be
another example of how we must trust His process of our
circumstances. I used to try to control the things around
me; being so afraid of loss of control in my life. I have
learned that He controls the process when we let Him.
When we take ourselves out of the equation and allow
things to develop as we seek His face, that is when we see
real growth, real direction, and real destiny.
It seems that my life has been full of impossibilities, but
Scripture tells us that what is impossible with man is
possible with God. Praise the Lord! I know that without Him
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we could not have succeeded. I believe that many times
the Lord gives us futures that we could not possibly attain
without Him. In so doing He guarantees that we trust and
depend on Him.
We now run Great Commission Languages, Shalom
Ranch Ministries, Shalom Ranch and Morrack
Consulting. These businesses support our ministry and
our household. We also run an “I Love Horses Because . . .”
contest every year. This contest allows us to provide a foal
as a prize and raise money for the ranch program. Last year
the foal was won by Michelle Whiten of Georgia. Michelle
got to have Rojalita as a forever friend. You can check out
the contest at www.ShalomRanch.org. You can learn more
about Commission Languages at www.TheEasyFrench.
com and www.TheEasySpanish.com. Information about
Morrack Consulting is located at www.Morrack.com.
We continue to go through trials and successes. The
Lord takes us through everything. He was faithful to get
us here and He is faithful to continue to take us further
down the path. My path has led me to start working
with a wonderful Christian lady named Nancy Thomas
(www.attachment.org). I have started running the equine
program at their Saskatchewan and Texas camps. We work
with severely emotionally disturbed children. Most of these
children have Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). When
people now ask me what I do for a living I answer that I
homeschool and snatch children from the devil’s hands.
The camps help accomplish this end. I am so happy that I
took those steps of faith three years ago.
I want to encourage others to find their destinies. I
do believe that homeschooling allows us to help our
children accomplish this end, but I also believe that many
homeschoolers also have a work that the Lord wants us to
accomplish. Trust Him as He directs you to what He made
you to do. I often say that what I do is who I am. What an
honor and privilege to be able to say that I am living what I
was designed to do.
My path is not finished. I have known since I was 14 years
old that my path would end in Tulsa, Oklahoma. My
ancestors were part of the Trail of Tears that ended in the
Oklahoma territory. Some of my tribe is located in Tulsa. I
feel that the end of my “trail of tears” will also be in Tulsa. I
have named one of my horses Tulsa as an act of faith. She
is one of the most beautiful horses I have ever known, but
she is also one of the most abused. As she has finally found
It seems that my life has been full
of impossibilities, but Scripture
tells us that what is impossible
with man is possible with God.
Praise the Lord!
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rest at Shalom Ranch, so I will find my rest once we get
to Tulsa. I have moved 40 times and long to settle where
the Lord desires. Every time the cloud has moved, I have
moved. It has not been an easy journey, but I believe it has
been a necessary one. The spiritual battles that I win allow
me to gain territory, perspective and victory in order to
further help more children.
My questions to you are, “What is your destiny?” and “Who
will lead you there?”
Marie Filion Sherwood is the president of Great Commission Languages, (www.TheEasyFrench.com and
www.TheEasySpanish.com), a homeschooling foreign language publishing company that promotes and helps
parents prepare their children for the Great Commission. She has homeschooled her four children since 1996.
Marie is also the executive director of Shalom Ranch Ministries (www.ShalomRanch.org). Shalom Ranch
Ministries is funded by Great Commission Languages. Marie uses horses to get through to at-risk children
and youth. She also works with Nancy Thomas of www.attachment.org in reaching Reactive Attachment
Disordered children and youth at some of Nancy’s family camps. Marie runs the Equine Facilitated Mental
Health program at these camps. Her husband, Peter Sherwood, is the Vice President of Operations of Great
Commission Languages. He also runs his company, Morrack Consulting (www.Morrack.com), which
specializes in computer telephony systems.
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My husband, Edward, and I have eight children, four boys
and four girls–all homeschooled from the beginning.
Their age range is 17 years down to 20 months. Two of our
boys are high-functioning autistic. These two are quite a
challenge and tend to verbally bang heads often!
Originally we began homeschooling our older two with the
classic textbook and workbook approach starting at age
5. However, as the first few years went by I began to use
more hands-on and living book approaches and hold off
on official “schooling” until closer to age 9. This was before
I had heard about Charlotte Mason and her approach–but
I watched my children thrive with learning all about their
environment, how things worked, asking questions they
were curious about and seeking their own answers in
books, which has led to a deep love of reading.
What I have found amazing by this “late
blooming–waiting until later for official
schooling” approach is that my children
are more eager and ready to learn and
will absorb information like sponges. My
children have learned more between ages
9 and 10 than they ever did from ages 5
to 10 combined. If I hadn’t experienced it
repeatedly with multiple children, I would
not have believed it. And what a blessing
this has been for my special needs children!
My husband and I believe in a lot of personal reading time
as well as read-aloud family time, and have invested in a
huge, private library through the years that at one point
reached over 7,000 books!
Now I use mainly textbooks and workbooks for Math and
English. Science and History are usually “living books” or
unit studies and experiments that we create ourselves. We
have a good quality microscope, and the boys have learned
more about science with that microscope than I could have
taught them myself. Their curiosity has given them the
initiative to do their own experiments, look at everything
imaginable under the microscope and do research on their
own to learn more about what they are looking at. And of
course, every day is a learning day regardless of where we
are, what we’re doing, or who we’re with!
My older two children have been doing
concurrent enrollment at the local
community college since they were 15
years of age–concurrent enrollment is
when high school students take college
courses and gain college and high school
credit at the same time. Both girls have
graduated early from our homeschool
at 15 and 16 years of age and are nearly
finished with their AA degrees at 16 and
17. My oldest, Rachel, is aiming for medical
Hope Chest Legacy Plus Three
By: Rebekah Wilson
My children have
learned more
between ages 9 and
10 than they ever
did from ages 5 to
10 combined.
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school. The second oldest, Mary, is planning to be a sign
language interpreter for the court system, hospitals, and
public school system for special needs children, and has
been playing with the college orchestra since she was 13.
We have found we can still shelter our children even
through college! It depends completely on the relationship
you have with your child and the communication between
parent and child. It is doable and our girls are thriving,
learning, and seeking out God’s will in their lives.
Homeschooling my two autistic sons has brought up many,
many challenges that I never faced with my other children.
I have learned to back pedal when needed, to switch
gears quickly, to adapt what is in the books to a hands-on
learning experience that is easier for special needs children
to understand and learn from. I have learned to start and
stop school based on my sons’ ability to concentrate, their
frustration level and how much they are struggling with
a particular subject instead of forcing them to finish their
work. And I have learned to stagger the two autistic boys
so they are not doing all their schooling together, which
tends to create a variety of problems.
I’ve learned to be extremely flexible in schooling our
children, whether they have special needs or not. They
are independent starters, learners, and thinkers. They read
voraciously and enjoy discussing what they have read with
others. They are well grounded in their faith and worldview
and I am excited to witness what happens in the future
as each one leaves the nest and makes an impact on the
world around them.
My husband works long hours as a police detective
supervisor for LAPD. He typically works late afternoons and
into the wee hours of the morning, often with overtime
on top of his 10-hour workdays–which means he sleeps
until after lunchtime and is awake after our schooling is
done for the day. Although he isn’t able to help a great
deal with the schooling, he is very supportive and lets me
know I’m doing
a good job with
the children. What
homeschooling
mother wouldn’t be
thrilled with that?
My husband
does enjoy doing
woodworking with
the boys and one of our autistic sons has simply bloomed
with the ability to create wooden items. Our backyard
is filled with his wonderful handmade birdhouses. My
husband also takes the boys fishing several times a week
and enjoys watching the excitement as a hook is nibbled
on. The boys tend to get quite worked up at just a nibble
and if they actually land a fish, well, there’s nothing quite
like the incredible look on a boy’s face when they have
accomplished something special they have set out to do!
Both my husband and boys have been devouring fishing
books and are learning to create their own lures–so watch
out fish, here they come!
My husband also takes several college courses with our
older two children and has plans to get his degree so he
My husband also takes
several college courses
with our older two
children . . .
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can retire and work elsewhere. Both my husband and
our two older daughters have a lot of fun taking classes
together. He is currently taking a ballroom dance class
with our 16 year old daughter and they have had so much
fun together, he plans to do this again with each of his
daughters (and me too–sometime in the future).
I own and operate four home businesses–Country Christian
School and Hope Chest Legacy are the two main ones.
Together with Martha Greene (of www.marmeedear.com),
I operate The Family Mercantile Catalogue and The
Homemaker’s Mentor.
Our school started in 1996 when we began to officially
homeschool. Instead of enrolling with local umbrella
schools that had strange and unnecessary requirements
to be members, we filed an affidavit with the State of
California and became a private school. Homeschoolers
we knew locally were also upset at the mandatory
meetings, mandatory curriculum, and other requirements
for the local umbrella schools and they asked if they
could join our “school.” What began as a part-time job to
help fellow homeschoolers soon became big enough to
launch a website, purchase large file cabinets and today
we have families enrolled with our school all throughout
California. To visit our school website you can go to:
CAhomeschoolISP.com.
In the coming months my husband and I are expanding
our school website to include an interactive learning store
for hands-on, unique, and unusual learning tools, games,
books and ideas. We will also have a blog where we will
share our unique schooling methods and ideas we use with
our autistic boys. Whether a child is special needs or not,
children truly enjoy a new and fresh approach to learning
through their five senses and the ability to have fun while
learning. What someone enjoys doing, they will never
forget! That is an incredible aspect to homeschooling that
can be easily forgotten in the day-to-day grind of “getting
the work done.”
Hope Chest Legacy is what I am known for and this
business started somewhat backwards I guess. I wasn’t
actually planning to start a business; I only wanted to write
a book! But book and business were two peas in a pod and
before I realized what was happening I was suddenly an
entrepreneur in self-publishing and retail.
How it happened is fairly unusual too–and it taught me to
follow where the Lord leads no matter what. He does know
the plans He has for us, even when we don’t want to see
what those plans are or have no idea what we are doing.
When my sixth baby was only six months old, I found a
catalog waiting for me in my mail box one day that I will
never forget. Inside I eagerly pored over interesting and
wonderful items until I reached a page that advertised
hope chests. I nearly cried as I read the advertisement.
The slant was that every good parent should supply an
I wasn’t actually planning
to start a business; I only
wanted to write a book!
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expensive, materialistic hope chest, filled with goodies for
their daughter. And this company had the expensive hope
chests necessary along with a hefty price tag.
I took that catalog into my bedroom and sat on my bed
staring at the beautiful but simple hope chest my father
made for me when I was 12. I looked at it carefully–it
certainly wasn’t a priceless and expensive piece of
furniture. It was made of quarter inch plywood and pine
trim which was all my father could afford at the time. But it
was priceless to me and I would not have traded it for the
most expensive hope chest available!
I have fond memories of my father building my hope chest,
sanding the wood and running his hand over the surface
to test it for smoothness. Even today when I look at my
hope chest, I can see his hands running over the wood,
his head bent in concentration, the set of his jaw as he
decided whether to sand it more or let it be. My father was
an incredible carpenter who truly loved to work with wood,
so having the ability to watch as he built my chest is a
priceless memory to me. Although my father died in 1992,
he doesn’t seem so very far away. A little piece of him is still
with me. When he handed me the key to my hope chest,
his heart went with it.
Before I married, my chest was filled and overflowing with
practical and heartfelt items for my future home. After I
married it was slowly filled with items from my married life,
my children, homes we had lived in and memories I didn’t
want to forget. It might not have been what the catalog
ad showed and it might not have been filled with goodies
that would have been rarely used in a real home, but it was
mine and carried with it memories of dear parents who I
cherished and loved.
My husband suggested that I write the company a letter.
The next morning I woke up early before the children were
up and sat down at the computer to start my letter. When
my husband came home at seven o’clock that evening I
was still writing my letter. My husband, to his great credit
was not annoyed with me for not having dinner ready and
the house clean and the children bathed and ready for
bed . . . instead he came over to peek at what I was writing.
When he saw that it was over thirty pages long he laughed
out loud and said, “That’s no letter, that’s a book!”
Suddenly the Lord spoke right to my heart. The reason
I couldn’t let go of that catalog ad was because I was to
write a book about a topic that was very dear to my heart
and that many people had never heard about before. My
book, The Hope Chest: A Legacy of Love was conceived that
day and became the biggest “baby” I ever had; and like any
baby, it took a full nine months to complete!
Eight- to ten-hour days of writing took a toll on my family,
but I had an intense drive to keep going that I couldn’t
understand–every spare moment and into the wee hours
of the night I was typing away. At one point when I was
nearly finished, my ancient computer seemed to gulp and I
lost one-third of my book–never to be seen again! In tears I
announced I was done. I wouldn’t touch another computer
key ever again and God could just give this burden to
someone else. It’s quite embarrassing to remember what
I had said, but I was heartbroken about those lost pages
and just overwhelmed with spending so much time writing
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when I had a family to care for and love. I went to bed
in tears, determined to pack up the computer the next
morning.
That night, in the wee hours, the Lord woke me up. In tears
I obeyed as I went to the computer, sat down and began
typing again. The words spilled out faster than I could type
and I felt the Lord pacing back and forth behind my chair
as I worked–several times it felt as if He
were dictating to me what I was to type. It
was the most incredible experience and I
knew from that moment onward this was
much bigger than my little idea to write a
book. This was something the Lord wanted
done and I was humbled that He would
use me to that end.
