Many people wonder about whether a home business is right for them. One reason many people never get started is that they don’t believe they can run a profitable home business successfully.
Running a successful home business gives you the freedom to be at home and to take care of the things that you normally wouldn’t be able to, while earning a nice income at the same time. It can be a very alluring idea and one that many never try, but I assume since you are reading this that you are one of the brave few that understands how exciting and rewarding a home business can be.
However, there are some potential pitfalls potential business owners should consider that can help ensure their success. There are several things that you can do to make the startup process easier, and if you do it right, you should easily be able to run your home business as well as your home, without extra-added stress.
– Make a plan
The first thing that you’ll need to do is to make a schedule to separate your business hours from your home life. When you work from home, it’s very easy to let the two blend, which can be a recipe for failure.
Because your business will be at home, it’s tempting to work at all hours of the day or night, especially if you are working online. You might be tempted to take on other projects or orders or to do more so that you can make even more money. However, if you don’t set limits for yourself, you’ll find that you won’t be able to produce quality work and your home life can suffer as well.
In order to avoid this problem, you need to set realistic business hours. Look at the hours you want to work. Just like a regular office, your home business should have office hours and hours when you are not available. It’s simply too easy to work all of the time, even if you need the money. However, keeping hours and making sure that you keep them regularly is a good way to make sure that you’ll have ample time for, business, home and family.
– Office space
Next, it’s important to set up a dedicated office/work space for your home business that is separate from the rest of your home. This can simply be a corner of your kitchen, living or a spare bedroom. Just so, it’s dedicated to your business, which will make it much easier for you to keep the two things separated. If you can keep your home and business apart, you’ll have a much better chance of managing them both well.
Starting a home business is a very important decision, and there are some typical home business resources you’ll need to have in order to succeed. So today we are going to go a few basic assets, services and systems you’ll need to make your home business run smoothly.
So, to start a successful home business, what resources and steps do you need to take?
– A good plan
A clearly laid out business plan. Without a business plan and goals to achieve, then you can not get anywhere. A business plan, even if it’s just written down on a slip of paper will help you map out what you need to succeed and how you’ll achieve your goals.
Whatever your business will need, you’ll need to be well informed about it. So you’ll need to do me research so that you become an expert on the niche, product or service. Knowledge about the business is an important home business resource, so you must do the necessary research to be well-informed about the industry or product/service.
– Office space
As we discussed in your last issue you will need to set up a dedicated base for your home office. Your office is a very important because it helps separate file from business which increases productivity. In your office, generally you’ll need a computer, printer, internet access, fax, telephone, business cards and a conducive work environment.
Keep in mind that sometimes you’ll be working long hours, especially in the beginning, so your work space needs to be comfortable. A suitable desk, comfortable chair and appropriate lighting are very important and often taken for granted. Allocate some money towards setting up a working environment conducive to productivity and you’ll enjoy your time in the office much more!
Money to cover capital outlay and running costs is an important even if you’re starting out on a shoestring budget it would require some form of investment, and you’ll need to know how much you have, and how much investments and ongoing marketing your business will need to stay afloat until it begins to generate a solid income.
– Support system
This can be a coach, mentor, someone with a similar business, or simply your family and friends. You need to have people close to you who will encourage you and give you any support you need. You can also join your local Chamber of Commerce, online communities and forums of people in the same industry as your own. A good support network is a very important home business resource.
Business leads and clients are a crucial home business resource. Making and creating contacts and networking is very important, because no customers equals no income. You need to start building your potential client base before you launch your business. Start marketing your business by giving away some products and services. By creating a relationship with your potential customers, you build trust with them, and when you launch your business, it will be easy for them to buy from you.
– Be professional
The way you run your business and relate to your customers is very important. Be prepared to ‘go the extra mile’ with your customers. Care about your customers, and provide all the information they may need.
– Get help
Hire any professional help you may need. Treat your business professionally, and if you need the services of a lawyer or accountant, hire one. It’s more productive and effective to hire skilled professionals to do what you don’t have the time or skills to do it yourself. If you want your business to be successful, it’s important not to overload yourself with time consuming tasks or projects that can be easily outsourced. It’s also more cost effective in the end, because it leaves you free to focus on growing your business.
