07/11/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Moms Can Make Good Dough From Home

When a full-time job as mom doesn't cut it anymore cash-wise in this struggling economy, it doesn't necessarily mean going back to work out of the house. There are lots of ways to work from home, keeping your work hours to school hours and managing mom responsibilities. For many of these businesses, you don't need a degree or more than a nominal start-up cost. Plus you can likely find something you love to do, answer to yourself and don't have to incur added expense of commuting or a new wardrobe. Here how to get started and some ideas of what can feed your passion and at the same time add some cookies to the cookie jar:

Official Business

Once you decide what you want to do, make it official. Just because you may not have an office to call your own, Uncle Sam still wants to know where to check in with you.

1. First, decide on the business structure. It can be a sole proprietorship, partnership, Limited Liability Corportation (LLC) among others. This will determine legal and tax implications. If reading about the differences has you dizzy you may have a friend who is a lawyer (or was one in a former life) who knows which one is best for your specific situation and can advise.

2. Then choose and register your business name. Depending on the state, you might need to register that name--in some states it's with the state government, in others it's with the county clerk. The website helps avoid long searches by giving a state by state list of requirements.

Have alternatives in mind--you don't want to get into any legal wrangling with a business already operating under the same name and a cease and desist letter in the mailbox can be a scary thing. Do a basic name search online and also go to United States Patent and Trademark Office database ( for names that are federally registered.

3. After that, apply for a Federal Tax ID number. If you will be a partnership, corporation, or have employees you will need an Employee Identification Number (EIN), also called an Employer Tax ID. You can register online with the Internal Revenue Service at

Then apply for tax IDs from state and local revenue departments. If selling products, you will likely need to charge sales tax and will then need a sales tax or seller's permit as well. The IRS website has a listing of state revenue offices:,,id=100236,00.html

4. Lastly, determine if you need a license or permit to operate your business. Typically you will need to register on a federal, state or local level. Get a listing of requirements at

Told you Uncle Sam would be interested in your new business venture.

If start-up costs are worrisome, grants are an amazing source of revenue for women as they are not dependant on past credit, or level of education and they don't need to be paid back (hooray!). There are private and government-funded grants available, but the trick is finding them. Beware of internet sources that claim they have the listings and will provide them free if you pay shipping and handling. The best way to find out about the availability is through your local Small Business Association which does not provide grants for start-ups (they do offer loans that must be paid back) but has access to legitimate grant offers. (

SCORE is an organization that is run by successful volunteers, many of them women, who advise, counsel and act as resources for the entrepreneur. They not only may know about grants being offered but also help women with start-up plans, website development as well as marketing and PR for new businesses (

Online Orders

If you've got something to sell, do it online. The only overhead may be sharing a nominal portion of your profits.
If you're a mom with a talent for handmade goods like jewelry, soaps, knit items, and pottery, and who until now has only given these items as gifts to family, friends, and teachers, you can make a profit on this website that's a virtual marketplace for crafts and vintage items. Added benefit: You no longer need to hear "You really have talent, you should start a business making this".

There are more than 100,000 "etsy shops" opened worldwide and more than 750,00 members potentially buying from them--15,000 items per day are sold.

Cost is 20 cents for each item listed.

Cost per sale is 3.5% of selling price.

Individual people shop there as do decorators, shop and gallery owners who might want to stock your "line" which could mean big business and big profits.

No-fear Ebay
For moms who want to own retail but can't devote the time or the cash to do so, eBay is an amazing alternative. If the idea of hawking your wares on eBay is overwhelming and scares you, there are some tools to help you navigate the selling end and to offer helpful tips to make your selling more successful:

Search for "How to Sell on eBay for Beginners" on answers in easy, web-beginner speak.

Visit Search on YouTube for eBay tutorials that take you through the process step by step.

Books like EBay for Dummies is a good reference to have on hand as is a free download ebook at

Check out tutorials on itself:

Tag Sell It

Uber-organized moms can make a living helping others weed out what they no longer need by entrenching themselves in other peoples closets, drawers and garages, then organizing the ousted belongings on for a share of the profits.

Costs for 2 weeks posting is free for up to 25 items, $1.25 for up to 20, and $6.95 for up to 100.

Reviving Former Profession

Before you ever saw the inside of a maternity ward you probably had a cool career that can now be translated into something new and maybe even improved. For the woman who was a corporate publicist she can now help a local business drum up PR. A former teacher may dabble in some tutoring and an artist/designer can help a friend (for a fee of course) get her home's interior together.