Once the book was written I was faced
with the decision of where to publish it.
We wanted a Christian publisher so the
Godly content would not be removed
to make the book “politically correct” for
public reading, but which publisher and
how to contact them . . . this was all new to me. For two
years the book sat idle while I tried to find a publisher to
work with. Then we finally decided to self-publish and sell
it ourselves. After all…how hard could running a home
business be? I was home all day, wasn’t I? Little did I know
what a wild adventure lay ahead for us.
Looking back I am just awed that we even attempted it–it
was truly the Lord working or our feeble, ignorant attempts
would have otherwise ended in disaster very quickly. For
two months our family scraped and saved every penny. We
ate beans and rice nearly every day saving up for the first
printing of 100 books for $500. The books were mediocre
at best, printed in someone’s garage. But the book was in
print and that’s what mattered. We now had something
tangible to offer, but how, and where, and to whom?
I was learning how to put together a website using
FrontPage 98, struggling a great deal and
wanting to give up. I was starting to realize
there was a large amount of work involved
in being a self-publisher and running a
home business–and we hadn’t even sold a
single book yet!
Before our website was even officially
launched, a large homeschool company
stumbled across it and they liked what
they read about my book and the excerpts
I had placed on the website. The company
requested a copy and I sent it. Within two
weeks they had placed a large order and
we had to reprint the books in order to
fill the order. Within two months we upgraded to a large
professional printer and had sold several thousand copies.
Customers began ordering through our website as well as
through the large, homeschool company. Other companies
began to offer our book. There was no turning back at that
point.
Over the years Hope Chest Legacy has expanded. I have
written additional books and our customer base continues
I wouldn’t touch
another computer
key ever again
and God could just
give this burden to
someone else.
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to grow. When requests for hard-to-find items are received,
we have searched out resources and added those items
to our growing storefront. Each year since we started our
business, the incoming orders have doubled–in 2007 we
more than tripled. Although this might sound wonderful, it
brought problems with it too.
Because I have a background in nursing and my husband is
in law enforcement, neither of us had any real information,
experience, or understanding of how to actually run a
business, expand, do the accounting for a
growing business and all the things that
a growing business needs. Due to my
husband’s long work hours, he has been
unable to help with the business. This
meant I was doing all the work for both the
school and Hope Chest Legacy by myself,
as well as homeschooling and running our
home and caring for our children.
Since Hope Chest Legacy was growing
so quickly, I simply did not have enough
time to do everything and felt there was
so much I needed to know to keep the
business going. I was at the point of either
closing the business or learning how to
manage and expand it better as well as
hire employees to help. The holidays are
our busiest time and I was literally working 12- to 16-hour
days while trying to keep up with my family and home
duties in December 2007. It was a very bleak month for me
with high sales, long hours, and very little time with my
children over the holiday season. To say I was ready to quit
is an understatement. I felt defeated and totally worn out–
although from a business perspective we were growing by
leaps and bounds and I should have been ecstatic–but all
I felt was lost. How could I keep going when I didn’t know
what I was doing?
My husband asked me to take some college courses at
our local community college before we made a decision
on whether to close or not. I enrolled in Business 101,
Basic Accounting 111 and Marketing
101–three heavy courses along with my
extra-busy life! Only by God’s sweet grace
could I survive four months of this–and I
knew it and prayed fervently for His will
to be revealed. The first week of college
was off to a rough start as I had double
pneumonia–but I persevered wanting to
learn all I could before making that big
decision.
The courses have been an eye opener
and how I wish I had taken them long
ago before we ever reached where we are
today. In just the first month of college I
had already learned so much that we made
immediate changes to both businesses
and I wrote a business plan–something I
had never heard of before. I hired an employee for several
weeks until she realized she was needed more at home, so
I’m currently seeking a new employee to fill her place and
hope to have two employees by the end of the year. I have
Each year since
we started our
business, the
incoming orders
have doubled–in
2007 we more
than tripled.
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our business plan posted in the office and I’m working on
a marketing plan to be finished this summer. For the first
time since I wrote my book all those years ago, I finally feel
as if I know where I’m going and how to get there. Instead
of dread at the thought of running the business, I am very
excited about the future now and can’t wait to get started.
Whereas before I was simply going in circles and trying
desperately to catch up without any real hope in sight–now
I have plans to guide me and a goal to reach for. Sounds
simple but when you haven’t learned the basic concepts
of business and are actually running a business, it is a
disaster waiting to happen. If all I can do by writing this is to
encourage someone seeking to open a home business to
take courses on business first, my job will have been done.
Until you know what you are doing and where you are
going, you will only go in circles before finally giving up.
In the summer of 2007 I also started the Family Mercantile
Catalogue with Martha Greene–a unique catalog where
multiple companies join together to place their catalog
pages into one catalog and help reduce the overall cost
of printing a separate catalog for each company. We have
printed two issues and customers are very excited about
this new venture. Wonderful like-minded companies all
found in one special catalog–who could ask for more?
The Homemaker’s Mentor started in 2007 as well.
Martha Greene and I joined together to create special
homemaking lessons that could be downloaded in PDF
format. We have both been asked many, many times how
we keep our homes going while running a business, how
to do basic homemaking skills, how to sew, can food, bake
bread, plan meals and a wide variety of other questions.
Both Martha and I realized there was a true need for older
homemakers to help mentor and walk beside struggling
homemakers. Since we can’t physically be a mentor to
everyone who would like help, we felt that offering an
online school with homemaking lessons would be the best
way to reach as many homemakers as we could. Martha
and I are both enjoying the lessons we create and the
interaction with homemakers all over the world!
I am often asked if my children help with the business and
what a typical day is like for our family. My answers usually
surprise most people who ask. My children occasionally
help with small things, but for the most part we don’t have
them help a great deal. What they do more than anything
else is to help clean up after themselves, help cook meals,
do dishes, laundry, and the older ones will take turns
watching the younger ones while I process orders and
reply to emails.
So far, two of my eight children show a mild interest in
business and like to hang around while I’m working to
talk and ask questions. Sometimes they help wrap books,
The courses have been an eye
opener and how I wish I had
taken them long ago before we
ever reached where we are today.
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stamp recipe cards, and clean the warehouse area for me.
They do this because they enjoy doing it, not because they
are being paid to or are expected to do it.
A typical day probably doesn’t exist for us! I can have a nice
list of what I will do on any given day and within an hour of
starting my day I’ve started and stopped in a dozen different
directions. Generally I’m up by 7:00 a.m. and while starting
coffee and breakfast, I’ll check emails quickly, print off new
orders, and start processing them. My children are up and
functioning by 9:00 a.m. and we start school between
9:00 and 10:00 a.m. We are usually done with school by
lunchtime, around 1:00 p.m. The children then do their
chores and play or read afterwards while I begin packing
and shipping orders, reply to more email or phone calls,
work on writing new books, bookkeeping chores, and all the
other bits and pieces that make up running a business.
Dinner comes between 6:00 and 7:00 p.m., then more
chores and family time. The middle children (all boys) go to
bed between 9:00 and10:00 p.m. The girls stay up to read,
sew, have computer time or do homework (for the ones in
college). This is their free time. They are off to bed by 11:00
p.m. or 12:00 a.m. and I end up in bed sometime between
midnight and 2:00 a.m. If he doesn’t work overtime, my
husband is usually home by 4:00 a.m.
This schedule might sound horrible to most families, but
with my husband’s night work schedule and because my
older girls are in college classes and don’t get out until 10:00
p.m., we have altered our schedule to be able to function as a
family and have time together as a family. It works for us and it
would be simple to adjust to early rising and early bedtime if
my husband’s schedule switched back to daytime again.
I do most of my writing and book formatting, working on
the catalog pages and the Homemaker’s Mentor lessons,
between 11:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m. It is the only window of
uninterrupted time that I have to work–it is very difficult to
get started and need to stop, start, stop, start, stop, and start
all day long. I’ve learned it is more important for my children
to be able to interrupt whatever I am doing throughout the
day and have my attention, than it is to try and squeeze in a
lot of work that needs utmost concentration.
If I had it to do all over again, would I still open a home
business (let alone four of them!)? To be honest, I really
don’t know–it was so much simpler being a wife, mother,
and homemaker, and there is a part of me that still yearns
to go back to that simpler, carefree lifestyle. Running a
home business is so much more difficult than running a
home and raising children–looking back even my most
hectic days as a wife and mother pale in comparison to
running a business and a home and raising children. There
is a steep learning curve and getting through it is difficult,
especially if no one is able to help you and you are doing
everything yourself.
Running a home business
can easily become all-
consuming if you let it . . .
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Running a home business can easily become all-
consuming if you let it (like an idol or a video game) and
customers have a great deal of power in how your life and
day play out–after all, every customer is your boss and you
have to be accountable to them! You are not your own
boss, you work for every customer who places an order
through your business–and this is something someone
needs to understand before they open a business. It is not
an easy place to be, at times, if a customer is not happy.
To have a home business while running a home and raising
children means you are working two full-time jobs and you
either have to find a way to incorporate both into one and
be flexible, or go crazy.
As difficult as running a home business is though, I
personally love a challenge; I always have and always will.
So there is great enjoyment for me in running a home
business as there are continual challenges to meet and
overcome–very much like raising children. I have also met so
many wonderful and unique people through my business. I
have sent packages all over the world and have made many
sweet and dear friends who started as customers, although
I have no idea what they look like and have never visited
their homes! I also feel very blessed knowing that the books
I have written have touched hearts and changed lives, and
for me, that is the reason I keep going. I’ve found my niche
by helping others and I’m happy to stay here and continue
writing and encouraging families everywhere.
Rebekah Wilson, and her husband Edward, have eight children--Rachel, Mary, Kaitlyn, Ezekiel, Isaiah, Uriah, Luke
and Constance. Rebekah taught herself many homemaking and homesteading skills starting from a young age
and is continually learning more. Rebekah’s hope chest and her love of homemaking and lost traditional skills
inspired her to begin writing books to share her passion with others. She has owned and operated Country
Christian School since 1996, Hope Chest Legacy since 2002, The Homemaker’s Mentor since 2007 and
The Family Mercantile Catalogue since 2007. Rebekah also volunteers as a CASA (Court Appointed Special
Advocate) through the juvenile dependency court. As a CASA, Rebekah carries out independent investigations
involving foster children on cases where the judge or attorneys are concerned about the children and their
circumstances. You can visit Rebekah’s websites at: www.CAhomeschoolISP.com, www.HopeChestLegacy.com,
www.TheHomemakersMentor.comand www.FamilyMercantileCatalogue.com.
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We began homeschooling when our oldest daughter, now
23, was going into second grade. Ginni was extremely
bright and did well academically, but she had serious
behavioral problems. When she was about 19, we finally
heard of Asperger’s Syndrome, and it would have been
a blessing if someone had diagnosed her years earlier.
The Christian academy where she was enrolled was not
able to handle her problems. Public schools tend to “fix”
everything with medications. Homeschooling Ginni was
our only option and it proved to be a good solution. She
was in a safe environment where she could learn full-speed
ahead (she loved spelling and usually completed twice the
assigned amount), without having to use medications.
Our second child showed slight signs of dyslexia. It was
very difficult for Elly to learn letters and sounds. She was
somewhat shy and very self-conscious about getting the
answer wrong. We had been homeschooling for four years
by this point, and I was comfortable with it. I was glad, for
Elly’s sake, that we homeschooled. A classroom situation
would not have worked for her. She did not begin to read
until she was almost eight. The beauty of homeschooling is
that each child can learn as fast as they want; even though
Elly didn’t start first grade until eight, and she took a six-
month missions trip when she was 16, she still finished
high school just two months after turning 18!
Our oldest son (17) has dyslexia and it hinders him in
reading. He is working on finishing high school this
year, and although he does have book assignments, we
concentrate his education on hands-on learning. My
husband is a handyman–engine repair, home repair,
electronics, and computers–and he has worked to teach CJ
how to be an excellent handyman! CJ took a half-door off
its hinges at two years old, fixed his first vacuum when he
was eight, began small engine repairs a few years ago, and
is now thinking of learning welding as a life trade.
The rest of our children, aged 14, 11, 7, and 1, have not
exhibited any learning difficulties, but they are all different.
Our 14 year old is self-motivated and will be finished
with high school by 16. Our 11 year old requires frequent
supervision but should be finished with high school by
16 as well. Our 7 year old speeds through her first grade
work. While it can be challenging to find the right venue for
each child, it is certainly worth it to persevere. I encourage
moms to experiment with different curricula until they find
Writing, Editing, and Printing
at Kap & Pen Publications
By: Gail Kappenman
Public schools tend to “fix”
everything with medications.
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the ones that work best for their children. Praise the Lord
there is so much variety available these days!
Our home business history has more bumps in the road
than a Chicago highway under
construction. We understand first-
hand the adage, “try, try again.”
And again. And again. While some
entrepreneurs seem to fall into a
great idea and make a bundle, I
have found the vast majority of
them are more like my husband
and I–trial and error. The important
thing is to keep trying and not give
up. Curt and I are not the type to twiddle our thumbs and
watch endless hours of television, so we’ve played with
various work-from-home ideas. Most didn’t profit much.