Understandably, many people are a little nervous when it comes to the idea of building an online presence for their home business, especially if they don’t consider themselves internet savvy. However, building an online presence doesn’t have to be difficult. With a little bit of enthusiasm, the dedication to learn, and the persistence to continue, almost anyone could build a solid online presence for their business.
Here are a few common sense suggestions for those who may be a little wary of building an online presence. It goes without saying that taking your business online means you’ll need a reliable computer. This can be a desktop PC, laptop or these days even a tablet will do. You’ll need a reliable Internet connection.
When building your online presence, one of the first things you want to do thing you’ll is register your own domain name, so that your business will have its own URL address. This is the first basic step and the cost of this is minimal, usually around $15 will get you started. Of course, there are ways that you can set up your business without having your own domain name, but they aren’t as effective or professional.
You’ll want to choose a name that screams out what your business does. For instance if your handyman and your name is Mike, then the domain www.handymanmike.com would be an excellent option. If you want to target local businesses, you can add state into the domain name, which will help local customers find you for instance www.albanyhandyman.com
The next step will be to get a hosting account and create your actual website. To establish a very professional looking website for your online presence, you may want to hire someone to design the site for you. However, if you are on a tight budget, it’s definitely something you can do yourself, it will just take a little bit more time while you learn the basics.
Most of the time the hosting service you choose will have built-in site editors and wide variety of website templates that you can customize to make the job easier. There are many tutorials and sites available, which allow you to create your site without extensive knowledge of web design and development, html code, etc.
However, it probably doesn’t hurt to learn all that you can, because knowledge in this area may prove useful at any stage of building your online presence.
After your site is up and running to your satisfaction, the next thing you’ll want to do is find ways to drive traffic to your site. Simply put, the best way to make sales or find clients is to get people to your site. The costs of advertising should be factored in as a business expense. However, there are many inexpensive ways to advertise online especially with a little creativity pointed in the right direction.
The key to building a successful online presence depends largely on a strategy. Decide who your target audience is, and then find the best places to advertise to these types of people.
Of course, once people begin to visit your site, your online presence will be well on its way to being firmly established. But don’t stop there, it’s important to continue looking for effective ways to advertise so that you can grow your customer base.
As your business grows and your online presence expands, it’s important to remember that ongoing knowledge, strategy, dedication and a positive attitude can consistently propel your business to new heights.
Once you have a course planned for success, there are going to be a million things that need your time and attention. It’s not that these things haven’t been there before now, it’s just that now you have to direct your focus specifically on the tasks that will help grow your business. It’s also important to prioritize and not let less important tasks pull you off-track.
So how do you stay on-task?
One of the best ways I’ve found, is to keep a log of tasks (like a to-do list) of things that must be accomplished as you move towards your goal. Remember to break the big tasks in to a series of small ones and to give yourself a reward-system as you do it.
As you go through the list, cross off tasks as you complete them, so you can keep track of your progress.
Whatever motivates you is your key to success. Always set your goals and down organized in a way that is simple and attainable. Remember if the carrot is too far in front of the horse, the horse will give up. If it’s just close enough to smell and see but just out of reach, the horse will keep moving towards the incentive.
Often times home business owners forget to reward themselves when they achieve the goals are attained a new customer but small, incremental rewards will help you move faster towards your goal.
– Time management
Good time management skills are especially for when you are your own boss. You must define the parameters of your business. What days and hours will you work? When will you market? When will you provide services or products to clients? How will you keep all of this straight? By defining, a list of necessary tasks you need to accomplish to make your business run smoothly you can set up a certain time each day or week to accomplish them.
Automate your business as much as possible. Granted, you are just one person (right now) and might have a lot of extra time to take care of all the details. This might work for now, but won’t work into the future as you get busier and busier. It’s best to set up automatic systems and processes right from the start to free up your time to concentrate on the most profitable activities.
You may be surprised to discover how many things that you can automate, once you set your mind to it. For instance, you can automate the online ordering process and email correspondence, so that your customers receive receipts directly after purchase.