There are also many online courses available and can help find accredited colleges and universities that offer a degree to take you further in a field you may have had to give up when you had kids. Or change up a bit something you did in your past life to work for you now. I have a friend who had a booming pre-kid interior decorator business and wanted to re-enter the field. Before she took the time away from her kids to go to the design building in Manhattan she decided to see what she could do with Direct Buy which is a furniture club that allows members to buy at huge discounts after they pay a one time fee. ( ) She joined, which was an investment of a few thousand dollars, but it allowed her to start her business of helping friends to complete furnishings in their homes and even re-do their kitchens and charge them for enlisting her help. She found there was no need for time-consuming trips to many different wholesalers when she had hundreds of brands under one roof and had more time for carpooling and being with kids.

House Parties

Use mommy network (friends, mommy friends, carpool pals) to invite shoppers to parties at home for lines you rep:
1. Clothing parties: Like Wear children's clothing representative costs about $279 to get started ( Worth Clothing for Women requires purchase of samples as well but gives big earners a chance to enter into a graduate program in business development. (
2. Gold melting party. Red Swan ( offers party invites, reminders and party ideas AND the opportunity to earn commission with no investment.
3. SoLuxe personalized gifts and stationery. I get great baby gifts from them. You can earn commission on your rolodex by selling everything from holiday cards to personalized plates for a newborn with an investment in samples only (around $250)
4. Purse Party. Started by three moms, B's purses allows your friends/customer to choose the fabric, trim and model of adorable bags and allows you to pocket cash. (
5. Arbonne skin care allows women to become "consultants" for $109 and gives great discounts to those consultants on their ultra pure skin products that work! (


If you're friends are always slinging a camera to you at their special events you should consider making it a business. Some good core camera equipment can serve for your family as well as for your business. Charge a small fee to moms in town for covering baby christenings, recitals and graduations so that the family can relax and still capture all the special moments. The profits come in the prints--what mom won't purchase a few extra pictures when her kids are in them! A great book to check out for different shooting styles is Through the Viewing Glass--Reflections on Photographing Children. Another book for tips is How to Photograph Your Family by Nick Kelsh ( ) And there are sites like for making Warhol-like art or the comic strip look from your pictures and that can help the amateur videographer look very pro-like with special effects.
Dad can watch kids if events are on weekend and pre and post production can happen midweek while the kids are at school or asleep.

College Advisor

Given the fact that in 2009 the largest group of high school seniors in the nation's history, 3.2 million, is expected to graduate, it's likely there are lots of parents and kids looking for help navigating the overwhelming waters of college admission. A research driven mom who likes to give advice, is enthusiastic about higher education, and likes to envision the future and the different possibilities, should consider becoming a private consultant for college advising.

A good place to start is for a list of colleges/universities in the U.S. Search by location, setting, size, cost, academics, social life, entrance requirements, programs of study, and more

Then contact schools directly for free catalogs and applications to create your own database--study to learn what are the mainstays of each

Visit US News and World Report ( to learn about rankings in a variety of categories

You'll also wanted to go to to familiarize yourself with college entrance exam requirements, dates, study tools


The Millionaire Matchmaker may or may not be your first choice in TV shows, but she does have something going for her--a niche. For mom whose friends are falling victim to the sky high divorce rate, those friends may be your very first clients in your Divorced and Dating matchmaker service. Starbucks serves not only as the place for online dates to meet up but can also be your "office" to meet your prospective clients. Bring a lap-top and a web-cam and the interview process has begun. Network Solutions ( offers do-it-yourself website packages that look professionally done and make setting yourself up on the web easy. With a website, a cell phone, and some wingwoman visits to the single scene with that friend who is divorced (for marketing purposes of course)--you're in business. This is a fun start-up!

Personal Shopper

A stylish (and shopaholic) mom can shop for others which can be gratifying in this economy. Help moms in town go into their own closets and take outdated clothing, bags, and other accessories to a consignment shop. They can then use those funds to buy new clothes and pay you! Talk to boutiques in town to offer your services for free and use a Point of Purchase display card to advertise your services. Work out a set percentage to charge (usually between 10-30%) for any sales you made to clients at their stores. A good guide book for the basics on this is Fabjob Guide to Become a Personal Shopper (

Personal Chef

If you love to cook and create recipes, you can cash in on those people who don't like to cook, are to busy to cook, or have given up trying to please all the picky eaters in their house.

While you don't need a degree to become a personal chef, you can get formal training. The Culinary Business School ( offers a home study course for personal chefs.

You don't need to register with a professional society either--but there are benefits. Visit the website for United States Personal Chef Association ( for professional industry information, certification information, and referral services

Stay organized with MenuMagic software ( You can use it to manage recipes, clients, shopping lists, etc.

We moms are major multitaskers so adding a business to the mix is just one more way we can strut that skill and in this economy flaunt away we shall.