We experimented with selling herbal products, long-
distance phone services, gourmet food parties—but we
aren’t salespeople, so we never made much money. In fact,
sometimes we lost money. How frustrating to put time and
money into something and not earn a profit!
My husband had his own computer business from 1993
until 2000. While it fed us and paid the mortgage, it was
inconsistent. Some years were great; other times, we were
unable to pay our bills because our clients didn’t pay us
on time. Then, in 1999, we had four companies declare
bankruptcy, leaving us holding four unpaid invoices. After
losing a lot of money that year, Curt sold the business and
began working for the local school district as a computer
technician, ridding himself of the stress of delinquent
clients. He still does side jobs occasionally for two great
companies, and that helps out a lot.
I wanted to help, too! After all, raising seven children can
be financially challenging at times.
I have always enjoyed writing and
editing, but I never charged for
helping people. One day, I read
a friend’s published work, and
pointed out spelling, grammar, and
typographical errors. She said she
would pay me if I wanted to edit
for her. Wow–I was thrilled! That
was the beginning of my editing
from home. Word of mouth has been my best advertiser,
slowly picking up a new client here and there. I can only
handle so many editing jobs and still be a mom, a wife, and
a teacher, so it works well.
Then one summer day in 2006, my husband brought home
(on loan) a commercial black and white printer. The print
cartridges are huge, expensive, and last for about 10,000
pages! I wondered what in the world we needed one of
those for….I was only teaching a few children at home–I
wasn’t schooling an entire district! But, my hubby is a
gadget guy and he loves electronic toys, so of course he
had to try it out.
About this same time, Martha Greene (of www.
marmeedear.com) mentioned she had been having
requests for a boy’s version of her popular book, Marmee’s
Kitchen Primer, which is designed as a girl’s first kitchen
Our home business history
has more bumps in the road
than a Chicago highway
under construction.
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primer. Many mommas were saying their boys wanted to
learn kitchen skills, but from something more manly than
a girl’s first cooking instruction. I got an idea for a boy’s
book that not only contained recipes, but all sorts of “boy
stuff,” like whittling, woodworking, cabin building, hiking,
camping, hunting, and more. I gave her an outline and she
really liked it, but didn’t have time to put it together. She
suggested I do it. I had no idea how to format a book, so I
suggested we do it together. The Young Man’s HandyBook
was the result.
The book proved popular and continues to sell well.
Martha asked if I could print it at home, using our
commercial printer, pointing out that I might as well be the
one making money off the printing. Well! Our first printing
of the HandyBook was the birth of Kap & Pen Publications.
We purchased coils, a hole-puncher, plastic protective
sheets, and paper. The first few were kind of rough and a
lot of pages had to be reprinted as I learned how to punch
the paper, but, as time went on, I improved!
Not long after we started printing, I began producing unit
studies. I love to write, so unit studies are a lot of fun for
me. I try to make them interesting for the children and
teens that use them. Then I got into creating planners
and organizers. From there, things have really blossomed!
I began getting more self-publishers who wanted me
to print for them. My daughter recently got in on the
act—she had an idea for a Bible journal for young ladies.
We produced one and it was an immediate success, so
we now offer it in three colors. We print all of our own
titles in addition to about a dozen titles for other authors.
Everything we produce is either spiral-bound or three-hole
punched. We have enough business that I frequently hire
friends to help us out on large orders.
This is the first business we’ve tried where we are actually
making money. Some months we make more than
others–obviously it depends on re-orders and/or the
size of job runs. The more products we have to offer, the
greater our monthly sales become. Our invoices totaled
over $12,000 for 2007. Profits for any given month ranged
from $100-$400. Those figures would have been higher,
but we purchased a lot of equipment that year. Each
printer is about
$1,000 and we
bought two in 2007.
Duplexers, coil-
punchers, memory
chips–those are
all expensive, but
they only have
to be purchased
once. 2008 will be
more profitable
because we will not need to purchase any printers. All
things considered, we are doing very well for being a new
company, started in our home, done on a part-time basis.
We are a POD (print on demand) publishing service. That
means someone can order as few as 10 books of a title.
PODs cannot compete in price with the “big boys” who
do runs of 500 or 1,000. If this sounds interesting to other
homeschoolers, there is a demand for more POD printers
This is the first
business we’ve tried
where we are actually
making money.
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like us. Why? Because there is an increasing number of
self-publishing authors and they often do not have the
$1,500-$3,000 necessary to buy 1,000 copies at a time. POD
printers are more costly on a per book basis, but we also
allow for much lower minimum purchases.
Self-publishing is a great home business because it can
be flexed around the family schedule and vice-versa.
For example, relaxed homeschooling families may find
they have time to
print during the
day but not the
evenings. For strict
homeschoolers,
printing can
be done in the
evenings and on
weekends instead
of during normal
school hours. Print
until 4:00 a.m. if
desired–there’s
no reason not to.
There are no “other people’s” time frames to which one
is constrained. A home retail business must conduct
business during normal business hours. Party-oriented
home businesses succeed by doing business in the
evenings, when people are at home. But self-printing can
be done any time of the day or night. Printing from home
is not complicated and doesn’t require a lot of training
or expertise. It’s fairly straightforward–buy a commercial
printer, a punch, a lot of paper and other supplies, and start
printing!
Of course, good printers are very conscientious about
their end results, so they will take extra time to make sure
their clients are submitting things in the proper format. A
good printer should do test runs to make sure everything
will look good. That is actually one of the perks to home
printing–the big printers just take whatever is given to
them and print it. If it’s full of typos . . . oh well. That’s not
their problem. Kap & Pen tries very hard to catch any
mistakes. Now, sometimes, we’ll get a client who doesn’t
want to pay for editing and insists we run something the
way they provided it. Well, in that case, they get what
they want…but that is not our preference. We prefer to
review everything and make sure it is as close to right as
it can be! We’ve gotten printing jobs formerly done by a
local competitor. How did we get the jobs? We strive to
assemble a better-looking end result. We are willing to set
up pages, edit, and whatever is needed. Sometimes we get
jobs because we are already printing for a customer and
they like our work.
Home printing is a fun family business. Everyone can be
involved! Our previous attempts at secondary income
usually involved only me and dear hubby and perhaps a
few of our teens. But now, even our 7 year old can run a
coil through unit studies. The children can learn to print,
assemble, coil, crimp, shrink-wrap–all of it. Sometimes we
hire friends to help on large orders. We can sit around the
table and talk while we assemble books. Even the baby
Self-publishing is a
great home business
because it can be
flexed around the
family schedule and
vice-versa.
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can be involved–he provides smiles, baby talk, and the
occasional thrown toy on the table for entertainment!
So what is a typical day like in our home? I don’t know. We’re
rather unconventional around here. I blame it on growing
up entirely too close to Chicago, having too many 7:30 a.m.
college classes (when do universities
expect you to sleep?), and having to
be at a 9-to-5 job for four years. Now I
live across from 300 picturesque acres
of cow pasture and rolling hills in the
piedmont of South Carolina and I have
the delicious freedom to do things when
I want. I’m spoiled.
Typically, our days start kind of late
in the morning. I am not a morning
person. I can work until 4 a.m. no
problem, but I hate getting up early!
I get up about 7:00 a.m. to fix breakfast and lunch for my
husband. Then I either return to my room to read or nap
until the baby wakes up, or I go to the office and answer
emails. The children get up sometime after 8:30 a.m.
Okay–I hear the reading audience gasping, “How can you
teach your children to be responsible if you don’t wake
them up at the crack of dawn?” Want to hear something
fantastic? In spite of my many mistakes as a parent, the
children living at home are turning out pretty good. They’re
clean cut, they’re hard workers, they’re helpful, they’re
great with the baby, they often offer their services to
friends and neighbors free of charge, they think of others,
they willingly attend church with us, they don’t have any
weird piercings, tattoos, hairdos, or clothing, and most
of them can get school done without intense parental
involvement. They are responsible. So, if they want to sleep
late–I let them. And if I want to sleep late–they let me! I
also let them do other things I was not permitted to do
growing up, like run barefoot, stay up
past ten o’clock, and put their feet on
the couch. We only live once. But—
they don’t run with scissors.
On with the day! If they want pancakes,
grits, or oatmeal, I will prepare that,
or they can serve themselves cold
cereal or eat fresh fruit with bagels or
toast and jelly or cream cheese. Most
of them can make their own eggs
and bacon. Every breakfast is a little
different around here. Some days we
live dangerously and eat sandwiches or cold pizza for
breakfast.
No two days are exactly the same. The most frequent
errands include the post office (mailing books), the bank
(making deposits!), the cartridge store and the paper
store (buying supplies), and the library (getting books
and movies for the kids). I now have one daughter who
has orthodontist appointments and one who has piano
lessons. We joined the local YMCA to better our health, so
I go with two of my daughters at least twice a week. They
better their health; I provide a reason for the staff to be
poised and ready to call 911.
How can you teach
your children to be
responsible if you don’t
wake them up at the
crack of dawn?
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Generally, I try to get my first grader’s reading out of the
way in the morning. Lunch is anywhere from 12:30 to
1:30 in the afternoon. My two high schoolers work well
independently, so they either finish in the morning or right
after lunch. When CJ finishes school, he often has outdoor
projects or repair projects his dad wants finished before
he comes home from work. The older girls will help with
watching the baby if I am busy running errands or printing
or editing, although I generally do editing at night or early
in the morning, when the house is quiet. The girls also help
with schooling the 7 and 11 year olds if needed.
My 11 year old is the most challenging right now because
he requires a lot of supervision in order to get his work
done. I have recently changed to daily worksheets for him
instead of workbooks and reading books with assignments.
This seems to be a much better solution for his learning
needs and I am very excited about it. The drawback is
that I have to spend more time in front of the computer
preparing his lessons, but I feel he will be getting more out
of them now.
My husband, Curt, is usually home by five in the evening,
so we try to have everyone’s school work finished and
the house tidied before he gets home. Once home, he
may go out and work on a project with CJ, help one of
the teens with algebra or geometry, play games with the
kids on the computer, do some work on the computer,
fly his remote control plane at the local park with the
kids, or watch a movie with the children in the evening.
Sometimes we all play board games together or assemble
a puzzle. He also will take the two boys with him to the
YMCA a few nights a week.
Keeping the printing business running smoothly while
trying to keep up with homeschooling can sometimes
be challenging–especially when we get a large order.
However, it helps that the older children can work
independently and can also assist the younger ones. We
use books and curricula which are not teacher-dependent,
freeing time for me to work with my first grader or print
books–sometimes both at one time! We try to maintain
a weekly schedule for each child, but we remain flexible.
We are “relaxed” homeschoolers, meaning we don’t follow
stringent 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. schedules. We may school in the
evenings or on Saturdays if we get bogged down with
orders. The children are very good about schooling at “off”
hours. We also try to take advantage of non-classroom
learning opportunities.
We enjoy taking vacations as a family and that’s a great
learning time. We’ll have the children do research about
historical places we’ll be seeing. Then they get to be the
“teacher” and tell the rest of us what we’re looking at!
We do a lot of “hands-on” learning. We’ve raised chickens,
rabbits, cows, and ducks for food, so they’ve learned
We use books and curricula which
are not teacher-dependent . . .
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animal husbandry and they get great biology lessons
at slaughtering time. (Don’t get grossed out–the nice
little meat packages at the grocery store came from
somewhere!) My 18 year old also raises Labradors, so the
children have learned all about breeding and whelping.
It’s beautiful to watch the amazed look on a six-year-old’s
face after a puppy has just been born or the excited light in
their eyes as they watch the shell slowly break away from
an emerging chick.
Another literal, hands-on, learning tool was building an
addition to our home–by ourselves! It was a great learning
experience for the children, as they learned to construct
walls, take measurements, hang drywall, lay flooring, do
wiring, run the plumbing, and lay ceramic tiles. We did
have to hire a brickmason for the exterior, but some of
them even got a hand at laying the bricks and learning a
bit about that as well.
Because we do printing as a family business, the kids are
learning all about costs, equipment, supplies, and profits.
Two of my daughters are gifted artistically and are learning
to do illustrations for children’s books.
We are not a typical family in some regards: my husband
and I are still married after almost 20 years; we have lived
in the same neighborhood for almost 19 years; we attend
church regularly and we know where our children are.
We don’t give up easily–if we try our hand at something
and it doesn’t work, we try something else. If we want to
learn something new, we do, and our children learn right
alongside us. We are trying to raise our children to be
servants for the Lord, productive citizens for our country,
and a blessing to our family. And right now, for this season
in our lives, the Lord is allowing us to enjoy the blessings
of a home business and the blessings of homeschooling.
Praise the Lord!
Gail Kappenmanand her husband, Curt, are the homeschooling parents of seven wonderful children, ranging in
age from 1 to 23. They own Kap & Pen Publications, a small, in-home spiral-bind printing company located in
rural South Carolina. Gail has a B.A. in English and enjoys editing, homeschooling, tutoring, camping, and self-
publishing. She co-authored The Young Man’s HandyBook and has also published planners and unit studies.
Gail recently helped her daughter, Eleonore, print her first book—a Bible journal for young ladies. You can view
their products and printing/editing services at www.kapandpen.com or visit Gail at her brand-new blog at
http://kapandpen.blogspot.com.