Staying motivated and organizing your day-to-day tasks is one of the best ways that you can stay on track and ensure your home business a huge success.
As we have discussed before when it comes to advertising the Internet is a great way to develop a solid business presence. It is one of the largest mediums of communication and holds a lot of opportunities for growing businesses.
However, you shouldn’t limit yourself to only online marketing methods. There is a huge potential to promote your home based business with cost effective offline marketing strategies as well.
Let’s go over a few:
– Word of mouth in your circle of influence
Word of mouth is one of the best free advertising channels. We all have people we interact with on a daily basis, and these are potential customers. Make a list of all the people you know or interact with and how can you best tell them about your internet business. Be passionate about your internet business and always be prepared to tell someone about it when an opportunity to do so presents itself!
– Mail-out newsletters and flyers
Mail-out newsletter or flyers can be effective if you target it to a specific ‘group’. You could create one to distribute to local day care centers just as an example – and in your newsletter or flyer, highlight the benefits of an online business to the targeted group, for example earning money at home for stay at home moms or dads. Posting your home based business URL on bulletin boards can also be effective.
You can promote your business by having your URL on all your stationery, all written communication and other items you can give away for free. If you want to get a lot of people to know about your home based business, you will need to come up with some creative ways of promoting your URL. You’re limited only by your imagination. Have your business cards with your home based business URL. Give them out to people you meet, leave them about where you can, such as in your local coffee shop.
– Newspapers and magazines
Local newspapers are good for advertising your online business. Most local papers have ‘home business opportunities’ section, so you run a regular classified advert. In addition, contact your local newspaper or business-oriented magazine and let the business editor know you have a new business and web site and what you offer. Local newspapers are frequently interested in featuring local business people and their accomplishments. This is free advertising and should always be used. You can also contact your local magazine and offer to write a monthly or weekly guest column for them, and include your ‘author bio’ and home based business URL.
– Joint ventures with offline business
You can get into a joint venture partnership with an offline business, which sells a complementary product or service to your home based business. If you can identify a partner that best fit your business, this is an important offline marketing strategy that can help you succeed in your home based business by enabling you to reach potential customers that you could not reach before. As an example, if you have a website selling fitness/health products or tips, you could prepare a leaflet and make a deal with an offline local fitness/health shop where they giveaway your leaflet to their shoppers with each purchase.
By employing these simple, yet effective offline marketing strategies you can help you grow your home based business as big as you want.
Exploring unique ways to make money from home can be a daunting task. The appeal of working from home is widespread and holds a world of possibilities for anyone brave enough to make the leap from traditional employment to working from home.
Generally, when you mention working from home people jumped to the conclusion that they will have to either sell products door-to-door or host home parties. However, there are many unique ways to make money from home knocking on doors.
Telecommuting is often a great option. A telecommuting job is a job in which the employer allows the employee to work from home. Many of the most sought after jobs of this type tend to be in the areas of data entry or internet research, but there are many more. Often times this is one of the easiest ways to make the transition from a traditional job to working from home, especially if your current employer is open to the possibility.
Another great way to make money from home is freelance writing. This does require a fair amount of skill, but if you have a talent for writing, there are ways to turn this into a work at home business idea. Many websites are looking for article content from freelance writers for websites, blogs and e-zines, and it can be very profitable for people with top-notch writing skills.
– Billing and transcription
Medical billing or transcription can be a great opportunity for anyone with a few basic data entry skills. But buyer beware in this case, because there are quite a few scammers in this arena. So approach carefully. If you are interested in medical billing or transcription as a work at home idea, the best place to check is with your local college and see if there are any classes offered.
Writing is the only type of freelance work available. Depending on your skill set there are many different types of jobs that other companies will be happy to pay you to do for them. You can post your resume online at one of the many freelance directories available and allow when prospective employers to bid for your services.
When it comes to exploring different work at home opportunities there is a never-ending lie of great business ideas available. Until you find the one that’s right for you it’s a good idea to dedicate a few hours a day devoted to your search. This way, you’ll be able to take your time, sort through any potentially fraudulent opportunities, and find the one that’s right for you.
Look out for the next issue on this topic where we will close off Home Business Tips & Tricks.