Becoming a Work-At-Home Mom: Learning Through Failure (Part 3)

Wahm

Last time in our Becoming a Work-at-Home Mom series I shared how I had to stop working as a mother's helper due to my pregnancy and while that was a huge cut in our income, it also was what lit a fire in my belly to learn everything I possibly could as fast as I could about earning money from home.

I began with small things, like taking surveys, mystery shopping, getting paid to read emails. Once I became proficient in those, I started scratching my brain for more ideas. 

One idea I had was to teach creative writing classes out of our home. I'd always loved writing and thought that probably homeschool moms would jump at the opportunity to enroll their children in creative writing classes–especially if they were very inexpensively priced.

I spent hours writing up advertisements to place in homeschool newsletters and had visions of at least 40 children signing up. I excitedly strategized how I could break the classes up and handle a large number of children and I eagerly calculated numbers and was expecting a good earning potential from these classes. All in all, I was stoked.

Problem was, instead of 40 children signing up as I'd hoped, only 4 signed up. So much for my big plans!

Needless to say, the turn out was very disappointing to me. I thought God had clearly directed me to do these classes and I was confident He was going to bring dozens and dozens of children to them. I worried about how on earth we were going to pay our bills since my big idea had pretty much totally flopped. I wanted to quit and throw my hands up in despair. But I couldn't because I'd already made a commitment to teach these children–all 4 of them–and I had to see it through.

When I look back at those classes and the measly four sign-ups, I realize that not only did that experience prepare me for some greater failures I'd have on down the road, it also taught me that it's okay if things don't turn out like we are expecting. We can still carry on and do our best whether we have four students or forty students or 400 students. Whatever the outcome of our efforts, what matters most is that we give it our best.

I've slowly learned over the past few years that failure of some
kind is inevitable when you have your business or are trying to start
working from home. Everything just isn't going to turn out exactly like
you expected. In fact, much of the time, things will be a lot harder
and a lot less successful than you planned or hoped or dreamed.

Contrary to what I thought in the beginning, I've come to realize that failure is my friend. I've learned much more through failure than I have through success.

The creative writing classes were only the start of my flopped endeavors and learning through failure. Next time, I'll tell you about a much bigger work-at-home failure and how it turned out to be one of the best things which ever happened to me.

To be continued…

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Comments

  1. Katie (theprincessfarm) says

    Thank you! I am considering starting a work from home position from my husband’s company. I am a little worried about it, but you have reminded me that even if it doesn’t totally work out- the experience will help me in the long run.

  2. Lana says

    I too had a work at home failure with an at-home spa company. We were moving so that my hubbie could go to seminary and getting ready to cut our income in half. I was sure God would bless my attempts, but it was a several hundred dollar flop. Still, you often learn more from the failures than the successes!

  3. says

    Failure is a difficult thing to swallow at times. I think I need to remember to pray ‘Your’ will be done (not mine) when I make plans, etc. My daughter wants to sell all the little clay puppies that she’s worked on – she’s asking for my help. The problem is I’m learning along the way too & I’m not a risk-taker. :)

  4. says

    No matter how hard it may be to experience failure, just remember that each time you fail you are one step closer to that success moment!

    Once, in a job interview I told the interviewer that one of my biggest problems was how many times I end up failing because I try so many different things. The interview then said – but how is that a failure, if that means you succeed more than most?

    Good point!

  5. Tami Madsen says

    :) You are exactly right about failure! You should read an amazing book I just finished reading called Go For No. It’s AWESOME! It helped me realize that if I make goals for how many no’s I get…that I will get yes’s without really trying :) read it…it’s amazing!

  6. says

    I tried to sell at a craft show / holiday bazaar one year. It was at a church near a busy road and my sister in law joined with me to share a table so I thought it would be a great way to earn some money for Christmas shopping. I was working on my masters degree at the time and we had absolutely NO money.

    At the end of the day, we only sold enough to cover the fee for our table. The only good thing that came of it was a day chatting with my sister in law!

  7. says

    I can relate to the craft bazzar gal because I have tried to sell crafts and homemade items before only to realize that it barely pays for supplies and definitely doesn’t pay for all the time it takes!

    I love your creative writing idea! That’s something I could do someday! I had never heard of that specific idea and now I’m excited because that would be something I would love to do for extra cash perhaps when my kids are older. I appreciate you sharing about the tough side of working at home and the flops that grew you stronger.