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I never dreamt that our family would be running a
publishing business out of our home. In the early 1980s, I
worked as a graphic designer for David C. Cook Publishing
Company. Compared to the two previous jobs I held for a
short time at secular advertising agencies, I loved Christian
publishing. The deadlines were longer and I thrived in the
creative environment, working alongside other Christian
editors and designers. I was in charge of designing Sunday
school curriculum and children’s books. Some of the
highlights of my job were going on photo shoots and hiring
artists from all over the country to illustrate my products. It
was rewarding to know that the publications we produced
touched hearts and changed lives.
At that time, graphic designers did everything from scratch.
There was no such thing as computer design programs.
We occasionally looked in design manuals for fresh ideas,
but the layout process was left up to our imaginations and
the blank page. Type was set in galleys by the typesetting
department and if we needed to enlarge or shrink artwork,
we used a huge machine called an Artograph. That process
seems archaic now.
In 1986, Mac computers were introduced into the
workplace, changing the design process forever–but I
totally missed the transition as I gladly began the new
and most cherished season of my life, becoming a stay-at-
home mom. My husband and I had decided to homeschool
from the moment the doctor placed our oldest child in
our arms, and the last thing on my mind was a publishing
career. It wasn’t until a decade later, after we bought our
first personal computer, that it occurred to me that I could
publish from home.
Oh, the wonders of the PC. I couldn’t believe that I had
everything I needed to produce my own publications,
in the comfort of my home. I could now scan in my own
artwork, choose from hundreds of typefaces, and design
my publication in Microsoft Word. I was excited about the
possibilities.
By this time I had been homeschooling for a while and one
day I suggested to my oldest daughter Claire, who was
then 12, that maybe we should publish a girl’s magazine
Full Circle: The Story Behind Remembrance Press
By: Jill Novak
My husband and I had
decided to homeschool from the
moment the doctor placed our
oldest child in our arms . . .
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called, The Girlhood Home Companion. That innocent
suggestion was to take our family on a wonderfully
creative and faith-filled journey into the realm of home
publishing–a journey we are still on today and one that we
feel we were predestined to walk.
Since that time, and with the help of my family, I have
written The Gift of Family Writing, produced several drawing
and nature journaling CDs and DVDs, published articles
on writing and drawing from life, and continue to speak
with my son, Eric, at homeschool conferences, both in
person and over the Internet. Has all of this been easy to
accomplish while raising a family and homeschooling? No.
But it has truly been worth the effort to see hearts touched
and lives changed through our family ministry, which we
named Remembrance Press.
A Wealth of Experience
Looking back over the years, I can see how God used the
expertise I gained from working at the publishing company
to prepare me for starting my own publishing and graphic
design business. Was I aware that He was bringing me full
circle? Not at all. I didn’t plan to start a home business.
Instead, the passion to publish grew out of two loves–my
life experience and home education.
Even though the idea for a girls’ publication just seemed
to pop into my head, in realty it was an outflow of the
relationship I was experiencing with my older daughter.
Virtually unhindered by peer or social pressures, she was
blossoming into a godly young lady–and I wanted to
encourage other mothers and daughters that they too could
enjoy and make the most out of these precious girlhood
years. And so The Girlhood Home Companion was born.
Your Passion
What are you passionate about? Is there something that
you just have to share with others or you’ll bust? What
creative discoveries or time-saving methods have you
made while homeschooling your children that could
help other homeschool parents on their journey? Those
are the kinds of questions you should ask yourself if you
are thinking of writing a book or publishing any kind
of homeschool curriculum. Your products should be an
outflow of the work that the Lord is doing in your life and
the lives of your family members.
As everyone knows, one of the greatest benefits of home
education is the large amounts of uninterrupted time you
I can see how God used the expertise
I gained from working at the
publishing company to prepare me
for starting my own publishing and
graphic design business.
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have to allow your children to focus on developing their
gifts to their fullest potential. And as often happens, as you
begin to teach your children new skills, the Lord develops
your gifts and bents as well. Talents that may never have
come to fruition or ones that have lain dormant for years,
begin to resurface.
This happened to me while I was studying the Charlotte
Mason approach to learning. After reading about the
benefits of nature journaling with children, I began to draw
and paint with my children on a regular basis, something
I hadn’t done for 20 years. As I observed the way their
drawing skills improved by drawing from nature, I was led
to develop nature journaling and sketching resources, not
only from an artist’s perspective, but a homeschool mom’s
perspective, as well. I had to look at the resources that were
available to homeschoolers and ask, “Is there something
unique that I can contribute in this area? How can I help
equip mothers and inspire children to confidently put
their pencils to paper? What can a mother do to give her
children a life-long love for God’s creation?” That’s how
Becoming God’s Naturalist and the Sketch with Me
series were born.
A New Gift
Sometimes God provides new gifts so that you’ll know
beyond a shadow of doubt that it is a work that only
He could do. Ephesians 2:10 (KJV) says, “For we are his
workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which
God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”
Becoming God’s workmanship is often a painful, drawn-out
process, in which God purifies our hearts through many
trials and tribulations. But, oh, the transformation that
occurs over time! Don’t be surprised if God leads you in a
whole new direction, leaving your talents and gifts buried
in the desert for a while. God isn’t so much concerned
with the destination as He is with the journey. It’s in those
faltering steps from one point to another that we lose the
excess baggage that is weighing us down and keeping us
from becoming all we can be in Christ. When our season
of testing is over, the Lord can finally use us the way He
intended to all along.
The first time I sat down to our new computer, I suddenly
realized how ill-equipped I was to write. I had recently
walked though some very trying circumstances from the
birth and death of our fourth child, and I wanted to write
an editorial about how the Body of Christ had ministered
to our family during our time of need. My fingers paused
over the keyboard and my head began to pound. Oh, no!
Ephesians 2:10 (KJV) says, “For
we are his workmanship, created in
Christ Jesus unto good works, which
God hath before ordained that we
should walk in them.”
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I had a story to tell, but how was I supposed to get it out
of my heart and onto the page? You can’t realistically
publish a magazine if you can’t write. But there was just
too much I needed to share, so I took the plunge. I have to
admit my first editorials were riddled with mistakes, but
my audience was kind and
forgiving.
There was nothing like
having a real audience to
motivate Claire and me to
grow as writers. Whether
writing a fictional story
about ministering teacups
or a personal essay about ministering kindness, knowing
that someone was going to read what we wrote gave us
the desire to learn all we could about the craft of writing.
In fact, writing and editing The Girlhood became such a
family affair that we stopped producing it for a while so I
could write The Gift of Family Writing, a gentle and freeing
approach to writing that has touched more hearts and
lives than I ever could have imagined.
In years to come, and even now, The Girlhood and The
Gift of Family Writing have proved to be fertile soil for
birthing the writer in all of our family members–and
not only ours, but those God sends our way. I love
encouraging others to write for us–those who have
a story to tell but have never been published before.
Often our weaknesses become our greatest assets when
placed in the Master’s hands.
Timing is Everything
Don’t be discouraged if you don’t have it all together to
start your own business. Maybe you have a burning desire
to write a book, but you don’t know how to write, much
less get published. Maybe you have a young family and you
can’t devote large blocks of
time to sitting in front of the
computer. Limitations can
become your greatest source
of creativity if you don’t fight
against them. Be realistic
and accept the season of life
you are in. You will have a
better product in the long
run if you keep your priorities straight. Start where you are
today and offer your humble beginnings to the Lord. Read
all you can on the process of writing and publishing, and
take your time. Commit your way to the Lord and He will
establish your path.
Homeschool in Disguise
When considering a home business, think about how
you can use that business to create a positive learning
environment for your children. What skills will you be able
to impart to them as a result of your choices? What talents
do they already possess, which could be the greatest asset
to the business you are now considering?
I know we wouldn’t be successful at anything we have
attempted if it wasn’t for our family working together
Limitations can become your
greatest source of creativity if you
don’t fight against them.
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as a unit. Throughout the years, God has enabled our
individual family members, in one way or another, to fill all
the different departments that home publishing requires:
writing, editing, graphic design, computer graphics,
computer technology, web and blog design, HTML, CSS, ad
design, advertising copy, marketing, duplicating, E-Book
production, email database processing, bookkeeping and
accounting. We either excelled in these areas or had to
learn what they entailed.
I didn’t know the wealth of talent my husband, Robert,
possessed until we attempted to publish our first
magazine. We were married for over 20 years before I
found out that he knew how to edit. In his college days,
he was told that he should go into creative writing, but
he chose another career path instead. It wasn’t until we
published The Gift of Family Writing that I learned what a
talented writer and top-notch editor he really is. Robert has
definitely gone into creative writing!
The same thing happened with our daughter Claire. I
was unaware of the writer hidden deep within her until
I needed her to write a fictional story for our very first
Girlhood. Only 12 at the time, she began trying different
writing styles for each new edition. She seemed to blossom
overnight and it wasn’t long before she was contributing
lengthy installments to The Pebbly Brook Farm Series,
character-building stories based on her father’s farm days
in northern Illinois.
Writing for The Girlhood prepared Claire for a lifelong career
in journalism, but the astonishing thing is that she has
been hired to write for other publishing houses without
a college education. Her use of language is phenomenal.
My husband and I attribute that to all the living books we
read to her as a child. Plus, as a young adult she taught
herself more about the writing process by reading the
autobiographies and works of famous writers.
At the age of 17, she was hired by The Old Schoolhouse®
Magazine, LLC to write special features on college
admissions and preparing transcripts. Ultimately, her
written work provided her with all the credentials she
needed to get her foot in the publishing door. Now,
at the age of 22, she continues to be a vital part of our
home business as assistant editor of The Girlhood Home
Companion, a freelance journalist, and founder of The
Hopeful Farm Foundation, a Kentucky-based non-profit
that ministers to families with special needs.
I often say we wouldn’t be in business at all if it weren’t for
the talent that our son, Eric (17), has brought to the mix.
Being able to rely on his computer expertise has enabled me
to expand our product line to include audio recordings and
DVDs. At the age of 12, Eric began to show a natural aptitude
for computer technology, but the real surprise was when, at
the age of 15, he discovered that he loved graphic design,
too. I didn’t see that coming and it thrilled me to no end that
Eric loves design as much as I do. He is on the staff of The
Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC as a graphic designer and
freelances for other homeschool businesses.
As a result of growing up in a “publishing house,” Eric loves to
write. He maintains a blog named The Voice of Experience,
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and he feels empty if he doesn’t write something almost
every day. That does my heart good, considering that he
struggled with the writing process when he was younger.
Finding the keys to release the writer within him is one
of the reasons that The Gift of Family Writing was penned.
Having a passion for the rights of the unborn, Eric is also the
founder of Pro Life Teenagers.com and Abortaware.com
As far as the younger children go, I see writing, illustration,
design and photography skills developing. Is that any
surprise? Not really. The lines between home business
and home education are blurred in our home. One just
naturally spills over into the other, and the results have
been incredible to behold. So far, my older children’s life
callings have flowed out of our home publishing business,
and I expect the same will happen with our younger
children as well.
If you find yourself wondering if a home business is right
for your family, ask yourself these questions. Am I willing to
work off the grid and outside the box? Are my children the
right age for me to juggle the demands of a home business
and family life? What does my family have to gain from
this endeavor? What do they have to lose? Am I prepared
to work harder than I ever have before? Be brutally honest
with yourself when making a decision, and don’t make the
need for extra income the only reason for starting one.
Catch 22
If you jump into business
for the wrong reasons, you
may get burned. If you are
in debt, do not think that
a home business is going
to be your salvation. It
takes money to make to
make money, right? Not
necessarily. It takes money
to make money–fast. I
never had very much
money at my disposal for printing jobs, and in many ways,
I’m glad. I had to start small and wait a long time for my
products to generate enough money for printing more
products or buying new equipment. Now I see the wisdom
in having to take it slow.
In many ways I was too exuberant in the beginning to see
the significant work that the Lord was doing over time. In
hindsight, I can see that the longer it took me to complete
my book, the more well-rounded it became. This isn’t
everyone’s story; but if your circumstances are similar to
mine, err on the side of caution. Don’t go into debt to try and
increase your income. Save the money you need for your
first printing job and see how your product is received.
If you are in debt,
do not think that
a home business
is going to be your
salvation.
If you find yourself wondering if
a home business is right for your
family, ask yourself these questions.
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Test your market and do your research. Work on producing
a quality product that people need, instead of a quick fix
for your financial problems. People know the difference
and your motivation will show in the finished product.
You may think you have a winner of a publication and
then again you may have a product that no one needs on
a regular basis or one that’s only seasonal. It’s not worth
going into debt over printing jobs only to find that you
have underestimated the financial return. The stress it will
put on your family relationships may become unbearable
and the very thing you desire will turn into gravel in your
mouth. Pray and ask the Lord to lead you in the good
work He has prepared ahead of time for you, and wait
expectantly on Him. Make sure your motives are pure.
Managing God’s Blessings
One thing I have discovered this last year is that your
home business can take on a life of its own. With all
the opportunities that the Lord provides, plus the high
visibility of the Internet, you can feel that your business
needs are inexhaustible and your audience insatiable.
That’s when you once again have to
step back and evaluate the cost. Life
is a series of trade-offs and there are
only so many hours in a day. Count the
cost to your relationship with the Lord,
your family and you, personally. If your
business is an outgrowth of your family
relationships and a work that the Lord
is doing, He will sustain you and your
family through it. Despite life’s twists and turns, you will
find the strength you need to carry on for the long haul.
