Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Life Less Simple

Well, this is not simplifying at all: I've started a new business. I had no intention of working from home, but it was an opportunity I couldn't pass up. I am now a consultant for Usborne Books at Home, a company based in the UK that makes wonderful books for children and teens. As a consultant, I do home shows, exhibits, and promote literacy. Once I have a little experience under my belt, I aim to get certified to sell to schools and do literacy fairs.

I got hooked a few weeks ago when a friend of mine hosted a party and I was blown away by the quality of the books. I wanted them all. Better yet, they have a large French language catalogue. My husband is French and we are endeavouring to raise the boys bilingual. Trying to find French books for purchase (the library is pretty well stocked) in Hamilton is a losing battle. We're limited to a very small rack at one Indigo store. Usborne has almost 500 French titles in Canada. They sell very well in Quebec and I hope to find a wide audience in our area.
Recycling things to make and do
So why didn't I just buy instead of deciding to sell? My husband asked me the same question. I already have my hands full already with two little ones and a university course on the side. (Not to mention my poor, neglected blog.) Despite this, I was craving another challenge. I'm lucky to be surrounded in my life by small business owners and there's a part of me that has itched to try my hand at it. I attended my first Social Mamas mamapreneurs meeting this month and found a welcoming group of creative and talented businesswomen full of helpful ideas to get me started.
The Story of Rubbish
But how does my new job fit into my philosophy of simplicity, self-sufficiency, and frugality? That was my big stumbling block
- Simple? Not. My life and the life of my family will become more busy and complicated for sure. We will also have a lot more 'stuff' in our home, but books are something I make an exception for and we've already got a ton of them. A little more won't hurt and they are useful, reusable, beautiful, and educational.
- Self-sufficient? I will be providing access for my children to a wealth of high quality, engaging reading material for very little cost to us. I will also (I hope!) be bringing a little more money into our budget, thereby allowing us a little more financial freedom.
- Frugal? The initial investment was very very small and will be made back quickly. In return, I have LOTS and LOTS of great books. Assuming I would have been buying the books anyway in the future, this is a very frugal decision.
Le temps et les changements climatiques
Now, can I run a business in a way that supports and promotes my principles? This is where I'm looking for suggestions. Usborne itself has impressive ethical and safety policies, which pertain to the manufacturing of its products. But how do I advertise and communicate and package in an eco-conscious fashion? I'd rather not give customers their orders in plastic bags, so I'm trying to find a greener way to meet the need to keep the books safe from the elements. I'm not seeing many options yet. I've got a theory I'm about to test and if it works, I may have a solution. More on that another time. If anyone has any suggestions, please comment, I'm all ears. As for advertising and marketing, I'm relying on word-of-mouth and the internet. I've got a temporary website set up and will be making a more customized one myself (once I learn a little about web design). Facebook and Twitter are also becoming fixtures in my life as I learn how to use them as business tools rather than pure social networking arenas.

This is a strange new world for me and having done no research ahead of time, I'm scrambling to catch up. How do you balance your work life and home life and manage to adhere to your personal philosophy of life?

Update: find my new Usborne website here.

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