By Maurenne Griese, RNC, BSN, CCE, CBE
I honestly did not plan to work from home. I had a great job managing the education department at our local hospital. For a nurse, the hours were good but the pay wasn't all that great. It was small price to pay to be able to spend weekends, nights and holidays with your family instead of working. That was in 1995, when I had only two children, ages 6 months and 2 years.
How I got started
A dear friend was moving out of town and she sold "Over the Shoulder Baby Holders", a baby sling for babies and toddlers up to three years of age. She asked me to take over where she left off and I obliged. I had sent her a decent amount of business, wearing my sling about town. Thus, my business was born.
I started thinking about what type of work I could do from home and then I realized I could use my talents as a nurse educator. I am certified as a childbirth and breastfeeding educator. I am also a prenatal nurse author and consultant. I was asked at least a couple of times a month to do writing, consulting or training for hospitals and nursing organizations on topics relating to maternal-child care. Other health professionals had heard me speak, read my articles or had heard about the comprehensive maternal child education and support program I had developed at our hospital. Working 50 hour weeks, I had to graciously turn them down and refer them on to others.
An expectant mother called me, looking for a doula for her homebirth. Her friends in La Leche League mentioned my name and said I may know one or might doula her myself. Well, there were no other doulas in our area so she interviewed me and offered me the job for $500.00. Now, keep in mind I have assisted thousands of mothers through their hospital births as an OB nurse, but had never even seen a homebirth before! Yet it all worked out well and this mother and I have become good friends and she had a wonderful homebirth.
Planning the big step of leaving full-time work
I began hearing more about home based business in the news and I began thinking about how nice it would be to work for myself from home and be home for my kids. In my spare time, I began to research what it would take to get started in a home based business and began to think about what I could do from home. I loved maternal-child nursing so I decided to stick to that.
The hospital where I worked had gone through a merger and was not the happiest place to work. I was being asked to do more than my 40 salaried hours week in and week out and never getting to use my comp time. My children were spending more time with babysitters than they were at home. My morale was sinking and I found out I was expecting my third child. I had to decrease my hours at work due to pregnancy complications and my boss was less than supportive of this.
Working from home now
Six months after the birth of my third child, I resigned from my more-than-full-time job and work 90% of the time from home. I do contract my services out as a nurse at our local military hospital, but I am not their employee and it helps me keep my clinical skills up-to date. My business provides full-scope pregnancy, birth and postpartum support and education. I present continuing education seminars for health care professionals. I also am the contributing editor for Pregnancy and Childbirth at Suite101.com, a Vancouver, Canada based website. I took my experience as a nurse educator, author and consultant in the hospital world and took it with me to the entrepreneurial world.
My advice to anyone contemplating leaving the corporate world for a home office is do what you know and do it well. I knew how to coordinate the many numerous details of a continuing education or prenatal education program and budget planning and preparation. Marketing, communication, customer service and computer skills were already well known to me from my former job.
Advice for getting started
As a nurse, I didn't know much about running a business. I had no training about cash flow, SBA loans or the like in my training as a nurse. I relied on my local SBA office at Kansas State University, which offers free advice on writing a business plan, taxes, getting a business license, registering your business name and all of those other things you just don't know if you have had no training in business.
Even if you are not a health care professional, you CAN do this business of childbirth and breastfeeding education and support. There are several credible training programs available to anyone with the desire and knowledge to comfort, educate and support expectant and breastfeeding families.
If you have the motivation and basic skills to do what you know and love it, with careful planning, the income will follow. I wish you luck in planning and starting your own home based business.
Maurenne Griese, RNC, BSN, CCE, CBE
Manhattan, KS USA