That doesn’t mean you won’t have seasons where you
have to let certain things go. I am continually making
adjustments for publishing deadlines and putting new
products on the back burner until I can attend to them at
some later point in time. Deadlines can be daunting, so it is
necessary to evaluate what you can realistically handle and
how your business decisions will affect your family.
Because of health issues I have encountered in the last few
years, I have determined that everything I write is first and
foremost to my children and grandchildren. Every Girlhood
editorial is penned with them in mind. Of course, I write for
my larger audience, but I write with the knowledge that I
am creating a legacy for my children and grandchildren.
That is very important to me because I had so few written
words from my own mother after she died. So ask yourself
what you want to be remembered for and I believe that
question, when honestly answered, will help you chart the
right course for your home business in the future.
For our family, homeschooling and
running Remembrance Press has been
a walk of faith in the school of life. I can
only tell you in retrospect what the Lord
has done and what He is doing, but I
cannot tell you what the future holds for
our family. That’s why they call it a faith
walk. Letting God be the source of our
Life is a series of
trade-offs and there
are only so many
hours in a day.
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children’s education through the curriculum of a home
business has enabled them to follow their bents and learn
to walk by faith themselves–and their journey has only just
begun.
Jill Novak and her husband, Robert, have been married 28 years and are the parents of five children. Together
her family has founded Remembrance Press, publishers ofThe Pebbly Brook Farm Series: Character Building
Stories for Boys and Girls, Becoming God’s Naturalist, The Gift of Family Writing, and The Girlhood Home
Companion. Jill was raised in a creative home environment and is deeply indebted to her mother for fostering
the gifts and talents that the Lord has placed within her. Before becoming a mommy in 1986 (her most cherished
life’s calling), she worked as a graphic designer for David C. Cook Publishing Company, designing Sunday
school curriculum and children’s books. Visit the Novak family’s website at www.remembrancepress.com, and
their family’s new venture, Hopeful Farm, a Kentucky-based non-profit that ministers to families impacted by
special needs at www.hopefulfarmfoundation.org.
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HomeWork:
Business Support
Our last two business profiles are in the form of business support
occupations. Karen Kirby shares with us what she’s learned about following
the Lord’s leading and balancing home and her medical transcriptionist
work. Gerrie Lynn Wallace explains what she’s learned about the benefits of
organization and quality time spent with her children during her tenure as
a work-from-home bookkeeper.

“Typing class! Who needs it? I won’t need to know how to
type as a physical therapist!” At 34 words per minute, I was
very frustrated with learning how to type on a Selectric–an
electric typewriter (I’m dating myself, aren’t I?). I would
soon find out about God’s sense of humor.
After graduating from high
school, I got a job at a law firm
as a legal secretary. I know now
that I was hired because I was
cheap labor. Ha! After three years
there, I decided it was time to
go to college. While at college,
I was hired by a risk-taker to do
medical transcription part-time. I
say “risk-taker,” because she really
went out on a limb for me, as I had
absolutely no medical transcription
experience.
After two years of university
studies, my career goals changed
and I decided to go back home to my parents and attend
a local community college to get my two-year degree in
liberal arts. I got a job at a local hospital in the medical
transcription department. I ended up staying there and
moving on to be a medical secretary in the pathology
department. My formal education ended with a two-year
degree and I stayed on at the hospital.
In 1991, I met my soon-to-be husband, Ted. Life was going
along–all was well. In 1995, I gave birth to our beautiful
daughter, Brianna, and, six weeks
later, I hated the thought of leaving
her and going back to work. We
needed my income and the health
insurance benefits that I received
while working at the hospital at
the time. I went back to work for
three quarters of the time and
my husband worked evenings,
so Brianna did not have to go to
daycare. If we ever got in a bind,
my aunt was there to help with
childcare.
When Brianna was 1½, I was
approached by my sister-in-law,
Kathy, about something new she
was going to try—medical transcription at home! This was
a fairly new concept in 1996 and seemed to be a pretty
risky move. Kathy gave me the contact information for the
company she was working for and I made the call. Based
on my experience, I got the job! At first, I did both jobs just
Work At Home? Me?
By: Karen Kirby
God has blessed what
started out as “yuck,
typing” and turned it into
a wonderful opportunity to
work at home–something
I never could have made
happen on my own.
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to try it and see if it was for real. It was! I quit my job at the
hospital shortly before Brianna turned 2, and I have been
working at home doing medical transcription since.
Wow! That was 11 years ago! I started out working full-
time and then switched to part-time. I am considered an
“independent contractor,” which means I am basically self-
employed. I have to take care of my own state and federal
taxes. I have to contribute to my own retirement account.
God has blessed what started out as “yuck, typing” and
turned it into a wonderful opportunity to work at home–
something I never could have made happen on my own.
Working from home meant that I could type while the
kids were asleep, earn the extra income we needed, save
on childcare costs, and be the next best
thing to an at-home mom–my ultimate
dream job!
Time went on and it was time to think
about school for our daughter. We sent
Brianna to a private Christian school
for half-day kindergarten. Shortly after
Brianna started kindergarten, I gave
birth to our active son, Bryce. Brianna
went to public school for first and second grades. For those
two years, I heard “Mama, I want to stay home with you.
Please homeschool me!” (I have a sister who homeschools
her children, and so the idea of homeschooling had
been talked about in our family). The first year, I stiff-
armed the subject, thinking there was no way I could do
this homeschooling thing. My very supportive husband
encouraged me and said that I could do it. Besides, who
taught Brianna how to count, her ABCs, colors, and shapes
prior to school? For the second year, I tried to read as many
books on homeschooling as possible. I spoke with my sister
and sought advice, and we prayed, prayed, and prayed.
Brianna started third grade here at home. Bryce was
3 by then, so I was homeschooling and working part-
time–all with a toddler in the house! The flexibility of
homeschooling and working at home allows so much more
time together as a family. My husband works evenings, and
so much of our family time is spent in the afternoon. If our
kids were sent to school, our family time would be down to
about an hour a day.
A typical day for me starts out very early
in the morning. My alarm goes off at 2:45
a.m. I try not to hit the snooze button
too many times and get to the computer
by 3:30 a.m. I work until around 8 to 9
a.m. (depending on workload). By that
time, the children (who are now 13 and
7) are usually up, dressed, fed, chores
done (well, almost!), and their personal
Bible studies done. I get a quick bite of breakfast and then
we’re off and running. Some days we need to scoot out
the door to piano lessons or enrichment courses through
our local homeschool assistance program. Other days, we
study math, read great books, do copywork, crafts or art
work, and have family Bible study time. Now that spring is
here, we also fill in with gardening and yard work. We have
I count myself to be
truly blessed!
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afternoons with Dad and do any chores that didn’t get
done before. After we send Dad off to work, we have some
more play time, school time, or chore time–depending on
what needs to be done. Then we are early to bed–usually
start heading there about 8 p.m. and definitely lights out
by 9 p.m.
I count myself to be truly blessed! I have been hired for
the various medical transcription jobs I’ve held based
on my on-the-job experience. There are educational
programs and a certification program that one could take.
Education and experience required varies from employer
to employer. Our local community college offers a diploma
program studying medical transcription. I know of several
correspondence course programs in the field. Mine is
most probably a road less traveled, simply because God
has blessed me with job opportunities based on others
taking a chance on me and then eventually my on-the-
job experience getting me jobs in the more recent years.
My family and I are thankful that God has provided this
opportunity for me to work at home and homeschool two
awesome kids!
Karen Kirbyis the wife of a wonderfully supportive husband, Ted, and mother of two awesome children, Brianna,
age 13, and Bryce, age 7. They have been humbly homeschooling their children for 5 years. She has been working
at home as a medical transcriptionist for 11 years and thanks God for both of these opportunities. Karen enjoys
spending time with family, gardening, sewing (when she can!), reading good books, homemade pizza and movie
nights, and is a quilter-wanna-be.
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I’m pretty sure that people who homeschool and are
self-employed are crazy! I think our type over-commits,
habitually. We just can’t say “no!” I can’t prove it, but I’d bet
that none of us purposefully intended to be self-employed.
I know I didn’t. We are probably also the type that attends
functions, events, and meetings, and sit there and think
about how it could be improved. We aren’t good helpers
either, and usually we end up the leaders of anything we
are involved in. My husband and I are both this type; I
more than he, but no matter, we both are very dominant
personalities.
I had a full-time job as a bank teller when I went to work
part-time in the evenings for an income tax practitioner. I
was single, lived at home, and loved to shop, so the extra
money plus the ability to look for a rich, single young man
was right up my alley. Incidentally, my future husband was
working with my mother so I didn’t have the opportunity
to view his financial status ahead of the vows. In 15 years
of marriage we’ve had the “richer or worser” as the minister
stated in our vows. I know, he should have said “poorer,” but
I think he lost his place and just blurted out “worser” and I
loved it! You see, I’ve always believed that “poor” is a state
of mind and “broke” is a temporary situation. Broke can
last several years as we’ve experienced several times in our
married life, but you tend to tighten up, live frugally, and
still enjoy the most important things. But, I digress.
I worked part-time for the tax practitioner for 13 years
along with other full-time positions. Then we had our first
child, and I decided I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom.
That worked until tax season rolled around again and then
a few of the clients who had been my regulars at the old
job called me up and insisted I do their taxes. So, being
unable to say no, I said they could come on over. Thus
began my life-long career of bookkeeping and income
taxes. During that first season at my dining room table, I
serviced 75 clients. This is my eighth year and the business
has grown to approximately 700+ income tax clients with
year-round bookkeeping and payroll for small businesses.
Was this my lifelong dream? No, I actually attended college
to be a teacher!
But wait, I am a teacher. When my first child started 3K at
the local Baptist church she consistently brought home
“yellow lights.” She couldn’t pay attention, and certainly
didn’t learn anything. Well, my goodness, I thought, how
hard could it be to teach 12 or so kids their alphabet,
Keeping Books to Homeschool
By: Gerrie Lynn Wallace
I’m pretty sure that people
who homeschool and are self-
employed are crazy!
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colors, numbers, and a few basic skills? But apparently my
child was ADD and had an inability to focus. So I decided
to teach her at home. We didn’t like getting up early for
school anyway, since by now sister had arrived and brother
was on the way. So, we started homeschooling the next
year. It’s been five years and now all three children are
homeschooled. I realized rather quickly that this was not
something I could approach casually since we don’t school
between January and April 15. Actually, my children don’t
even know they have parents during that time. Thankfully
there aren’t a lot of extra
curricular activities going
on during the summer and
we are able to focus on
school five days a week and
get a lot accomplished.
The key to how we are able
to get it all accomplished
is organization. My husband and I are first-borns and from
what I read that is a great birth order for being naturally
organized. Is it easy? Absolutely not. I still have days when
I fail miserably and I still have to consciously work at it.
Making sure everything has a designated spot has helped.
Usually, I have the children go through the house twice
a day and put everything back where it goes. And when
they are looking for something I tell them where it should
be but I don’t help them look for it. One day each week (it
varies) we “clean” house. This includes looking for pockets
of clutter and working out new designated spots. School
papers and books are organized into file trays or between
bookends. Scissors, crayons, markers, and pencils have
their own trays or boxes at each child’s desk. I’ve also found
that color coding each child’s stuff helps me know who to
call when I find it on the floor.
At work I try to “touch” an issue only once. For example,
if it’s a phone message, I call them back and find out
what they need and take care of it right then. If I have to
compose a letter, research a question, make a copy, etc., I
just do it. I don’t go on to another message or issue until
that one is completely finished or resolved. This includes
getting it filed. I am a
procrastinator by nature
and these are the most
difficult but rewarding
changes I’ve made at home
and work.
The most important
organizational tool in my
home is the calendar. If it doesn’t make it to the calendar,
we don’t do it. I look at the calendar every morning while
coffee brews and determine my day. Lists are the next
most important tool. I have one for groceries and one for
errands. My oldest is 9 and she has finally quit telling me
what we need and just puts it on a list. I love it. On my
errand day, I sit down and organize my list in the order I
want to make the stops and my grocery list in the order
of the aisles at the store. It saves backtracking, time, and
frustration. I don’t know how many times I have passed
the bank because my kids were screaming, fussing, and
arguing in the back seat about where they want to eat and
that they are hungry now. Then four stops down the road I
The key to how we are able to get it
all accomplished is organization.
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realize that the deposit is under the library over-due list. Or,
I would totally forget to stop and pick up my contact lens
that arrived two weeks ago and that I needed a month ago,
because my son decided to hold his drink between his legs
and squeezed it too hard and now his pants are wet, the
seat is wet and he wants to know why I turned that corner
too fast? A list is my compass and guide on those days.
Other minor but important organizational details
around the house are a school routine and my job as
the supervisor, not the worker bee. I’ve begun to assign
household chores to my children. Of course they can’t do
it alone at first, but after a month they get pretty good
at it. I’ve discovered if I can survive the whining and
complaining and making them do it over, it actually frees
me up to parent and it keeps them out of trouble. Is it
perfect? Absolutely not, but they are getting better, as long
as I inspect what I expect.
