Homeschool to Entrepreneur Writer

The love of reading

Katie is the youngest of four children, all homeschooled by their mom. From the time Katie was a baby, she loved books. Her older brothers and her parents read to her every day. Bible stories and Uncle Arthur’s Bedtime Stories were among her favorites. She also loved stories about animals, as well as children’s books such as the Dr. Seuss books.

As her reading skills grew, so did her love of reading. She loved the internet, as it gave her an endless amount of material to read on all subjects.

young-girl-computerDuring her younger years, Katie also discovered she enjoyed writing as much as she loved reading. Although she was quite adept at most of her school subjects, she wrote with great enthusiasm. Her mother noted that whatever Katie’s future held, her writing skills would be a huge asset to her. As a teen, she explored possible career paths, most of which included college. Her mom helped guide her, but Katie was not yet sure what direction to take.

The skill becomes the career

While on the internet one day reading some blogs, Katie came across a blog on how to become a blogger. She searched for more information on blogging, then on other forms of writing. Her mom said that Katie was so immersed in what she was reading that she didn’t notice the time. When her mom came in the room to remind her they needed to leave for the youth group meeting, Katie could not stop talking about what she had discovered.

Katie’s mom laughs that Katie didn’t seem to stop for a breath the entire drive to the youth group meeting that night. Her excitement over her new-found career path just seemed to bubble from her.

Katie spent the next couple of days on career exploration centered on an online writing career. She discovered that while blogging was certainly a good possible choice, many other options existed, too.

College at least delayed

Katie decided that she would try a career in online writing before considering college. Never excited about spending time and money on college, she felt an enthusiasm for being able to jump into a career without that expense. Some of her friends encouraged her to consider college now, with them. But, her path was different.

Fast forward two years

While some of her friends chose local or distance colleges, others chose vocational schools, and still others pursued jobs, Katie poured herself into writing. She began with writing articles for others, usually at no pay. She was just gaining experience. Soon, she had offers for paid content.

teen-girl-computerAlthough she already had a computer and basic necessities for writing, she used her income to purchase a few more necessities, and even invested in an online freelance writer course.

One of her favorite memories is when a few of her close friends came home on break from college. While they were quite happy with their chosen college route, Katie’s writing career truly impressed them. She showed them her office, a remodel of her schooling area, where she was able to write. When the reunion was over, Katie quickly made notes about the stories they told of their college experiences. She used those notes to write more freelance articles for pay!

Freelance Entrepreneur

Katie did not truly make much of a profit the first year, as much of the small amount she was paid was reinvested. But, before her college-educated friends received their bachelor’s degrees, Katie’s monthly income was quite impressive. She has decided that the freelance entrepreneur lifestyle is perfect for her, though admits it would not work for everyone.

She credits her homeschool years and the freedom they allowed her to pursue her own path. While she might have found this path from any education, Katie believes that the encouragement from her mom and dad, as well as the homeschool education, helped her refine her career choice. She states that without the reading and writing through the years, her life might be quite different.

Katie recently started writing a book, in addition to her content writing. Now engaged, she plans to continue her online business when married, too. She is sure that it will allow her to homeschool their own children in the future, too.

 

 

Homeschool to Entrepreneur


Meet Cindy, Homeschool Entrepreneur

It’s no secret that homeschooling often leads to successful entrepreneurs. I suppose it’s a combination of the homeschool lifestyle, parents that encourage, and the fact that homeschoolers have the time and ability to explore such opportunities. Many find that the homeschool-to-entrepreneur route is a natural progression.

One such young entrepreneur is Cindy, a young woman who discovered her love of baking, combined with a flair for creativity, could create amazing baked goods that she could sell at a profit.

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At the age of eight, Cindy baked her first cupcakes and decorated them by herself. She had been helping her Mom in the kitchen all of her life, but now she was truly a baker. She continued to help in the kitchen, often designing her own baked goods. When she was in high school, Cindy’s mom encouraged her to include a cooking and baking course in addition to her other homeschool studies. Cindy loved it, and often spent more hours in the kitchen than with her other studies.