    I did find the second set of comments on the financial post. I feel like an idiot, but in my defense I looked for the arrow once before you told me and once after and still missed it twice!

  8. says

    Hello,

    Loved your post! Yes, failure is hard, but somehow God uses what we think of as failures to get us where He wants us. What a neat thing!

    You inspired me to write up my own post about my failures. Being an entreprenure from essentially birth has afforded me many failures. lol Just reading your comments made me think of another “failure” I had, that now, I’m so glad turned out to be a failure.

    Here’s the link to my failures:

    http://farmhomelife.blogspot.com/2009/11/heres-where-i-tell-you-all-my-failures.html

    There will even be a part II. Ahem : )

    Trixie

  9. says

    Ah yes, I have had many failed business attempts myself and have since learned to just roll with the punches. You can’t let one failure stop you from trying other things. Just keep chugging along and eventually you will find something that works for you and your family. :)

  10. Lora says

    I have two work-at-home jobs, one answering e-mails and responding to “Live Help” requests for a web site and another one helping three teenagers with their writing. I find that helping the three teenagers improve their writing takes more time that I had expected.

    Thank you for sharing the wisdom you have gained from your experiences with working at home.

  11. Mrs. G says

    Thank you so much for this series. My hubby and I are hoping to start a family sometime next year, and I would love to be a work-at-home mom. Your testimonies are coming at a perfect time for me to truly absorb the information.

  12. says

    Since starting out working at home a few years ago, I’ve had to learn to adjust and grow. Lately I’m at a place where I’m realizing if I’m going to be successful, I’m going to have to be willing to step out of my comfort zone and try new things.

    I also think it’s important to make sure you’re not risking more in business than you can afford to lose. If you’re a SAHM who NEEDS money, taking out a $15K loan to start a business might not be the best idea. In my case, I’m a freelance writer – so I’m selling a service, not a good – and there has been very little financial risk involved. So if I fail, I’ve failed at a profit at least and not with loans to pay off!

  13. says

    Hi Crystal:

    Happened across your blog and enjoyed this post. I can identify with your creative writing class plan – almost the exact same thing happened with me when planning a local affiliate marketing course. I had visions of at least 50 students – ended up with a total of 9. But it was a great learning experience.

    By the way, your blog is beautiful, and those kids … those KIDS! They are adorable!

  14. Mary says

    I just closed a children’s consignment shop after nearly 5 years of being in business. It never made a decent profit – it just barely broke even last year and then I moved to a building with lower rent and all I heard from people were complaints about how they had to drive so far to get there (7 extra miles…puhlease!)

    Anyway, closed the business a week ago and I’m going back to work in my field, but there are zero jobs available here (15.2% unemployment in my county) so I’m planning to move somewhere to take a job, for at least a year, til I can transfer back.

    Five years ago I had $40k in a 401k…now I owe double that. Was it a failure? Not to the hundreds of families that made extra money selling their items, and not to the thousands that bought good, used merchandise at good prices. My car was totaled a month ago (someone hit me head-on when they turned left in front of me) and I’m very likely going to lose my house in the next month. And, my dog died in September, so there is nothing holding me back from a fresh start.

    I leave my business with very little – I’m selling most of what I own to pay off debt. But I have all of the knowledge and experiences that happened over the past five years and I’ll always have that. I refuse to view the business as a failure because of all the positives. My brother is buying a car in his name that I can use. I’ll find a job, soon I hope, and rent a room in whatever city I end up in. I’ll pay off my loans, pay back my credit cards and start fresh. I passed a billboard the other day that read:

    Recession 101:
    No one can repossess your future.

    Deep, huh? :-)
    Words to live by, folks.

  15. Anna says

    I don’t understand why this was a failure. You were able to bring in some students on your first try. It seems like your expections were unrealistic and made it feel like a failure.

    What I am trying to figure out is how do you know when to give up on something or keep pursuing it til it does meet your expectations? I got the impression that you labeled the creative class idea as a failure after your first try but when creating this blog (which I love btw) it wasn’t a success at first but you kept working on it til it was. How did you know that you wanted to keep working hard on your blog and not spend that time on trying something else?

    ******************
    Anna: You’re right, it wasn’t a complete failure in that I did have a few children sign up. But it was certainly not anywhere near a success. Given the circumstances and how hard I worked to get four sign-ups and how little interest there was in the whole thing, I’m pretty sure it’s safe to say I would have had zero sign-ups the next semester.