Organization at work evolves with technology. Due to our
location in LA (lower Alabama), we are subject to those
wonderful things called hurricanes. The biggest change
we made in our office was to go with a method called
paperless filing. Paperless filing is a type of computer
program that works like a file cabinet or several file
cabinets with a search box to enter names or a letter of the
alphabet. For example, I have set up in four file cabinets:
Wallace Bookkeeping and Tax Service, Econo Storage,
Sessions-Wallace Properties, and Personal.
In the Wallace Bookkeeping and Tax Service file cabinet,
each client has their own folder in which are sub-folders for
each year with their tax return, W-2s, signature sheets, and
any supporting documentation that we need to keep. We
can print from any program directly into the electronic file
cabinet or to the printer. To file paperwork the clients bring
in, we simply scan it into the electronic file cabinet. Before
e-file cabinets, when a storm was approaching, we had to
box up files and move them to a safe location then bring
them back and re-file them after the storm or threat of a
storm passed. Now we just pick up the laptops, server, and
back-ups and go home or to wherever we plan on riding
out the storm. Another awesome plus to being paperless is
no more lost files. Everything is right there on the desktop.
Just dream of what else you could be doing if you weren’t
looking for files or in our case how much money you can
save. We saved on toner, paper, file folders, and retired
three part-time paper chasers. A few other great inventions
we use are electronic appointment scheduling, PC connect
(so you can work from anywhere), and a good IT person.
There are no special designations needed to prepare taxes
but we are in favor of licensing preparers. I’ve corrected
many returns through the years by people who decided
that filling out tax returns couldn’t be that difficult;
so they’ve undertaken their own and all their family’s
and friend’s. Many have not taken advantage of all the
deductions they were entitled to, which resulted in lost
refunds. We’ve also seen inflated refunds that ultimately
had to be repaid, to the shock of the taxpayer when they
received the dreaded “love” letter from the IRS. Once your
taxes progress beyond a single person with a W-2, at least
check with a professional preparer every couple of years to
make sure your tax return is as it should be.
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I would advise anyone wanting to get into the field of
taxation to go to work with someone for several years to
gain one-on-one experience.
Ninety percent of your clients
will have basically the same
type of tax return but the other
10 percent will give you an
education in taxation. Knowing
how to research, who to contact,
and where to go for answers, is
99 percent of figuring out how to
help that 10 percent file a correct
return.
Why do we continue to do what we do? Our goal for this
business isn’t to make a fortune, although it would be nice,
but rather to be able to afford to spend time, lots of time,
with our children. Someone once asked, “If half of our life
is over, how many Saturdays do we have left? We decide
how we are going to spend them; so who or what is most
important?” John and I want to be able to drop and go at
a moments notice without having to coordinate with our
boss and/or “take vacation.” We want to be there for the
unexpected questions about life and living, the hows and
whys. Usually children don’t wait until supper time to ask
all those questions. They tend to crop up during the day at
odd times when we least expect them. Soon enough they
will be grown and gone and then
we will have plenty of time to
work.
Are there any negatives? Sure,
when you are self-employed,
work is always with you. The
guilt can be overwhelming
when the children want you
to play outside, but you can’t
because there are four clients
that need work to be done and
they wanted it yesterday. But we’ve realized that even
on a limited time schedule we spend more time with our
children than many parents do.
If I had it to do over again would I do it? Absolutely I would,
but quicker and with more determination and direction.
Looking back, I feel like we’ve stumbled into this way of
life. But you know what? I believe in God, so I know our
steps have been ordered and it’s been no accident. Would I
recommend being self-employed and homeschooling? Yes,
make a plan and go for it!
I would advise anyone
wanting to get into the field
of taxation to go to work with
someone for several years to
gain one-on-one experience.
Gerrie Lynn Wallace is a born-again Christian and has worked as children’s church teacher for 20 years. John,
her husband of 15 years, is her best friend and counterbalance. She has three beautiful miracles, Whitney age 9,
Lauren age 6, and Grant age 5. When she does have a few extra minutes, reading is her first choice for relaxation.
Writing has always been something she has been interested in trying. This was her first piece. Questions for
Gerrie Lynn can be addressed to: wallacetax@mchsi.com.
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HomeWork:
Tricks of the Trade
The Lord says, “For as we have many members in one body, and all members
have not the same office” (Romans 12:4, KJV). We all need support and
assistance in our daily endeavors. These final chapters are an effort to
support you, the reader, in your home-based business.

Most small business owners like to spend their time doing
what they love—serving their customers! Bookkeeping
may seem like a necessary evil in running a business,
but it is the number one predictor of success or failure
for small businesses. The Small Business Book by Robert
Hamilton, John W. English (Bridget Williams Books, 1993),
reports that a small business will have a survival rate of
79 percent if accounting records are kept monthly, but
that survival rate falls to 36 percent if records are only
gathered annually. Help yourself succeed by simply
keeping up with your records.
Record Keeping for Small Businesses
The “books” of any small business should record both
income and expenses for tax purposes,
but also to reveal how the business is
performing financially. I am amazed at how
many small business owners do not know
if they made a profit until I prepare their
tax returns. Good records act as a mirror
reflecting back to you, the owner, a picture
of your business. They can tell you which
months are the best for sales, how many
returns to expect, who is slow to pay, the
value of your inventory and which products
make the most profit.
There are three important types of records that you
should keep:
1. For most small businesses, the business checkbook
is the main source for entries in the business record
system. You should have a separate checking account
for your business and use it only for business expenses,
not personal spending. If you need to withdraw money
for your personal use, write a check to yourself or
transfer funds into your personal checking account.
Keep all your checkbook statements, canceled checks,
and deposit slips. I also strongly recommend using
duplicate checks.
2. Supporting documents include sales
slips, paid bills, invoices, receipts, and
credit card sales slips. These documents
contain information that you will need to
record in your books. Organize them by
categories according to the type of income
or expense. Some of my tax clients hand
me receipts organized by month, but it
is better to organize them by category.
Here are the most common categories for
small businesses (they correspond to the
categories on a small business tax return):
Keeping Finances Organized in
a Work-at-Home Business
By: Carol Topp, CPA
Bookkeeping . . .
is the number one
predictor of success
or failure for
small businesses.
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Advertising (including your website fees)
Transportation (mileage or actual expenses for
gas, oil, insurance, etc.)
Equipment and software purchases
Professional fees (to accountants and lawyers)
Contract labor (to hired professionals such as
editors, web designers, etc.)
Office supplies
Purchases of items for resale (i.e., inventory)
Shipping supplies
Utilities (including your cell phone and Internet
bills)
Wages paid to employees and payroll taxes
3. Keep copies of everything you mail to the IRS or to
state and city governments. Keep copies of all forms,
checks (or use duplicate checks) and letters sent to or
received from any government agency.
I recommend keeping paper records in an expanding
file folder, using each folder for a separate category of
expense. File receipts into folders after you have recorded
them in your bookkeeping system, whether it is on paper
or on your computer. Organize bank statements and official
forms and letters into file folders as well.
A Simple Bookkeeping System
There is no need to take a bookkeeping class in order
to manage your business finances. Instead, use a simple
method that involves single entry bookkeeping, not
double entry bookkeeping that is taught to accountants.
Just get some paper or a blank a spreadsheet program on
your computer and follow these easy steps:
1. Divide your paper into columns (office supply
stores sell columnar pads), use graph paper or create
a spreadsheet on the computer. Label your columns
Date, Check Number, Description, and finally Income and
Expense. These will be where you record everything
from your checking account and from your cash
spending.
2. Keep a page for each month (or a tab in a computer
spreadsheet). Record your income in one column and
your expenses in another. If you would like more detail,
you can have several columns of expenses such as
separate columns for Office Supplies, Advertising, etc.
(see Image A)
3. Total the Income and Expense columns each month.
Then carry the totals to a summary sheet like the one
below. Again, you can have several columns for your
major expenses as shown. You may also add columns
for purchases of inventory and mileage. (see Image B)
Image A
Month of: January
Date
Check Number
Description
Income Expense
1/05/200X
Advertising (website)
$20
1/10/200X
Income from Client X $250
1/11/200X
203
Office Supplies (ink)
$12
1/30/200X
204
Meet with CPA
$55
Total
$250
$87
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Using Software to Stay Organized
Many small business owners find that personal money
management software like Microsoft Money or Quicken
work well to organize their business finances. While not
designed for business use, these programs can certainly be
used to keep records in a small business. Personal money
management software has these advantages:
It may already be loaded on your computer.
You may be very familiar with the software from your
personal life.
Intuitive: these programs look just like a checkbook
register.
They can generate simple reports showing income
and expenses.
On the other hand, the disadvantages of personal money
management software include:
You cannot create invoices or send bills to your customers.
It is difficult to record payroll and payroll taxes.
Personal financial software will not add sales tax to
your sales.
They do not track inventory. If you are selling
products from an inventory, you will need to use a
small business accounting program.
If you need to send invoices, track inventory or desire
better reporting, you will need to consider accounting
software for small business such as QuickBooks or Microsoft
Office Accounting. You can hire someone to help you set
up the software for your particular needs. Knowledgeable
QuickBooks experts in your area can be found at http://
proadvisor.intuit.com/referral. Even if you use a computer
accounting system, you still need to keep your receipts,
bank statements and other supporting documents listed
above.
Working with an Accountant
Many small business owners delay working with an
accountant until they think they can afford it, but this may
be harmful to a new business. Knowledge that is too little,
Image B
Month Income Advertising Office Supplies Professional Fees Total Expenses Purchased Inventory
Miles
January
$250
$20
$12
$55
$87
$50
25
February $700
$75
$0
$0
$75
$200
10
March
$360
$50
$150
$150
$350
$0
65
Total
$1310
$145
$162
$205
$512
$250
100
This summary spreadsheet will make tax preparation easy. It will also help you to monitor your business every
month. You can quickly see where you are spending your money and whether you are making a profit, losing
money, or breaking even.
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too late can be very expensive. A friend called me the day
after she and her husband visited the IRS in a face-to-face
audit. They had been running a small business for three
years and had prepared their own tax returns. Unwisely,
they went to the audit without any professional assistance,
thinking, “We’re honest people; we have nothing to hide.”
Their honesty was not the issue; the IRS had questions
about their income tax return. Unwittingly, they had made
mistakes that any CPA (Certified Public Accountant) could
have caught. The audit was an unpleasant and expensive
experience for them, and I wish that they had asked a
professional to look over their tax return three years earlier.
I strongly recommend that you spend your first $100 of
profit on getting good business advice and your next $100
asking a CPA to review your tax return. Or better yet, give
your information (nicely organized as discussed above) to
your tax preparer and let them prepare the IRS return. In
addition to tax preparation, a professional accountant or
CPA can help your business in several ways.
Calculate estimated taxes (payments you make to
the IRS and to your state during the year).
Assist you with accurate record keeping.
Help you take all the deductions to which you are
entitled.
Determine if you can deduct some of your home
office expenses as a business expense.
Explain the pros and cons of forming a partnership
or becoming a corporation.
Calculate depreciation of business equipment as a
tax deduction.
Assist you in preparing payroll taxes and filing payroll
reports.
Since no one is an expert at everything, I encourage you to
focus on what you do best—running your business—and
leave tax and accounting matters to those who know them
best. To keep costs low, you can do all the bookkeeping
and data entry yourself and only meet with your
accountant when needed.
Find an accountant that has a heart to teach you about the
financial side of your business. You should be comfortable
with him or her and feel free to ask questions. If you walk
out of a meeting with your advisor feeling confused and
uncomfortable, you need to find another accountant. To
Many small business owners delay
working with an accountant until
they think they can afford it, but this
may be harmful to a new business.
Find an accountant that has a heart
to teach you about the financial side
of your business.
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find a helpful professional, ask other small business owners
in your area for their accountant’s contact information or
call your state CPA society (find a listing at http://www.
taxsites.com/cpa-societies.html).
Organizing Your Information at Tax Time
If you have been keeping a record of your income and
expenses as explained above, you will find tax preparation
easy. In addition to the records of your income and
expenses by category, your tax preparer will need the
following information:
Information on your home office if it is used
exclusively and regularly for your business (square
footage, value of home, utilities, mortgage interest,
insurance, etc.)
Date and purchase price of equipment used for more
than one year (such as computers and printers)
Miles driven for business. The IRS requires a written
record, not an estimate.
Business use (as a percent of total use) for shared
expenses such as cell phone and Internet use
Sales tax you collected on your sales
Contributions to IRAs and self-employed retirement
plans (SEP IRA, Keogh, etc.)
Value of your inventory at the end of the year
There may be some organization needed to successfully
keep records in a small business. Doing your record
keeping in small bits all year long is much easier than
waiting until tax time to gather up all your receipts. Do
yourself a favor and start a simple record keeping system
now. You will have a better idea of how your business is
performing and will find gathering information for your tax
preparer much simpler.
Carol Topp, CPA is owner of www.HomeschoolCPA.com, a website designed to help homeschool leaders and
organizations. She is the author of Homeschool Co-ops: How to Start Them, Run Them and Not Burn Out. She
runs a home-based accounting practice assisting families, small business owners, and nonprofit organizations
with tax preparation and accounting. Living in Cincinnati, Ohio, with her husband, Carol is in her eleventh year
of homeschooling her two daughters.
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Organization is important in every home and in every aspect
of life. This is a given, and mandated by God. “Let all things be
done decently and in order.” (1 Corinthians 14:40, KJV)
When a family decides to homeschool, there is additional
need for organization simply because of the additional
wear and tear on the house, and all the extra books,
materials, and supplies required for homeschooling. Add
on a home-based business, and it is essential to have an
intentional plan to keep home and work and life organized.
