This is part two of a three part series on start-up success. The first blog post was about developing a life plan  before writing a business plan. This post is about being a successful home-based business. Part three will be about the top reasons why start-up businesses fail and how to avoid that fate.
When you are starting out in business it is best to keep your overhead expenses as low as possible. One great way to do this is to work from home. Your spare bedroom, basement or kitchen table will do just fine as an office until you are making enough money to pay for professional office space.
One of the key considerations in working from home is – can you handle it? One really is the loneliest number. I have a few tips for evaluating whether you are fit to work from home. Sometimes when you work from home, the people closest to you might not take your work seriously. I remember when I first started my business, my boyfriend who is now my husband of more than a decade, would call in the middle of the day to ask me to grab his shirts from the dry cleaners. (By the way, he’s been getting his own dry cleaning, for years now.)
That is a perfect example of how those close to you can unintentionally get you off your game. In business, your time is the most important thing you can give anyone, but lay down the law with your friends about when they can call you.
Here’s a list of questions to ask yourself before deciding in which part of the house to set-up shop.
- Are you good at setting a schedule for yourself?
- Are you self-disciplined enough to do your work and not procrastinate?
- Are you good at communicating when there is limited visual feedback?
- Can you fight the temptation to run errands?
- Are you really a social butterfly that needs to talk to someone as part of your work process?
- Can you set boundaries with your family & friends or will you just chat on the phone with them?
- Will you be able to separate work life and home life? Many entrepreneurs are workaholics, and working from home really facilitates being that way.
- Will you still be able to afford childcare help? Babysitter is not of those 10-12 jobs that entrepreneurs can do well, and run their business.
Now if you are still thinking that becoming a home based business is for you, here are a few tips to help you manage.
Build a cell phone check-in list. It’s good to have regular conversations with a small group of people who know what it’s like to be working from home. You may find out that your friends who still work at jobs can’t relate to you as much as they used to. Build your network of other home-based business owners, and when you get the urge to turn on Oprah, spend two hours on Twitter or worse take a nap, dial-up sometime who can help you get back on task.
Everywhere you go, talk up your new business. By talking up your business, you will attract customers to you, and it will keep your confidence up. Sometimes when you don’t see other people often, you can get a little rusty presenting yourself. Try talking about your business at your local nail or hair salon, local business association, supermarket, even your child’s daycare – and at your old job. Promote your business to any and everyone, especially those closest to you.
Develop strategic alliances with complementary businesses. Find other small businesses you can partner with in order to help each other grow in business. Develop joint promotions, trade tips and resources. Work out a formal referral fee agreement, so there’s no misunderstanding about compensation for leads. Not every entrepreneur will be eager to partner with you, but you will never know until you ask.
Get out of the home office at least twice a week. Go to networking functions, schedule client appointments, and try to find yourself a place to work outside of your home with your laptop. Bookstores or libraries are good options. Coffee shops and bakery stores such as Starbucks or Panera Bread even offer free wifi. They are all great places to hangout and get work done.
Having a home-based business is like opening any other business except that your business happens to be headquartered in your home. Just get a plan together so that you can be successful working from home.
Do you have any more suggestions for working from home successfully? Please leave a comment.