    I learned that there just wasn’t the market out there in the area we lived for a “product” I believed to be marketable. When that becomes obvious, then I believe it’s time to move on. With the blog and other things, it was obvious after a few months and a lot of effort that there was a real market, so I kept at it.

    Next week, I’ll be talking about a much bigger business failure and how I learned from it and moved on from it…

  16. jackie says

    I realize that we all have to do what we have o doto make ends meet. But at the same time, never undermine the value in being a stay at home mom and putting your investment (time & energy) into your children. I too worked from home for a billing company. I thought it was awesome! Slowly though, I realized it was taking away from my relationships with my kids, an/or my husband…so (with a lot of tears) I gave it up. That was sooo hard to do. But, I have seen God’s blessing! He has blessed my husband with more than enough work!!! I just had to trust God and do what mattered today!
    Thanks

  17. says

    You have a very inspirational story. They say that we learn the most about ourselves through failure. I am trying to get rid of my family’s debt so that I can stay at home and be like you when I grow up:) mommyluvs2save.com

  18. Dawn says

    Thanks so much for your inspiration! You are a great writer, you always leaving me waiting in suspense with these posts!

  19. says

    Thanks for the inspiring post. I used to be a counselor and this posts reminds me of the saying, “A crisis is an opportunity”. JFK also said, “When written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters–one represents danger, and the other represents opportunity.”
    Instead of viewing your situation as a “failure” you viewed as an opportunity to learn and grow.

  20. Emmi says

    Thanks so much for writing these articles. I am a new stay-at-home and I’m really missing work. I’ve tried a few stay-at-home jobs that I thought would be real money makers and they have all been real flops and failures! It’s not that we absolutely “need” the money but I “need” the fulfillment. I’m thinking about starting my own blog next year so I can’t wait until you get to the part about starting your blog site. I’m trying to learn all I can and appreciate any information you give! Thanks for inspiring us all!

  21. says

    Thank you for showing us all aspects of trying to work at home, the good and the bad, it’s very helpful for those of us that are trying to find ways to bring in income from home. My failure was a virtual assistant. I put so much together, ads, website, researched prices for services and just could not bring in customers and then, to my horror, another lady in town got a spot on the local news about her VA biz and I thought for sure she would get all the local biz. I think way back then people just were not comfortable with the idea of a virtual assistant. Maybe now in this day and age, where people do EVERYTHING online, email, text messages and such, it would be more of a needed service.

  22. says

    I’m loving this series. Thanks for being so vulnerable – it’s so good to hear your process. And thanks for the website – I’ve learned so much from you!

  23. says

    One of my good friends is a great mother. She does more for her three kids than most people could conceive of. I would trust her with my own son, and that is saying something. But her husband works a lot of hours and after four years of being a stay-at-home mother, she was starting to get a little buggy, for lack of a better word. She was craving the interaction of adults in her life, far more than occasionally logging onto Facebook.
    She decided that she wanted a job. But she did not want a job that required leaving a care giver to take care of her children. She would not compromise on that, yet she felt without the ability to spend time with adults, she was going to have problems. Her training after high school was beauty school. She was great at cutting hair, doing nails, using make-up, and things of that sort. In fact, two of her female friends had asked her be the person to apply their make-up when they married.
    So her husband, being the good guy that he is, put his mind to it and came up with the answer for her. Because of his encouragement, she became an independent beauty consultant. This had several great benefits for her. Her training was in this field to start with, and it was something she was quite good at. Secondly, she got adult interaction with other women who had similar interests. Sometimes the women would come to her house, sometimes she would go to theirs. In many instances, she was able to even kill two birds with one stone. Many of the women also had children close to her childrens’ ages. So the business appointment also doubled as a play date for the children.
    It was a very refreshing change of pace for her, and she truly began to thrive. She didn’t have to leave her children in someone else’s care, and yet she was earning more income for the family and doing something she absolutely loved. She also got to make her own hours. Most importantly, she was getting the adult interaction she needed for her own sanity.
    She has now been an independent>independent beauty consultant for two years. She told me she lives in the best of all possible worlds, and I have rarely known someone so contented with their life. Its amazing how sometimes one simple little change can help a person go from some having fundamental dissatisfaction with their life, to thinking their life is one they would never trade.