Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Some women launch a business using sharp tech skills and venture capital.  For Dana, starting a business meant taking anti-anxiety medication and selling an aging pick up truck for seed money. Creating an educational testing business had crossed her mind before, but more as fuzzy, distant venture she might try once her son hit his teens.  Home educating her two girls, then ages ten and eight, and chasing her toddler boy consumed her time as an at-home mom.  Suddenly, devastatingly, her husband walked out on their 13 year marriage.  Dana needed a way to earn a living and she wanted one that would allow her to continue to home educate.

The proceeds from the old Ford truck just covered the cost of materials for her to become a Woodcock-Johnson III Tests of Achievement administrator.  Statistics and testing courses taken during college provided the necessary skills.  Dana believed there was a need in her community for such a service; she couldn't find anyone to administer that particular test to her kids the previous year.  However, overwhelmed by the separation and impending divorce, she put off ordering the materials.

A friend recommended Dana to some home schoolers looking for year end evaluation.  "So I had to get the materials and start training like mad, " Dana recalls.  Necessity trumped terror; her business was born.  The local paper caught wind of her mompreneur venture and called for an interview.  Dana  mentioned her math education background to the reporter.  A reader soon contacted Dana for math enrichment for her son.  Before long, Dana settled into a groove of tutoring while her kids were spending time with their dad.  She jimmied in testing appointments when she could, but found that growing a business while raising kids required a creative, multi-prong approach.  She swapped child care with another mom, joined a formal babysitting co-op and readily took up playdate offers from church friends.  With her divorce final, she had a base of spousal and child support.  She moved her mom in to help and renegotiated her rent with her landlord.  "I made Abe scream," she laughs when discussing her frugal, money-stretching habits.

Two years later, Dana added homeschool portfolio assessments to her business offerings.  Such a move seemed guaranteed to grow her business.  Au contraire.  In order to offer the assessments, Dana needed to reinstate her teaching certificate.  That required four back-to-back sessions of cramming 3 credit hours into three week periods.  Doing so while continuing to home educate and single parent was not as easy as it sounds. (Oh wait, that doesn't sound easy at all, does it?)  Business stalled.  Dana pondered whether to seek the security of a traditional teaching job.  Wanting God's will, she prayed to be open to whatever might be best for her family.  Within a day or two of her prayer, home schoolers on a local list spontaneously began to write favorably about Dana, her approach to tutoring and testing, her encouragement and practical advice to them as home educators.  She got several calls from new folks wanting tutoring.  Dana had her confirmation.

Dana's business continues to diversify.  The Old Schoolhouse asked her to kick off a live webinar to a national audience and she's listed as a part of their Speaker's Bureau.  She teaches Hands On math at a local co-op.  She will soon serve as an "umbrella" supervisor for other parents wanting to teach math as part of the credit flexibility plan offered by an online virtual academy in her state.  She wrote a business plan, but notes that the unexpected and seemingly serendipitous plays a major role in growth.  Dana eschews the possibility of chance and instead credits God.

What advice does Dana give to others trying to start a business and home school?  "Train the kids to be as self-reliant as possible," she quickly asserts.  "Even teaching them to make a PBJ frees up a little time for you when you need it."  While Dana typically works 10-25 hours weekly,  her kids' education comes first and the business second.  Weekdays reflect that, with schooling taking up her mornings and testing and tutoring appointments the afternoon and evening hours.

Dana's business growth mirrors her personal journey.  At the time of her divorce, her self esteem fell so low that she believed she couldn't do anything, that she couldn't be a professional.  This past month, a nervous first year home educating parent called her.  The parent questioned whether Dana knew much about home schooling or about the tests that fulfill state requirements for home educators.  "It felt really good to tell her that I am a homeschooler, that I've always been one, that my oldest is now 16 and that I've administered this test hundreds of times."  Not bad for a mom who admits, "I knew nothing about business and yet it grew."  While she understands that self-reliant kids help a busy mom, Dana knows knows self-reliance only goes so far.  "I didn't know how much God loves me.  He grew my business.   If He hadn't wanted for me to serve home schoolers, I would not be succeeding."

Dana is offering one lucky winner their choice of either a 30 minute free math curriculum consult by phone or a $10 per child Woodcock-Johnson III testing discount for new clients (testing done in her Plain City, OH home only).  To enter the drawing, simply leave a comment at the end of this post.  The contest will close at noon Central time on Friday, July 6, 2012.  Visit DanaGingrich.com for more information on Dana's tutoring and testing business.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Extraordinary Ordinary Women

In upcoming weeks, I'll be featuring many different home educating moms here on my blog.  These ladies all bring in an income while keeping home schooling a priority.  Many thanks to all the moms who took the time to fill out my background research survey.  If you make money, home educate and haven't yet filled out a survey for me, please email me at ohiohol at hotmail dot com.

Bashing at home moms remains popular sport.  Part of what excites me about my latest writing venture is that it moves beyond that well-trod path.  Professional moms are often also professionals in a career field.  This comes as no surprise to those of us in the home school world.  These women have much to teach the rest of us.

So grab a cup of coffee and join me for the journey.  First up, we'll meet Dana.  Not every women eyes an aging pick up truck and sees it as the seed money for a business.  Stay tuned!