A family business can blend well with homeschooling, as many have discovered.
We have an online sports merchandise company, TeamMASCOT.com, that I have to juggle along with the needs of the family every day. But as far as jobs go, this isn’t too bad. It’s online only, so no need to keep store hours or tend to walk-in customers.
I thought I’d give you a little glimpse into this part of our life. First, a few FAQs:
1. Are you big sports fans? No, we just have a sports store because, well, other people (lots of them) are sports fans. The sports marketing industry is enormous and rapidly growing. My husband just came up with the idea, along with another buddy of his, and he built the website (it helps to be a computer programming genius).
2. Where do you keep all your products? Well, up until a year ago, it was the home office, the hallway, the bedroom (yes, my bedroom full of NFL trashcans…very romantic), the garage. You can imagine the tripping that occurred, so we now have a warehouse in town where we keep it all.
3. What’s your role in the business? My job is mostly product management. We carry various items, from bumper stickers to wall clocks, with team logos (NFL, NCAA, NBA, MLB, NHL, and NASCAR). I order products to maintain our inventory, look for new vendors, manage customer service, and pack orders on the days our part-time help is out. There was quite a learning curve when I came on to help my husband over two years ago, since I didn’t know whether the Steelers belonged to Pittsburgh or Philadelphia, or whether they played football or baseball. I’ve learned a thing or two since then, and can now fairly accurately predict the contenders for the Superbowl, the World Series, the Bowl Championships, etc.
4. How do you fit your business in with homeschooling? This is a question that some days I ask myself as I’m ready to throw that Indianapolis Colts hammer out the window. I have to spend an average of 2-3 hours a day on TeamMASCOT, depending on the season. Less during the offseason, much more during the Christmas rush. I have a computer set up at home that is remotely connected to the warehouse, allowing me to order products from my vendors, add new products, reply to customer inquiries – really anything except pack up the order. So, I try to work very early hours and very late hours and save the bulk of the day for the family.
OK, there’s a little run-down. The kids come to warehouse on the days I have to go in, for a few hours, and I’m training them to work. I consider this part of their education. My son pictured above, who is 7, is very capable of learning the various teams and their logos, and can pick orders for me. He’s learning about buying and selling – wholesale, retail, and profit margins. Even my five year old daughter is eager to help:
Is this the Steelers, Mom?
And right down to my three year old, who LOVES to put the labels on the packages (I won’t even go into the large packages that require packing peanuts, such fun for a three year old):
Some customers might get a crooked postage tag!
There are actually a lot of skills to teach, and I think that figuring out what size box to use for what product is a great math lesson.