The first step toward organization is prioritization. It is a
fallacy to think that all aspects of life are equally important.
Pray and ask God to guide you as you set up a priority list.
In my home, I’ve actually written a list of my priorities,
and I refer to it often. The immortal Lord, of course, is first.
I devote time daily to prayer and study. I have found it
exceedingly helpful to take a day and speak to God before I
take on anything new.
My husband, Kurt, is my second priority, followed by my
children. Kurt and I have had our differences, but keeping
him at the top of my mortal priorities has helped us work
out many things. My homeschool and work schedules
are planned around his. My outside activities often have
to come with the assurance either that my children are
welcome, or that there is childcare available, because
his schedule
fluctuates, and we
often do not know
exactly what it will
be until the day
before. I know that
as I am keeping
Kurt at the top of my mortal priority list, he is keeping me
at the top of his. When he is available to spend time with
the children, often in the morning before he heads off to
work, or on Saturdays, he is completely open to them so
that I can take a moment to myself either for the above-
mentioned time with God, or just to be able to use the
bathroom all by myself.
My work is fourth on the priority list. This means that I must
appropriate time for work only after my obligations to God,
husband, and family have been met.
You will find as you prioritize that there will be some
activities that become less important to you. It is vital to
look at everything you do and see where it fits into your
priority list, if anywhere. There are many good things
I have done in the past that I no longer participate in
because, although they were beneficial, they do not fit
into the priority list of what is best for me and my family
at the moment.
Organization for Home and Work
By: Katy Daum
“Let all things be done
decently and in order.”
(1 Corinthians 14:40, KJV)
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Obvious items of low priority, such as watching television or
playing on the computer, were easy to cut–on paper. They
still were difficult to cut in actuality. I had come to enjoy
several different TV programs, and would justify going on
the computer “just for a minute” to check email. This would
often turn into marathon sessions online fooling around as
I got distracted by one website after another. For me, it was
easier to set a time when I could use the computer and then
set a timer so that there was a limit for how long I could be
on. I have not been able to quit television cold turkey, but
as a recovering addict, I can proudly say that there is now
only one hour a week I spend with my husband watching
a program we both enjoy, and one hour a week I spend
previewing programs my children enjoy.
The priority list has also helped me avoid the dreaded
disease of “yes-itis.” I’m sure you are familiar with this
disease. It’s when you feel compelled to say things like,
“Sure, I can do that,” “Yes, I would be happy to help,” or “I’m
flattered you’d
ask, thank you! I
can’t wait to get
started.” when
you are asked to
do something.
With the priority
list in mind, I
know that God
is always first
and in control
of what I should
be doing. I need to present any new opportunity to Him
before I commit.
This means that instead of “yes,” I either say, “Thank you
so much for thinking of me, I would love to help, but I
simply can’t devote enough time to it right now in order
to do a good job.” or “Let me think it over and talk with
my husband about it, and I’ll get back to you.” I always like
to give a specific day that I will answer an invitation to
participate in something. This gives me a deadline so that
I don’t procrastinate about it, as well as letting the other
person know when to expect an answer.
It’s also been incredibly helpful for me to keep in mind
that when someone asks if I can do something, it is not
an academic question about my particular skills, abilities,
and interests. The question that begins, “Can you . . .” really
means, “Considering all that you are already doing; any
upcoming commitments you have; the ongoing needs of
your family; your need for rest as a matter of health; and
finally, your skills, abilities, and interests, would you be able
to . . . ” It took me 44 years to figure this out, and it’s still a
struggle to hear someone ask if I can do something using
this new translation.
Once priorities are established, then it is time to
concentrate on organizing time and materials to make the
best use of them. I have always found it easier to organize
my time than my materials, so I work on time first. It’s been
my experience that sometimes taking the path of least
resistance in these matters is beneficial since you will find
Once priorities are
established, then it is
time to concentrate on
organizing time and
materials to make the
best use of them.
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some early success to sustain you and keep you going
through the tougher times ahead.
Time management begins with a plan. After talking over
the basics of what you want to do and what your priorities
are with God and your spouse, schedule a planning
meeting with yourself. Seriously. Block out a couple of
hours on the calendar, get a sitter if you need to, and
take the time to pencil out a schedule for yourself and
your children. What are your goals for the next, say, three
months? What will you need to do to get there? How much
time will it realistically take to make things happen in your
life, the lives of your family members, and your business?
Don’t forget to include time for travel to and from any
activities or events outside of your home, time for food
preparation and cleanup, and time for rest. These, what
I call “cushion times,” are the kinds of things I most often
forget to factor in.
Schedule a planning meeting with yourself every three
months or so. You can look at your goals and see if what
you are doing is advancing the cause. You can see if the
schedule you worked out is realistic or if it needs to be
adjusted.
Planning leads to scheduling, which leads to more
planning. Some families do very well with a schedule that
is worked out to the minute. Some families do better with
a general sense of flow for the day, with a few specifics
scheduled in.
I have found the most difficult time to keep on track is near
the end of the month. Traditional calendars show only a
month at a time, and I perpetually would have difficulty
with the idea that, for example, May 1 would come the day
after April 30. It was on a different page in the calendar.
Shouldn’t there be some sort of buffer week while I
remember to flip the page?
I found a dry erase calendar that has four movable weeks.
This way, I always see the current week and the following
three no matter where in the month we are. It’s been
wonderful for our family. My daughter has taken on the
task of keeping the calendar updated. Another alternative
would be to have two calendars posted, one showing the
current month and one showing the coming month.
One of the most important activities on the schedule for
me is what we call “de-clutter days.” Every so often, the
children and I go through all of our worldly possessions
and make piles of items to keep, donate, or toss. We break
this up into a day for clothing, a day for toys, and a day for
school-related materials.
One of the most important activities
on the schedule for me is what we
call “ de-clutter days.”
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Anything that is broken, missing too many parts, or
otherwise unusable by anyone is discarded. If something is
in good working condition, or can be easily repaired but is
no longer wanted, it is put in the “donate” pile. I also include
in this pile anything that has not been removed from storage
without good reason for more than a year. Items that we like
and use and can find a place to store, we keep.
The key here for us is to ask the following questions about
every item we are considering:
Question: Do I like it?
Answer: The answer, of course, must be “yes.” An
answer of “maybe” or “sometimes” is not acceptable
without good reason.
Question: Will I use it?
Answer: Here, an answer of “yes” is not good enough.
There needs to be a definite plan about how the item
will be used. We do not want to keep, for example,
empty soup cans in case we might need them for a
craft project in the indeterminate future.
Question: When will I use it?
Answer: This question helps specify the use of a
particular item. There are things that are used only
seasonally, such as sleds or camping gear, which we
do want to keep. There are also items that would fall
into the “might use it someday” category that must be
discarded or donated.
Question: Where will I keep it?
Answer: Ah, now we come to the crucial question. I’ve
found that whatever we have tends to expand to fill
whatever amount of storage space there is available
and then some. Everything needs to have a specific
place where it is stored. During “de-clutter days,”
everything must be returned to its home with enough
space left over to keep any additional stuff we might
accumulate in the next six months or so.
These “de-clutter days” are the cornerstone to the
organization of materials in our home. Keeping the number
of items we are storing to a minimum has been very
advantageous. That said, we still have a lot of stuff!
The homeschool things are all kept together in each
child’s space in a box. Their books, notebooks, supplies,
and materials are all stored in this one space. I have a
homeschool box as well for my books and materials that
are in daily use. We, of course, also have bookshelves full
of wonderful books, and completed notebooks. I do try
to only purchase books we will be using daily for many
months, or literary classics that would be a boon to any
family’s home. We make extensive use of the local library
for books that are good, but have not been deemed worthy
of space in the bookcase. These are stored in a space
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designated for library books, which helps cut down on the
frantic searches for that one runaway book that needs to
be returned before it is seriously overdue.
Any home business will also have paper, reference
materials, other supplies and possibly stock to store until it
sells. Everything needs to be stored in a manner that makes
sense for your home and how often you use the item. I
keep current paperwork in a file box under my computer
table and reference books on a shelf in the same area. Old
paperwork and materials I use only seasonally are stored
on shelves in plastic bins in the basement. Our basement
is not always dry, so the plastic bins help me feel secure
about keeping things down there.
Are things always perfectly organized at my home? Of
course not. As I am constantly reminding my children, no
one is or ever was always perfect other than our Lord and
Savior, Jesus Christ. There are days when I forget to plug in
the crock pot; days when we’re hitting the chocolate chips
before 10:00 a.m.; and days when my home could easily be
mistaken for a landfill.
We live in grace by faith. We continue to make an effort, to
fail, and to improve as we try again.
Katy Daum, a recovering television addict and “yes-itis” survivor, lives with her husband, Kurt, and their three
children, aged 12, 10, and 2 in suburban Cincinnati, OH. They are finishing their sixth year as a homeschooling
family. Katy is the manager of her church bookstore, editor for the 55+ Club newsletter, and an online tutor
for www.Tutor.com. She also manages her homeschool co-op website at www.masoncoop.org. She enjoys
spending time with her family, reading, camping, and crafts. Visit Katy online at www.ktdaum.com or email
her at katy@ktdaum.com.
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I have had the privilege of pre-reading this book before it
became available in order to write the epilogue. As I have
read through each unique story, one main theme has
repeated itself every time: God’s calling to open a home-
based business.
Whether the person started out following God’s leading,
or found Him along the way, each one was called to begin
a home business in some way, shape, or form. In many of
the stories here and in others I have heard through the
years, someone either had a special talent, interest, or
previous experience in a service or product before they
considered creating a home business around it. Most home
business owners are drawn into it one way or another and
it becomes a natural process that is usually well suited to
the person running the business. God’s hand is obvious as
the business grows, evolves, and income is generated.
It isn’t always easy. It isn’t always quick. A good, solid
business takes years to grow and requires dedication,
sacrifice, and perseverance; all of which you have read
about in each chapter of this book.
There is a great deal to learn and struggle through to set up
a home business. Learning how to balance home, family,
church, homeschooling, and any other obligations and
responsibilities you may have with the continual needs of
the business is the challenge. Each personal story you have
read is a true-life experience and each one is very unique.
Look beyond their personal experience and outline the
steps that were taken, the insight learned, the challenges
faced, the time it has taken and the eventual rewards
earned. If you begin a home business you will face those
very same issues. This book will make an excellent guide
for you as each person’s story shows ingenuity, endurance,
patience, faith and commitment to follow through with
their vision of working from home.
There are specific skills and information needed in order
to run a home business and anyone considering a home
business must take the time to learn these or their business
will eventually fail.
The following are just a few of many skills every potential
business owner should know or be able to do.
Know the local business laws and codes that affect
your business.
Have basic accounting skills or learn how to use
QuickBooks and hire an accountant.
Know basic tax laws that affect your business–
ignorance is not an excuse!
Write a 5-year business plan–
a crucial first step that
many people overlook!
Understand the role that marketing plays in
business, and use that information wisely–marketing
is not just advertising!
Understand the importance of a professional looking
Epilogue
By: Rebekah Wilson
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website–which can directly affect your online sales,
business image and your business reputation!
In each story you have read, homeschooling children have
been shown to work well with running a home business.
Each family had a basic schedule that worked well for
them and they were able to be flexible with that schedule,
which is a necessity when you are juggling both work and
schooling.
If you are considering opening a home business–pray
about it. See where your calling is and begin doing your
research. Public libraries can provide you with unlimited
information on any type of business you may be interested
in. Reading and learning from books is an excellent way
to begin your journey of working at home–take notes!
Consider attending community college courses or seminars
that will help you expand your knowledge and give you
a possible edge over your competitors. Check with your
city and state to find out what is required to set up a home
business–most cities require a business license even if you
work from home.
Most of all pay attention to what is happening. If you are
going in the wrong direction, the Lord will let you know. Be
ready and alert to listen to His leading, and enjoy the new
adventure in your life.
Rebekah Wilson
Hope Chest Legacy
www.HopeChestLegacy.com
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The Final Word
By: Mari Almon
I never would have imagined myself as a sales person—
especially not working from home and earning an income
that rivals my husband’s! God took me down a long path to
get here. Though I could not see where He was leading, He
knew all along. HE is so very good!
Looking back over my childhood, I realize God used my
mom to prepare me perfectly for the future. Mom taught
me to do my best at whatever I did, and convinced me
that I could be anything I wanted if I would be persistent.
I learned, by watching my mom’s example, the benefits of
having a good attitude no matter what the circumstance.
Once when something difficult had just happened, I asked
her how she could smile and seem happy at that moment.
I can still hear her answer: “Mari Lynn, if you smile, the
world smiles with you; cry, and you cry alone.” Now, I know
that’s not always true, but I still learned the value of a good
attitude. She told me to press on, to not be afraid to ask
the hard questions, and to never take “no” for an answer if
I didn’t believe it was right. When I was a teenager I recall
her laughingly saying to me, “Mari Lynn, you are always
going to rub someone the wrong way; don’t worry about
it! Ask the question!” (Okay, so some of you who know me
or work with me are laughing right now because you finally
see where I get the tenacious behavior!)
