Renee Deal
Deal Farm Soap Company
renee@dealfarm.com
Boxford, MA, USA

Year started home business:
 2002
Hours per week you work:  30-40
Happy at home index: (1 - miserable, 10 - nirvana). – 8
Success at home index: (1-starving / 10-fabulously wealthy) – 5, I’m slowly working my way up
that scale with lots of hard work.

What kind of business do you have at home?  

I make goat milk soap and other skin care products in my home workshop.  I
market my products to both retail and wholesale customers.

What did you do before you started a home business?  

I have a degree in Industrial Design, and was an athletic footwear designer for 7
years.

Why did you start a home business, and why this particular business?  

I started making soap as a hobby and really fell in love with it.  I got to the point
that I started wishing I could do it full time, and as luck would have it I got laid off
from my design job.  I was thrilled! It was really the perfect time for me to try
something new, and I don’t know if I would have had the courage to simply quit
my job to start a soap business.  That would have been a huge risk.  But, being laid
off made me feel more like it was meant to be.

What was your biggest challenge in starting your home business?  

My biggest challenge was and still is one of the same things I love about having my
own business, and that is wearing all the hats.  When I started Deal Farm Soap
Company, I had to do everything from formulate and test the products to create
sales and marketing materials.  It’s an amazing and really fun challenge to do it all!

What has been your biggest challenge staying in business?  

That would definitely be marketing.  You can have the most amazing products in
the world, but if no one knows you exist than what good is it.  I always have so
much to do that it really is hard to do it all.  Marketing is one area that I may need to
outsource in the near future so that my business will continue to grow.

What do you love about working from home?  

Everything!  Well, almost… I love knowing that my business is a success because of
my efforts (and the efforts of my husband who created and maintains my website).  I
also love the freedom to make my own hours and work from the comfort of my
home, with my dog or cats on my lap as I’m answering emails.  And now I have a 2
year old son so I can go out and do fun things with him during the day, and I work
at night after he goes to bed.

What do you dislike about it?  

Sometimes I miss the social aspects of working in an office.  Also, in an office you
get to focus on working without distractions.  Working from home with a toddler
my days can be very broken up. I have to squeeze in working during naps and
sneaking a moment here and there to try and get things done.  Now the bulk of my
work gets done from 8 to midnight.  But I really am a night person so that’s not so
bad.

How do you inspire or motivate yourself everyday?  

I think my work is really fun, so I don’t need to convince myself to do it.  But, if I
ever need a push when I’m feeling swamped or overwhelmed, I remind myself how
lucky I am to be my own boss, building my dream company.

How do you separate home life from your work life?  

I really don’t, especially since my husband works on my website.  Our dinner
conversations and together time often focus on my business.  Plus, my office is in
my living room so I really can’t escape having work in my face all the time.  (We
used to have an office, but now it’s our toddler’s bedroom.)

Where is your office in your home?  

It is in the living room.  Honestly, this isn’t as
bad as it sounds.  Our living room is a long
room, and the office is down one end.  We
also have the furniture set up so that the office
seems separate from the area with the sofa
and fireplace.

What is your daily routine?

I get up around 7 or 8.  No alarm needed with a toddler.  We have breakfast then I
check emails and take care of some small tasks- business or household.  We often
go to the park or do some errands, then come back home for lunch and his nap.  I
usually get to do some work from around 2-4.  Once he gets up from his nap I hang
up my business owner’s hat and put on my Mom hat.  It’s not until he’s tucked into
bed around 8PM that I really get to focus on work.  I often stay up till midnight or
later working.

What is your biggest (or proudest) achievement so far?  

Of course family comes first, so I have to mention my amazing son.  But speaking of
business, the fact that I took what I consider to be one of the biggest risks of my life
and put aside the safety of a regular 9-5 job and a predictable paycheck and
followed my heart to build a business (and life) for myself that I knew would make
me happy.  

What are you working on right now to grow your business?  

Everything!  I have more irons in the fire than I can count.  We just launched a
completely redesigned website, and now I want to revamp a lot of the text on the
site.  I am also working to expand my product line, which means a lot of time spent
researching and formulating new products, not to mention working on sourcing
materials and designing packaging.  And perhaps my biggest project right now
involves marketing my business.  This means working on improving my website’s
ranking with the search engines, doing more media outreach, and researching other
ways to bring my business to the public’s attention.

What advice can you give about starting a home business?  

If you don’t have a spouse with a steady income and health insurance, make sure
you have enough money in the bank to live off of for a while (probably at least a
year) while you get your business off the ground.  Also, be sure you choose a
business that you LOVE, since you will probably spend more time working than
you used to with a 9-5 job.  But don’t let these things scare you.  In my opinion,
running your own business gives a person a sense of personal satisfaction that can’t
be topped.  Just approach it with your eyes open and give it everything you’ve got.  
Of course having a business plan to guide you is always a good idea too.

If you had to do it all over again, what would you do (or not do)?  

I’d spend more money earlier on in the business.  Spending money when you aren’t
yet making any is really hard to do.  It’s a risk.  However, sometimes you need to
spend money to make money… not to sound too cliché.  So if I had to do things
over I’d put more money into marketing and search engine placement sooner than
later.  Another thing I would do if I had a chance to do things over is take my own
advice and write a business plan.  I just dove right in and went where the tide took
me, which was a wonderful adventure.  But, I think approaching a business more
methodically can lead to success sooner than later.

What do you do for fun when you're not working?  

When am I not working?  Actually, I do spend most days doing something fun with
my 2-year-old son, like visiting some local farm animals, or taking him to the park
or gym to play with his little buddies.  About twice a month my husband and I
enjoy a nice dinner out just the two of us.  When the weather is warmer, I really
enjoy a little road trip up the coast of Maine.  Fortunately I enjoy my business
(which started out as a hobby) since that definitely takes up almost all the time
spent when I’m not parenting.

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