Today, I’ve invited Charista Baye co-creator of the site Chosen More to share her experience of starting a small business as a busy mom. Her story sounds so much like the hundreds of stories I’ve heard from women who want more out of life than the standard 9 – 5, rushing home to care for your family, feeling overwhelmed and exhausted only to wake up and do it all over again!
Charista explains how she quit her corporate job, started a small business from home, and how she’s teaching other moms a highly marketable skill that any internet savvy person can learn.
I’m so excited about this interview, so I’ll hand it over to Charista!
Going from Corporate to Small Business Owner
Two years ago I was working in Corporate America like I had been for the past 6 years. I had 2 kids and baby #3 was on the way. My husband and I both worked a standard 8-5 job and it was taking its toll on our family.
I’m sure you can relate if you come from a household of 2 working parents. Chaos all the time. Every morning it’s a struggle to get all your stuff and kids out the door. God forbid you leave your pump bag at home and have to go back and get it!
Nothing is ever clean or organized. Dinner is thrown together at the last minute. Every night and weekend you have this inner struggle of “Do I play with the kids or do I do laundry and clean up”. Oh ya, and those errands you need to run too. You’re constantly on zero for energy, not to mention PTO.
I was sick of it. Stressed, tired, and just over it. So while pregnant with my third, I quit my job to start my own Google Ads business. It was the best decision I’ve made for my career and I’ll never go back to working for someone else again.
I did have 2 clients when I quit, but those 2 clients weren’t going to replace my income right away. And my husband’s income couldn’t support us alone. Each client pays me $500/month so I needed at least 10 clients to replace my income.
I had worked in Advertising basically my whole career after obtaining my MBA straight after my Undergrad. I knew a specialized skill and decided to use that skill to help other small local businesses instead of the giant Fortune 500 companies I was working for. I was confident I could provide them value and help them grow their businesses.
What are Google Ads?
Google Ads are those listings that pop up at the top of the page when you search for something. Go ahead and try typing in basically any service you’d need. Photographer, estate planning attorney, chiropractor, carpet cleaning, etc. What you see at the top are all paid listings. These are what I write and manage for businesses driving more clicks and more leads for their business.
So how did I get started? First of all, I already had the skills to run a Google Ads campaign and I knew how to get results. This is what I had been doing at those corporate jobs. But I needed clients. I needed to become an actual legal business. I needed a website. (Or did I?) I needed to figure out how to bill clients and take payment.
Surprisingly, all of these things are actually pretty easy to do all by yourself.
I came up with a name, bought the domain on GoDaddy ($12) and then registered my LLC with the Secretary of State ($105). I obtained an EIN number from the IRS (free) and I was all set to go! I used Wave Apps (free) to send invoices and take payments. It is free to use except for the credit card fees (which you’ll have using ANY payment processor).
Next, I went out and found clients. I didn’t have a website at this time because I was networking and meeting with people face to face or through email. (I did eventually create a website, but I focused on getting clients first because I wanted to see money coming in right away.)
SIDE NOTE: When we think of working at home online, our thoughts immediately jump to doing everything online. Charista made a smart move in networking with small local businesses to find work. Local work is less competitive and people feel more comfortable being able to meet face to face. I was able to land my first freelance writing client through a local networking event!
Starting a Small Business from Scratch
I started with my own personal network. I put a post on my personal Facebook page telling everyone what I was doing. I asked for people to comment if they could use my services or knew of someone who could.
Next, I went through every single person on my friends list 1 by 1 and thought to myself, “Do they own a business? Would they know someone who owns a business?” I basically messaged 100 people that I felt like I could help personally OR who I felt would vouch for me and be willing to share with their friends. This is how I got my first handful of clients.
Once I had happy clients, then I asked them for referrals. Most small business owners know other small business owners. So I just asked if they knew anyone who would benefit from Google Ads advertising like they had. Got a few new clients that way!
If you are thinking about forming an LLC for your own home business, ZenBusiness is a great option for forming an LLC and helping keep it in compliance.
Building a Website & Growing the Business
This was when I finally was feeling pretty good about my income and took some time to create an actual website for my business. I created it on Squarespace and it’s only $18/month to host. I used a template and customized it for my business. I had a friend take professional photos of me to use on my site. (free)
Building My Network
Using Facebook Groups
Then I started to go outside of my network and posted in local Facebook groups. Or I commented on any post that seemed like they could remotely use my service. I searched and scoured several FB groups and added myself to all sorts of “business owner” FB groups looking for owners in there. I got a few clients that way.
Cold Calling for Clients
I also did a little bit of cold-calling and cold-emailing. I used facts and data and made those calls and emails personal about that specific business. I showed them examples with screenshots and mentioned what their competition was doing. This way can work but it is very time consuming and probably my least favorite way of prospecting.
Building Partnerships with other Marketing Professionals
Another way that got me a different type of client was forming partnerships with other marketing professionals. These were people who were designing websites, running FB ads, helping with branding and social media, etc but they didn’t know how to do Google Ads. They then outsourced the work to me but they continued to maintain that client relationship and I just did the work behind the scenes for a little bit cheaper than my normal pricing. I have 3 ladies who I’ve formed partnerships like this with who regularly send me business or outsource business to me.
Networking Events & Meetings
The best way that has worked for me and what I’ve done the most nowadays is going to networking events and meetings. Once you can meet someone face to face and talk with them about your business, they start building that rapport and trust with you. You begin to develop that relationship and getting to know them and what their business is all about. All of my clients in the last few months have all been referrals or from meeting business owners at networking events.
How this Business Fits My Work at Home Mom Schedule
I am now up to my limit in how many clients I want to have. The great thing about this business is I could have just stuck with 5 clients or I could grow to 30 clients. It’s flexible and I work on my own time.
Kids are sick? No big deal.
Need to start a load of laundry or go grocery shopping in the middle of the day? No problem.
I’m getting recurring revenue from each client every single month. Sure, it was a LOT of work up front to find clients and sell my services and it didn’t happen overnight.
But a year after I started, I was full with clients and only working about 20 hours a week – exactly what I was going for. Part-time work for more than I was making at my 40 hours per week job that I left.
Here is my process from start to finish of setting up my small business. You can download the checklist to get started!
If you have a skill you can sell, go out and do it!! Follow this same process. If you’re interested in learning how to run a Google Ads business yourself and do what I did, check out my course! (affiliate link) I’ve simplified the Google Ads platform so that any beginner can learn how to run successful Google Ads.
Charista Baye is married with 3 kids from Omaha, NE. She has her Masters in Business Administration and is a serial entrepreneur. She has started 3 businesses (one which failed miserably costing her over $50,000.) She is on a mission to empower other women to be able to work for themselves – creating the flexibility and income they’ve been looking for (not doing direct sales).
There are 2 major take aways from Charista’s experience of starting a small business that I think we all can learn from…
First, use your skills that you have been developing throughout your career to create a job that you can do from home. Then use both your professional and personal network to help build out your client list.
Second, make an investment in yourself to learn a highly valuable skill. I was a teacher before becoming a stay at home mom, and there are many skills that I developed in my career that have helped me as an online business owner. However, I didn’t have any specific marketing skills. Investing in skills that help other people make money in their business will always help you make money in your business.
Google Adwords is an area that is not heavily saturated with freelancers or virtual assistants. Not many people know how to use Google Ads to grow business and it’s the perfect tool for helping local businesses gain traffic.
Finally, even though you are working online, don’t forget the power and opportunity that is available locally!