By Carol Topp
The most successful businesses spring from using the skills, talents, and experiences of the owner. Why not use your knowledge and understanding of homeschooling to create a business? It can be done! Here are some business ideas that use your experience as a homeschool parent, as well as tips from those who make their livelihood in the homeschool marketplace.
Many homeschool parents find they are qualified to become private tutors earning money from tutoring math, reading, or foreign languages. My friend, Cynthia, tutors Spanish to individuals and small groups of students. She has also has been hired to teach Spanish at several homeschool co-ops. Katie tutors online with Tutor.com in the evenings after her children are in bed. She could earn more with face-to-face tutoring, but the online model fits better with her schedule.
Why not use all that grammar and punctuation you've been teaching your kids to good use. Offer your service as an editor to bloggers, novelists, and writers of all kinds. Mary Jo Tate raised her four sons on her income as an editor while homeschooling. To learn how she did it, read her book Flourish at Home available at FlourishAtHome.com. She explains, “I didn’t know much about running a business, but God providentially led me to some conferences for entrepreneurs where I began learning principles that could help me grow a home business while continuing to teach my children.”
If your state requires annual testing, then offering standardized testing, diagnostic testing, and even personality testing to homeschool families can be great sources of income. You may need training and a license to offer some tests, so do your research to see what it takes to be able to offer testing services.
Many homeschool parents need advice from experienced homeschoolers. You could consider sharing your wisdom by offering phone counseling or webinars. Hal and Melanie Young offer a five-session webinar called Boot Camp 9-12 for parents with pre-teen boys at RaisingRealMen.com. As parents of six sons (and two daughters), they offer helpful, practical advice and get paid for it! Melanie told me, “It's important to stop and ask yourself, “Is this something I would have paid for in my homeschool journey?” People won't pay for things they can easily get free, so you need to make sure that what you are planning to offer is marketable. Involve your family as much as you can in your business; that way it becomes “our family business” and not “Mom and Dad's business” that takes time away from the family.”
Lee Binz (TheHomeScholar.com) applies what she knows about homeschooling through high school in her consulting business. She offers her time to parents who need help with transcripts and college admissions. You could also convert your experience into a home-based business. By the way, Lee’s website and products are an excellent model of how to run an online business. Take a look and copy any of her ideas that fit your service and your style.
Learning Disability Specialist
Kathy Kuhl (LearnDifferently.com) is a specialist in learning disabilities. She consults with families who need help adapting their homeschool to a child’s learning challenges. She advises on planning, curriculum, support, withdrawal from school, and transition to high school level work, employment, and college. Kathy, advises, “Many people enter this field because they have a child with special needs. While your own experience is an asset, strengthen your usefulness and marketability with personal study and training. You may do this work out of love, but remember that your time is worth something. A wise woman—who had seen others burn out from years of giving their time away in this work—advised me to charge for my work. But I do some pro bono work every month.”
Foreign Language Translation
If you can read, write, or speak a foreign language, you could be hired as a translator. Email and Skype has made translation easier to do from home. While Spanish is a popular language, Asian and Middle Eastern translators are more in demand and therefore pay better.
Art classes were always in demand at my homeschool co-op, and parents were frequently willing to pay an additional fee for art classes. You can approach co-op leaders in your area and see if they will let you teach a class. Accept payments from parents to make the process easier for the co-op leaders.
If you play an instrument, consider teaching beginning students. Piano, guitar, and drum lessons seem to be the most popular. Offering lessons back-to-back for siblings or teaching music lessons at a local homeschool co-op is convenient for parents and makes the best use of your time, too.
You take care of your own children all day, so it may be possible to run a daycare from your home without too much additional work. Offering before and after school childcare would be a popular service in many neighborhoods or offer to be available on snow days and charge a premium price for the short notice!
Many homeschool parents write their own curriculum because they couldn’t find what they needed. That’s what I did when I wrote the Micro Business for Teens series. It’s easier than ever to self-publish and distribute your curriculum to homeschool parents using services such as Amazon’s CreateSpace.com and CurrClick.com.
Stroll through any homeschool convention hall and you’ll find homeschool families running bookstores like Jay and Maria Asplin who own JM Cremp’s: The Boys Adventure Store from their home in Minnesota and travel the country during homeschool convention season. Other booksellers stay home and run their stores completely online.
Popular speaker Heidi St. John of TheBusyMom.com speaks to huge crowds about homeschooling, parenting, and marriage. If you have a unique topic and an encouraging word, begin sharing your wisdom. You could start by doing radio interviews, podcasts, and local speaking engagements. Offer to be a guest on one of the homeschool podcasts in the Ultimate Homeschool Radio Network.
Homeschool Group Administrator
Some homeschool groups, especially co-ops, are so large and active that they hire an administrator to run their programs. The homeschool group may be a nonprofit, but it operates like a business and needs someone with administrative skills to keep the group flourishing. Be sure to brush up on the laws regarding employer taxes. Visit HomeschoolCPA.com [http://homeschoolcpa.com/] for details.
Turn your homeschooling experience into a successful business. Most of these ideas can be run completely from home and are flexible enough to allow you to balance homeschooling and business. I hope the examples from other homeschool parents have inspired you.
Tips to Get Started
1. Create a short business plan. Put it on paper. Writing things down seems to make us think more carefully. Include sections on the need for your product or service, who your customers are, how you will find them, your price, and the cost to get started. Then show your plan to several people, including current business owners and potential customers. Ask them for honest and helpful feedback.
2. Conduct a mini market survey. Ask three to five potential customers if they are interested in your services and what they would pay. Their feedback can help you set a price and determine what services to offer.
3. Consider how you will be unique. Ask yourself, “Why will a customer buy from me and not my competition?” Maybe you offer top quality, speedy service, or the cheapest price. Typically a business can offer two enticements to a customer, but not all three, so you can offer high quality quickly, but not inexpensively.
4. Test your business idea by offering free services or products to a few initial customers. Ask for their feedback. If they give you positive feedback, ask their permission to use their comments in your marketing materials and on your website.
5. Set up a website. Collect emails so you can communicate with interested visitors to your site. Offer some information such as a short ebook or a blog post series in return for an email.
Carol Topp, CPA (www.HomeschoolCPA.com and www.MicroBusinessForTeens.com) operates a home-based accounting practice helping business startups and nonprofits. She is the author of Homeschool Co-ops: How to Start Them, Run Them and Not Burn Out and the Micro Business for Teens series. Carol and her husband live in Cincinnati, Ohio and have two daughters, both homeschool graduates.
Copyright, 2015. Used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the family education magazine, Fall 2015. Read the magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com or read it on the go and download the free apps at www.TOSApps.com to read the magazine on your mobile devices.