Cindy began selling under the Cottage Food Laws, baking cupcakes, muffins, and cookies, and selling them at a local farmer’s market. Cindy sold out of her creations most weeks, but took advantage of having a surplus at the end of the market when possible by giving samples to other vendors. She also took her baked goods to her church and passed them around.

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Her business was built slowly, mainly because there were limits to what she had time to bake. The cottage food laws also limited what she could do. But, Cindy continued, though slowly.

Building Entrepreneur Skills from Homeschool Studies

Entrepreneurs need more than just the skills to create their product or perform a service. They need to manage their accounting books, work with customers and suppliers, and be overall managers. These are skills that many homeschoolers find they learn as they develop their enterprises.

Cindy agrees. “When I was trying to decide on prices, my Mom showed me how to figure my costs of supplies and then add in my time plus a profit margin. At first, my profit margin was pretty slim, but as I gained business skills, I learned to shop around for better pricing and found markets that would support a little higher selling price.”

The one skill she is afraid she might not have developed as well is that of managing others. Cindy is the youngest of four children and hasn’t had a lot of practice as a manager. Her mom helped her solve that deficiency.

“Mom saw that I was planning to expand and some day would need good managing skills. She says a good manager knows how to be managed first, so she allowed me to volunteer at a local day camp for children eight to 12 years old. I wasn’t really in charge of anything; I just did what I was told at first, and over time found ways to help even more. Eventually, I was promoted and was able to then coach other new volunteers. It was pretty good management training — at least a beginning.” Cindy explained.

When Cindy completed her homeschool studies, she wanted to open her own bakery. But, a bakery costs money, and although she had been saving money from her cottage food sales, she didn’t have nearly enough to purchase the equipment and afford rent.

Gaining More Professional Skills

That’s when she came up with a very creative solution. Cindy found a restaurant that needed a baker for just a couple of days a week. Although she was not professionally trained, the owner was very intrigued by Cindy and impressed by her skills. He decided to give her a try.

Working at the restaurant gave her some important skills, allowed her a chance to get a feel for the commercial environment and machinery, and helped her acquire her food licensing. Just as important, the owner agreed to let her bake some of her own products when the kitchen was available.

This gave Cindy the ability to build her business without the upfront capital, while offering the restaurant some incredible baked goods to feature. She is still saving for own business, but has already made changes to her plans, based on her experiences at the restaurant. She and the restaurant owner are discussing how she might be able to sell to his restaurant on a contract basis once she opens her own shop.

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While Cindy is not yet a self-supporting businesswoman, she is well on her way. She continues to bake for the restaurant, but now has a new line of healthy baked items that she sells. She’s discovered the health market is expanding and pays better than selling those sugar laden cookies that others sell. True entrepreneurs reshape their business to suit the customers, and Cindy has done that.

Cindy’s mom is proud of each of her children and makes it clear that Cindy is just one of her kids. Cindy’s dad is a business owner. Her siblings are also business owners, two of them in partnership.

Entrepreneurship is Biblically Based

God encourages us to have family businesses, and homeschoolers are uniquely equipped to raise our children to be capable and successful entrepreneurs. Of course, there is nothing wrong with a child deciding to go on to college and choosing a professional degree to work for others. But, it is not the only way. For many, business ownership is far more practical and fits the homeschool mindset.

Read 24 Bible verses about small business:  http://christianpf.com/24-scriptures-about-business/

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Not Passion-led?!

What happens when you can’t teach according to your child’s passions? Let’s face it — there are some courses that simply must be taught, and eventually you run out of ways to combine it with their passion!