When I was 25 years old I was working as a corporate
auditor with General Electric, and I made a move into a
regional administrative position with Trane Company. The
summer that I turned 26, God intervened in my life and
saved me, and I gave HIM my heart. I joined a loving, Christ-
centered church, where I met my wonderful husband.
Right before Steve and I were married I retired from the
outside workforce. We both agreed that we wanted a
family and that I would stay at home with them. We hoped
to homeschool some day.
Over the next three years I gave birth to two beautiful
children, Elizabeth and Jonathan. Before Jonathan was
born, Steve lost his job and medical insurance, sending
us in a completely new direction. We were worried but
confident that God would sustain us. Steve tried insurance
sales and a few other things while we quickly fell into debt.
Yet we stood on God’s promise in Jeremiah 29:11-14:
11For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith
the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give
you an expected end. 12Then shall ye call upon me,
and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken
unto you. 13And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye
shall search for me with all your heart. 14And I will be
found of you, saith the Lord: and I will turn away your
captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and
from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the
Lord; and I will bring you again into the place whence I
caused you to be carried away captive.
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I decided to open a family day care/preschool to earn extra
money. At the time, this occupation seemed best suited to
our goal of me staying home with my two small children.
I wanted a quality preschool experience, but we certainly
couldn’t afford one. My little school was modeled after a
regular church preschool. It was only open during “normal
school days,” so I had holidays off with my own children.
I worked hard to make sure I was giving my children the
right “educational environment,” which was good for
everybody. Before the end of my first year in business, my
little school had a waiting list and was nationally accredited.
Within eighteen months I began writing my own
curriculum and teaching other teachers and family day
care providers approved early childhood classes (offered by
the state of Georgia) on weekends and some nights. This
worked out nicely because Steve could be home with the
children. God is good!
As my children got older I closed the preschool to focus
more on our two children’s growing needs, and I continued
to teach early childhood classes at night and on the
weekends. It was a struggle financially for me to stay
home. When the children were middle school age, I was re-
introduced to a multi-level business I had looked at years
before. It was one of those GOD Moments.” I just knew this
was something to follow up on. It was a typical multi-level
business in which you sell products, get others to sell the
products, they find others too, and you mentor them all and
so on. Our children could go wherever we went, and our
mentors accepted them and treated them like their own.
We both dove into the training system and learned
everything we could. We listened to our mentors, learned
how to budget our money, read thousands of books,
and listened to copious training tapes. We attended
conferences all over the place, and we applied what we
learned. It was FUN meeting new people and making
friends everywhere, and I loved mentoring! God was
faithful in teaching us so much about ourselves and helped
us to grow—and our business grew too. It seemed that if
we could work hard enough and fast enough, we could
make this work, but God still had a different plan.
As the business grew, it became evident that our children
needed more of our time. This was difficult because we
were stretched so thin. My husband worked full-time and
was involved in the multi-level business each night. He was
exhausted and growing discouraged, and finally decided
he wanted to quit. My heart was breaking for my children;
I was sensitive to their growing needs. So we backed off
from the business and continued praying.
Not too long after that, we heard God telling us to change
churches. He told us specifically where we should attend.
Seeing this as a new beginning, we promised each other
we would start fresh and let the multi-level business go
entirely. It was then that I began exploring work-from-
home opportunities again. I was reading a popular
homeschool message forum when I read one of those
strings of messages that started out with “What do you
do to earn extra money to stay at home?” There were
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probably thirty or forty answers: “I care for children in my
home,” “I do nursing care at night,” “I do this or that multi-
level business,” “I write,” and then there was this one . . . ”I
work for a magazine; I write reviews about homeschooling
products,” signed Kate, and when I read it, there went that
GOD Moment” thing again!
I replied to Kate’s post, asking her if she would mind
emailing me privately to tell me more. She answered
and explained that there were only openings in the sales
department at that time, and that I would earn commission
on what I sold—no salary—and if I was interested she
would forward my inquiry to the right person. I thought,
“SALES!!??” I was not a sales person, but because I felt God
moving me in that direction, I asked her to forward my
inquiry. Before long, I was asked to join the sales team. I
became a real sales person with a media kit and a list of
companies to call. I had no clue what I was doing, but
I believed with all my heart that God had directed me
here to The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, and I made a
commitment (to myself) to give it my all.
Steve and I kept praying. I have to be honest: it seemed
like no one was listening during that time. The telephone
sales work wasn’t hard and I was selling some ads, but the
learning curve was enormous. We were desperately broke,
and both my teens were going through very rough times
and life wasn’t FUN. I plugged away at the phone calls and
purposed to not give up because this was what God had
given me. I poured myself into my teens because they
needed my support.
Sure enough, God was faithful. One after another the
breakthroughs came for my children. They were both saved
and transformed into new creatures in Christ, and their
lives began to change. I am so grateful for the work God
continues to do in them!
However, we were still financially strapped and headed
downward. About that time, my husband saw a job listing
in the church bulletin for a part-time electrician. He leaned
toward me while pointing to the job description and
whispered in my ear, “This is my new job,” and grinned.
I just smiled back. Two days later my husband was our
church’s new part-time electrician! Steve was working
almost eighty hours a week between the two jobs, but we
had our financial feet on solid ground again for the first
time in a long time. He was working with people we knew
and loved, which made the work load lighter.
By this time I’d been working at The Old Schoolhouse®
Magazine for almost two years. I continued phone calling
and selling ads, and I was doing pretty well, but it wasn’t
enough to bring Steve home from the second job. I kept
praying and seeking the long-term solution, because while
the church position was great, I knew my husband couldn’t
maintain that eighty-hour-a-week life forever, and he was
looking very tired.
One day after a church service, my pastor came up to me
and said, “I got a word for you today. I don’t know what it
means, but I know you will.” He said to me, “It’s here now.” I
got that same “GOD Moment” jolt that I had gotten before!
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I played those words back over and over again in my mind
and prayed, “What’s here, Lord?”
The following Monday morning when I sat down at my
desk and began planning my calls, a warm, fresh feeling
fell over me, and I knew . . . this work is here now! I thanked
God, and I reaffirmed my promise to myself to give this
work all the focus I could muster up. That was three years
ago. My income doubled that year. I was offered some
new responsibilities, and I began to bring on a sales team
and mentor and train them. My income doubled the next
year too. My husband was able to quit the second job and
spend evenings at home. I just realized yesterday that my
income has doubled again since last year! God is so good!
As I look back over the years, I can see how God has always
been faithful. He has been with me and molded me from
the beginning. Through every turn in life He has given me
new skills that would eventually prepare me for where I am
sitting right now.
I love my work at The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine! I work
with godly people. I am regularly given new challenges to
learn and tackle. I have FUN meeting new people every day.
It’s a joy to talk to them, whether they buy something or
not. I laugh with them, sometimes cry with them, and, on
occasion, pray with them. I am blessed to have a stellar sales
team. I work with regular homeschooling moms and dads
and grandparents from all over the country; the majority of
them have no previous sales experience. I have the privilege
of training and coaching and encouraging them.
I look for important qualifications when selecting
sales team members. I’ll take the following skills and
characteristics over “sales experience” any day of the week:
excellent written and oral communication skills, the time
to dedicate to the task, super responsiveness, a teachable
spirit willing to grow in unexpected ways, persistence,
focus, and a vision for the future. These qualities will always
land them a sales team position.
Commission-based sales work is not a quick fix for
financial trouble, nor is it for the faint of heart, but if
you think you have what it takes, email me (malmon@
TheHomeschoolMagazine.com). You never know what God
has for you around the next turn.
Mari Almon, Senior Advertising Services, lives in northern Atlanta. Married to Steve, they are both thrilled that
their children had the opportunity to graduate high school from home.
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Appendix: Additional Helpful Internet Resources
Compiled by: Katy Daum
Several of our authors have fascinating websites for their home-based businesses. Below are some additional resources.
Bed & Breakfasts
http://msucares.com/business_assistance/homebusiness/
b&b.htm–This website has lots of great general
information about starting a B&B, although some of
the more legal and technical information is specific to
Mississippi. Be sure to investigate the requirements and
regulations in your own state.
http://web1.msue.msu.edu/imp/modtd/33420030.html
“Starting A Bed & Breakfast/Farm Vacation Business”
Bookkeeping
http://www.howtoadvice.com/BookkeepingBusiness
“How to start a bookkeeping business at home”
http://www.aipb.org/–“American Institute of Professional
Bookkeepers.” Many helpful links and resources
Crafts
http://www.craftbusinesshome.com/–“The Free Guide on
How To Turn Your Craft into a Profitable Home Business”
http://artsandcrafts.about.com/od/arti4/a/032307.htm
“Starting a Craft Business 101”
http://www.theartfulcrafter.com/–“Everything You Need to
Make & Sell Original Crafts”
Direct Sales
http://www.myndsn.com/–“The National Direct Sales
Network’s purpose is to bring together direct sellers from
diverse companies, offer them the opportunity to help
themselves through active networking, and to grow both
personally and professionally through our local chapter
networks.”
http://www.mydswa.org/–“You’re invited to become a part
of a community that offers encouragement, education and
ideas for growing your network marketing or party plan
business.”
http://www.dsa.org/–“DSA is the national trade association
of the leading firms that manufacture and distribute goods
and services sold directly to consumers.”
Finances
http://www.homebiztools.com/bookkeep.htm–“An Easy
Bookkeeping System For Your Business”
Graphic Design and Screen Printing
http://nomediakings.org/doityourself/howto_silkscreen_
posters_and_shirts.html–“How to silkscreen posters and
shirts”
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SS2ntWPMICc–“Etsy
How-To: Screen-printing & You video”
http://www.aiga.org/–“AIGA, the professional association
for design, is the place design professionals turn to first
to exchange ideas and information, participate in critical
analysis and research and advance education and ethical
practice.”
Medical Transcription
http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos271.htm–information from
the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
http://www.mtdaily.com/–“Medical Transcription
Networking Center”
Online Ventures
http://www.ecomresourcecenter.com/index.html–“Your
Internet guide for doing business online”
http://www.efuse.com/Plan/e-commerce_basics.html
Selling your wares on the web
Organization
http://ezinearticles.com/?Home-Business-Organization-
Tips&id=1074603–“Home business organization tips”
http://www.homeorganizeit.com/index.html–“If you would
like to make more time for your family and/or home business,
you’ve come to the right place. Home Organize It! is a sister
site to WAHM Build It! a Web site dedicated to empowering
moms to be able to work at home. Our aim here is to help
busy moms organize today’s multi-purpose homes.”
http://ezinearticles.com/?How-To-Organize-Your-Home-
Business-for-Success&id=395023–“How To Organize Your
Home Business for Success”
Pets & Pet Care
http://www.petbusinesscentral.com–“a business either
directly or indirectly related to dogs, cats and other animals
can be a profitable part-time home business or full-time
career . . . Browse this website for specific information and
advice on a wide variety of careers and businesses related
to pets, including pet sitting, pet photography and even
pet psychology!”
http://www.petbusiness.com– “an online magazine for the
pet business.” Paid paper subscriptions are also available.
Publishing
http://www.fonerbooks.com/cornered.htm–informative
blog about POD publishing, E-Books, and self publishing
Travel Agents
http://www.hometravelagency.com/–“If you’re thinking
about starting a home-based travel agency, or if you’re
just not sure this is the right move for you, or if you have
questions about how to go about it, this site is for you.
Here you’ll find articles, tips, opinions, and facts that will
contribute to your knowledge of this exciting new wrinkle in
the travel distribution system.” Some items on this website
are for sale, but much of the information is at no charge.
http://www.homebasedtravelagent.com/–“You will find
information here about becoming a home-based travel agent.”
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http://www.hometravelagent.net/–“This is a website that is
for and about the home based travel agent. The site is run
and managed by a home based travel agent who wants to
share his experiences with other home based travel agents.
The main ingredient of the website is a podcast produced
for home based travel agents but you will find discussions
about travel news, cool places to visit and an occasional
sound seeing tour.”
Writing
http://www.writers-nook.com/–“This site is filled with
resources that we pray will help you on your journey into
writing professionally.”
http://www.writefromhome.com/–“Helping writers
manage kids and clips under one roof.” This website
offers many resources for a fee, but there is some good
information available at no charge.
http://www.right-writing.com/–“Right Writing Teaches
Skills and Provides Opportunities.” Some materials for sale.
Lots of information available at no charge.
General Resources
http://www.sba.gov/–“U.S. Small Business Association”
http://www.at-homeworks.com/–“an online guide and
resource community for moms working from home,
and anyone wanting to find a home based job or start a
home business.” There is some information available here
at no charge, and other information requires a paid site
membership.
http://www.powerhomebiz.com/–“Your source of
information, tools and resources for starting, managing
and growing a home business.” Links and resources for
many different kinds of home businesses.
http://www.morebusiness.com/–“Your one stop small
business resource center”
http://www.entrepreneur.com/–online version of the in-
print magazine
http://www.internetbasedmoms.com/–“Work at Home
Moms Internet Business Advice & Idea Center”
http://www.mommyshelperonline.com/–“Business and
family resources for mom”
The Secretary of State website for each individual state
provides forms and information about doing business
in the state, and support for small businesses. Doing an
Internet search for a specific state name plus “Secretary
of State” will result in a link to the site. Many states, if
not all, offer inexpensive or free training and support for
small businesses under the auspices of this branch of the
government. Look for links to Small Business Development,
Small Business Support, or something similar from the
Secretary of State main website.
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