Planning a home based career? You will need to be aware of
all the pitfalls to make it proftable. Here are some practical
steps to help your business really fly.
1. Is working from home right for you?
Working from home can provide the luxury of few distractions
but it can also make your days dreadfully dull. Removing the
social perks of going to work helps you stay focused but can
leave you lacking motivation and ideas. To find inspiration
you will need to develop new support networks that keep you
in the loop and make time to socialise.
When working from home you will be surrounded by the other
parts of your life, which may make it all to easy to be distracted.
If you're in the habit of doing bits of housework whenever
you're in educate yourself to ignore it. Even in the most
equal relationships one partner often has a keener eye for
what needs to be done. If that's you, you can easily end up
with two jobs, which have no starting or finishing time.
Treat your working time as seriously as you would time on
an employer's premises make sure those you share your home
with see it that way too. If you're tempted by the idea of
combining working from home with looking after a young family
think again. There's little else you can give full attention
to if you've got a pre-school child in the house and it is
just as valid to use childcare if you're working at home as
it would be if you were working at an ofice elsewhere. Make
the necessary arrangements.
2. Are you right for working from home?
Be honest with yourself about your abilities and ask people
that you trust to be honest with you too. Do you have what
it takes to be a business owner? Are you able to set goals
and be self-disciplined? Do you have the flexibility and the
confidence to tae calculated risks? Are you willing to market
yourslef and your business? The answers to these questions
will help to show you if you have the characteristics of an
To be successful you need to be good at managing your own
time and productive when you set your own deadlines. One of
the biggest myths about people who work at home or freelance
is that they are only temporarily self-employed, as a stopgap
measure while looking for a 'real' job. That's rue for some
but most are individualists at heart who have chosen to work
independently or, once becoming involuntarily self-employed,
discovered they like it. There will be the opportunity to
expand your skills by picking and choosing assignments that
interest and challenge you and it is often necessary to keep
learning new skills to stay competitive. Evaluate your skills
and education to decide whehter you need additional training
for your venture but remember that once you are on your own
you will have to meet the cost of your own training.
3. Be prepared...
You may have dreamed of starting a home business and leaving
your current job for some time but before you make this big
step consider the benefits of working for your current employer
- there may be more than you think. If there are company benefit
plans, see when they will increase in value and also investigate
your company's pension schemes, share offers or insurance
policies that wil no longer be available to you.
Experts recommend you save two years worth of living expenses,
as this is the average time for a business to become profitable.
A good way to do this is by trying to live on the bare minimum
to see whether you can get by on less money and put the savings
towards your new venture. More than 90 per cent of new business
owners start part-time, allowing them to develop a business
network of experts and contacts before being completely reliant
upon income from the business.
Write a business plan and do thorough market research for
your business idea to develop a customer profile and to see
whether a market exists. Few new business owners escape a
feeling of stress, so discuss details of your plans wity those
closest to you and listen to their feedback carefully.
Plan your social and family time in the diary and be disciplined
about keeping those 'dates'.
4. Market your company effectively
Calling potential clients for their views not only starts
your market research but is a great opportunity to make contacts.
You will not get a better opportunity to pre-sell yourself
and your unique idea for a business.
Marketing comprises a number of disciplines inlucding direct
mailing, exhibitions, survey / research, internet presence,
public relations and advertising. Marketing is also about
knowing yourself as well as existing and potential customers.
If you fail to understand what type of customer buys your
goods you cannot market your goods to them. Spend a few hours
a week building marketing into your routine. Work out the
motivations and habits of your potential customers, decide
what needs and desires they have in relation to your business.
Talk to existing customers, past customers and possible customers,
find out about the latest technology and advances in your
industry and look out for opportunities to promote your product.
Advertising is also crucial to the development of your business
but know who you wish to target and advertise accordingly.
If your potential customers demand quality choose an advertising
medium to releft that. Understand what message you need to
grab attention. It could be as simple as a restaurant promoting
a sumer menu. Peolpe are attracted by new ideas.
5. Run your business efficiently
There is no point in getting up at 6am and finishing work
at 3pm if you work most productively between 4pm and midnight.
Unless you are delaing with office-bound clients all day,
it would be better for you to structure your day around when
you feel refreshed, focussed and alert. Decide before you
start how much time you are going to give to yourself, your
friends and your family and book it in your diary as you would
with any other appointment.
Balance your dreams with realistic aims that you can work
towards keeping focussed on your dream but remaining certain
about what you can get done and by when. Whenever you work,
get into good daily habits and setyourself some short-term
and long-term targets that you aim to achieve. This will help
you create a framework for your day, which, if you can stick
to it, will make every day productive.
A successful business must expect to handle orders or queries
at any time of the day or night but when you are working from
home this can become a problem. If you'd prefer to avoid the
web, think about a second answer-phone with a longer recorded
message providing more detailed information for customers
and use that number to channel queries. This way you can effectively
monitor the effectiveness of new marketing strategies.