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What I have done in this situation is to show my boys how this knowledge/skill is essential to their life goals. I’ve shared previously that TLC wants to be a truck driver, so we have had many conversations about the knowledge and skills he will need to achieve his goals. Since he not only wants to drive a truck, but he also wants to run the business and have a fleet of trucks, he will need to know how to read, write, and work with numbers, as well as have social and leadership skills in order to succeed. That’s not always enough to keep him motivated, but it is his purpose for pursuing subjects he doesn’t care about.

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The other thing about non-passion subjects is they have to be scheduled in. Every day. This is life. Every day we have to do things we don’t want to do. For TLC that means that every day we do math and reading/writing. The rest is less structured and comes from more diverse sources.

Sometimes I simply have to say, “You have to learn this and it’s non-negotiable.”

This year, as we move into junior high, we’re going to build a vision board — something that will help TLC keep his dreams and goals in front of him, to help him realize his need to continue pursuing his passion. He has big dreams, giant goals, and I want to teach him to how to achieve them. Finding a way to work through the stuff we hate to do is part of that process. His dreams won’t come true with ease; they will take hard work and he will face adversity along the way. School is just another stepping stone, an opportunity to learn how to push through adversity and succeed.

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Finding The Passion

It’s not always easy to discover our child’s passion. Sometimes their interests bounce around so much and in such wide diversity that the true passion can be missed. Sometimes we get so focused on what we are expected to teach them that we miss what is important. I saw this video recently and it reminded me that what interests and intrigues me is not what captures my children’s hearts. (It’s worth the 20 minutes!)

How can I help them find and develop their passions? How can I help keep their creativity alive?

We tend to approach life from our own personal perspective, which is natural and expected. I had big dreams as a child. I wanted to be a doctor from the age of 6. It was my goal in life. I passionately pursued what we now call STEM subjects, I was thrilled with all kinds of book learning. I still love books, I still love reading and developing new knowledge. My sons are not that way. They would be happy if they never saw another schoolbook in their lives (or they think they would be!). I have to readjust my approach to their schooling and it’s hard for me to remember that some days! I often bow to the pressure to make sure they are excelling in math and science. They don’t need to excel in math and science, unless they want to.

I’ve said it before… God calls all of us to different roads. If every one of us became doctors, lawyers, scientists, etc., our world would fall apart around our ears. Who would build our houses, deliver our groceries, farm the land, and so much more?

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I was talking with LMB recently and we were talking about how I loved school when I was a child. I enjoyed every part of learning and was eager to go every day, but I hated sports. He laughed and told me that he was the opposite because he loved sports but hated schoolwork. It reminded me that he IS my little athlete. It’s still hard for me to remember that because, well, because I still don’t like sport activities all that much! He’s good at it though and it interests him! Right now he wants to learn how to golf.

Another eye opener for me was that recently, a gentleman from church offered to mentor and work with my boys. He came over last week to do woodworking and the three of them built a worktable for the future projects he has planned. It was awesome to see how LMB came completely out of his shell and into his own. I never realized how well he could swing a hammer! He quickly picked up the lessons on using a tape measure, chalk line, saw and hammer. I realized that this, too, is something he’s good at and something that could serve him well in his life. Interestingly, they included a lot of math and science in the building without realizing that they were putting to use what they had learned in school.  They also learned that sometimes you make mistakes and it’s okay – they’ll get fixed.

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Life is a work in progress. So is school. So are passions. Let’s set aside our own desires so we can teach our children to follow their passions and dream big!

Is College the Only Good Choice?

I don’t know about trends in the rest of the world, but for the last generation or so, America has been on a mission to get every child to college. Is this positive? Negative? Is it possible? Is it even desirable?

Several years ago the American — and much of the world’s — economy went down the tubes. Taking on huge education loans now has more far-reaching consequences for our children than it did for us. And, once our kids get out of college, will there be jobs waiting for them so that they can actually pay off those loans?

