Starting Your Design Business When You're A SAHM

stay at home mom business

I had convinced myself when I got pregnant that I would be content with being a stay at home mom. I was going to be a coupon cutting, play dating, meal planning, 30-Minute meal making queen bitch ready to serve my man a cocktail when he came from work ala 1950s utopian bullshit.

That didn't happen. I cut some coupons, but could never rise through the ranks to become an extreme couponing maven. Tried a play date that was a front for a Scentsy party that turned into a recruitment for their MLM gang. I wasn't disciplined enough to stick to my meal plan because I could only eat so much shitty Hamburger Helper. And no, my husband didn't get a drink served to him because I caught a case of rage from watching that shitty Caillou cartoon all day. 

But then I got an itch that had to be scratched. Well, it was more like we only had one income, had foolishly decided to buy a new house before our current home had sold right before the economy took a dump. Oh, and we were using family to sell the old house which was a complete and utter fucking disaster that costs us a lot of money that we didn't have. 

So that itch was for money. We, as my husband likes to coin it, were bleeding out of our assholes. Don't ask. Maybe its some prison analogy? Not like he was in prison, nevermind. 

We had one income, two mortgages and a kid. I wanted to go on those random $200 trips to Target and drink Starbucks without wondering if there was a bankruptcy in my future. 

My daughter was three years old when I got a part-time job. I went back to work in the mechanical engineering department as a "draftsman." There was no "draftswoman" name badge, but whatevs. I'm basically a dude when it comes to shooting the shit. 

It was a family company, and I was beyond grateful for the job. That being said, it was a family company and politics on that level is even dirtier than politics at corporations. It was impossible not to get tangled up in the bullshit, and I knew that I didn't want to do that forever. 

While I worked drawing up metal fixtures for store displays during the day, I decided to take life by the balls and start my eDesign business. 

I never started a business before, and the learning curve was HUGE. Beyond learning how to set the company up, it was even harder to find people to learn from.

NO ONE in this industry thought eDesign was going to be a thing. NO ONE in this industry could help me. So I had to adapt from other businesses to make this work for me.

Here's how I was able to go from being a part-time "draftsman" to HBIC.

I needed some money, so I sold my iBook G3 (a cute little blue clamshell laptop) for $500. 

I took that money to buy a domain and hosting. I designed my website and created my graphics.

Then the real work began.

Worked every evening. As soon as my husband came home (and if he didn't have to hop on a work call), he was in charge of the kid as soon as we all finished dinner. That gave me about 3 hours every night to work.

Worked every weekend. We're homebodies, so it's not like I had to cancel our golf course tee time. It also meant though that I couldn't veg the day away by catching up on "Cougar Town" or "Mad Men." That gave me 7 hours each day... yeah, that could've been more, but I still had laundry and sleeping in to do.

Sometimes I was just so excited about this new endeavor that I couldn't sleep and woke up early to work.

And I chugged along for a year. Now, it didn't take me that long to get the website and content up. It took me that long to get noticed. 

If was starting all over again minus the dirty diapers, I'd do the same thing. We like to tell ourselves that we don't have the time or we are waiting for the right time. 

You have the time and the right time is now. We waste a lot of time. Whether it's wishing we had someone else's life on Facebook or pinning a bazillion things on Pinterest that we're never going to get to. 

If you want to make this happen, you will. 

You will outline the basics steps to get you to baby business (website, services, and software to provide the services) and as you work through that basic outline, you'll find the gaps where you'll need to add another step. 

You will carve out the time, tell your family to respect your time or they can wash their own shitty drawers. 

How To Get Started Today

  1. Commit. This isn't something that will come together overnight. You must be into this for the long haul.

  2. Set work hours. This may be the toughest part but start off by documenting your time for a week. Every 15 minutes of your day write down what you're working on. You'll be able to see where how much time you can devote to your business by eliminating TV time, Facebook, etc. You might need to consult with the family to switch some responsibilities to free up more time.

  3. Identify your strengths. Every design business is different regarding what problem you solve for your clients and how you deliver the solution. Many people start a design business and think that they must offer everything under the sun. Please don't. Figure out what your strengths are so you can build on it. Here's something to help you figure out your strengths.

  4. Figure out why you're different. There are lots of designers out there offering a lot of the same. Look for the gap in the market that isn't being addressed. And before you tell me it's all been done in this industry... you're wrong. There are quite a few niches that are untapped.

  5. Validate Your Idea. You will not have a business if you can't figure out who needs your help (the answer is not everyone). Don't ask your family or friends; they aren't your clientele. Create (or find) a community where you can get feedback if this idea is something they need and will pay for. New Class In The Society On How To Validate Your Business Idea in 30 Days.

  6. Set goals. If you don't set goals, shit will not get done. Set your daily, weekly and monthly goals. You're not aiming for perfection here so do not get lost in weeds.

  7. Launch one service. Start with one design service and figure out what you need to deliver it. Do a test run by creating a fake client (maybe a celeb you love) and go through the entire process, including the communication. It will help you to see where you've got holes in your process.

I've put together a course to help you build your business called Designer DNA that's inside of the Society. If you're looking for all the steps to get you going, you should become a member.

There is no better time than now. You can make the time if it's important to you. And if you need help getting started, get your ass into the Society unless you like going the long way around ;)

Alycia Wicker

Alycia Wicker is an interior design business coach specializing in helping soulful interior designers attract clients with clever marketing strategies. Celebrity gossip whore.