If you’re a single mom with cash flow issues, you need a way to bring in money fast. Starting a home business can get that job done, but it has to be the right business to work with your life.
That can be especially tricky if you
There are dozens, probably hundreds of websites out there with super long lists of business you can start. A lot of them assume you have tons of free time that you can devote to writing or blogging or bookkeeping or other gigs that require special skills or focused concentration. But if you’re taking care of kids and trying to earn money at the same time, those kinds of businesses just aren’t realistic.
Others involve shelling out money to get started – another unrealistic aspect for many single moms who are struggling to make ends meet.
But there are legitimate businesses you can start that will bring in a worthwhile amount of cash, work around your schedule, can be done with the kids in tow, don’t require specialized skills or training, and won’t cost you anything to launch. (I’m not saying these will be fun to do with your kids, just that’s it’s possible to do them with constant interruptions and split attention.)
Decide what types of errands you’re willing to do. Some typical gigs include things like:
Gigs to avoid when you’re doing this with kids include:
Once you’ve got a few repeat clients, you can set up specific days for errands (grocery shopping on Monday, post office and dry cleaner on Tuesday) to make the best use of your errand-running time.
If you want to do this type of job but don’t have the energy to start a business, you can sign up with an errand-running service like TaskRabbit … but you won’t get paid as much.
What you need to get started:
Decide what types of jobs you’ll be comfortable doing. Some typical tasks include:
Gigs to avoid when you’re doing this with kids around include:
Copyediting jobs may come with tight turnaround times – it’s often the last thing that happens before posting or publishing – so make sure you can block out enough time to meet critical deadlines before you accept any projects. At first, you may want to take on any jobs you can find, but you’ll end up with more repeat clients (and the ability to charge higher fees) if you specialize in a particular area (like lifestyle blog posts or educational materials). And if you have any special expertise – like legal, financial, or medical, for example – you can score more technical, higher-paying gigs.
Average pay: $25/hour
What you need to get started:
Some areas you could find this type of work include:
These types of gigs can be done with kids around (as long as you can concentrate enough to catch every mistake or inconsistency). Make sure to schedule client calls when the kids are at school or sleeping, or when someone else can keep an eye on them.
What about getting paid?
When you’re an independent contractor (meaning you don’t work as an employee), you’ll have to invoice your clients and wait for them to pay you. Make sure you have an agreement in writing that spells out how and when you’ll be paid. For example: “Freelance copy-editor will be paid $25 per hour within 30 days of returning the edited manuscript.” OR “I charge $25 per hour for running errands and will bill you weekly. Expenses must be prepaid or reimbursed daily.”
When you finish the work, invoice your clients right away. A lot of small/solo business owners (and your side gig is a business) forget to bill their clients, or bill them weeks or months later. All that does is keep you from getting paid.
For new clients, it’s a good idea to get a down payment, like 30%-50% up front before you do any work. The truth is, some clients won’t pay. Some will pay late. And some will be perfect payers – those will be the clients you stick with. By getting at least some money upfront, you won’t be totally screwed if a client doesn’t pay – and you’ll know not to work for them again.
You’ll also be responsible for paying all of the income taxes, including self-employment taxes. That means making estimated tax payments every quarter – if not, you could get hit with IRS penalties when you file your tax return next April.
Remember, you’re a business now – and that means you can deduct business expenses. So keep track of receipts, mileage, and anything you buy to keep your business going.