You may have watched the Discovery Channel TV show “Dirty Jobs,” with Mike Rowe, who weekly joins laborers in many fields. Though not against college, Rowe has become concerned about our emphasis on college alone. In an interview for reason.com, he had this to say:

“There is a real disconnect in the way that we educate vis-a-vis the opportunities that are available. You have — right now — about 3 million jobs that can’t be filled,” he says, talking about openings in traditional trades ranging from construction to welding to plumbing, “jobs that typically parents don’t sit down with their kids and say, ‘Look, if all goes well, this is what you are going to do.’”

This topic has been on my mind a lot lately, especially as I seek ways to help my homeschooling son set smart goals. I am a college graduate, and would never have considered any other option for my child…until now. Last year I married a man whose profession is in construction. He’s a highly skilled technician, definitely an artisan, and a master mason in the eyes of his co-workers. When the economy tanked a few years ago, his skills did not. True, he had to move to another state to find work, but he never lost his home or went into debt.

There are some skills that will always be in demand, such as my husband's field of masonry. Working as an assistant is also an excellent job for a teenager, allowing them to discover if they have what it takes for a physically demanding job, or if they need to get more serious about their studies to pursue an indoor career.

There are some skills that will always be in demand, such as my husband’s field of masonry. Working as an assistant is also an excellent job for a teenager, allowing them to discover if they have what it takes for a physically demanding job, or if they need to get more serious about their studies in order to pursue a less labor-intensive career or at least one that is indoors.

What if I can find a lawyer to prepare a will, but there is no plumber to fix my toilet? I’m so grateful throughout the year for the expertise of nurses and accountants and veterinarians, but admittedly I’m grateful every single day for whoever constructed the roof over my head. Daily I become more appreciative of the world outside the ivory tower, while still maintaining respect and admiration for the world within.

My son, in more-or-less-5th-grade, has shown himself to be very bright and quite philosophical in nature, but so far his approach to academics is obligatory, and certainly not fervent. Yes, he’s young so all that could change, but for now it has opened my mind to the possibility that striving only for college could be a disservice — to him and to many of our kids. I believe that there are kids who find a goal in higher education early on, and shoot toward it; but, there are many who may flounder in college, not because they aren’t “smart,” but because they were pushed there when they’d really rather be doing something with their hands, something concrete that provides visible reward.

“Paul, the great apostle to the Gentiles, learned the trade of a tent-maker. There were higher and lower branches of tent-making. Paul had learned the higher branches, and he could also work at the common branches when circumstances demanded….While working at his trade he gave an example in diligence and thoroughness. He was ‘diligent in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.’” (E.G. White, Australasian Union Conference Record, 12/1/1899)

I remember oh-so-many years ago when I was in academy, and all our Adventist boarding schools taught shop and home economics and business skills; daily work was a requirement of being there; and teens were prepared to graduate with both a diploma and other choices. Kids who wanted a career requiring a degree went off to college. Those who wanted a skilled job or to own their own business already had a bit of groundwork laid.

Micah's Pathfinder club was the first to pilot the new Blacksmithing Honor. I'm grateful for even such small introductions to skill-based possibilities. Learning to work with his hands will allow him to take on greater job challenges in his teens with confidence.

Micah’s Pathfinder club was the first to pilot the new Blacksmithing Honor. I’m grateful for even such small introductions as this to skill-based possibilities. Learning to work with his hands will allow him to take on greater job challenges in his teens with confidence.

As a homeschooling family, I want those same options for my child. I want his academics to be such that he can pursue a four-year degree if that is his goal. However, I also want him to be comfortable with the thought of attending a junior college if that better suits his needs; the very necessary world of technology can often be entered via tech school, a two-year college degree, or course-by-course licensure. And, ideally, I’d like him to learn a hands-on skill — maybe his stepdad’s, maybe some other — whether he plans to make a career of it, or has it to fall back on in times of job-cutting.

What are your thoughts on this? I’m very interested in what vocational skills you may be making available to your child, and what kind of career paths you are encouraging them to pursue.

“Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands.… Then people who are not believers will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others,” 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 NLT.