Is it time to hang up the stilettos or the wingtips?
So you have this great home business idea and dream about the day when you can walk into your boss’ office and tell him or her to shove it. Before taking the official leap off the corporate ladder and onto your kitchen table, here are a few basic things you should think about before starting your home-based business:
- Do everything in its proper order: Before you go out and set-up an LLC or spend a bunch of money on home office equipment and supplies, make sure there is a market for your product or service. There is story after story of starry-eyed entrepreneurs who are motivated to run a home-based business, but have a product that is akin to men’s spray-on hair (oh yes, we all remember seeing that commercial!). Take time to research existing products you may want to represent or refine the service or skill you would like to take out to the public; because as lofty as your intentions are, a successful home-based business all boils down to whether or not you have someone who wants to buy what you are selling.
- Dedicate space and time: It is that whole “working in your bathrobe” cliché that appeals to so many home-based business coveters. In reality, it doesn’t matter what you wear to the home office, but rather, where and when that “home office” will appear. It is all a balance. To be successful, especially when you have a business that involves speaking to customers or vendors, it is important to set aside normal business hours away from distractions or screaming kids. Customers do not want your personal life popping up into their business relationship. You must ensure professionalism by being thoughtful and protective of the “business” time and area within your home.
- Marketing 101: Unlike Kevin Costner’s famous movie line: “if you build it they will come”, customers don’t just appear. One of the biggest reasons home-based businesses fail is because the owner does not want to sell. It is crucial to do a gut check before delving money and resources into a home-based business. Ask yourself this question before going too far down the rabbit hole: “do I have it in me to spend my time prospecting for customers?” If your answer is yes, you are ready to take things to the next level. If the answer is no, I would strongly suggest revisiting the reasons you decided upon a home-based business. In addition to selling, it is important that proprietors learn about other ways to market their products or services. Take time to understand how you can use online marketing tools like social media, email or search engines like Google to help market your products.
- Plan for the worst: I would like to think that I am the eternal optimist, but I have learned in the small business world that it is just better to prepare for the worst just in case the sky does start to fall. For instance, Uncle Sam may not audit you, but you should run each year’s books like he will.
Another area that can come up worse than expected is start-up costs. Starting a home-based business is much less expensive than investing in a traditional business, but it is still going to cost money out-of-pocket. Be realistic in how much money you will need to contribute. It is difficult to get a business off on the right foot if it is under funded to begin with.
Marketing expenses are another section of the business that can run out-of-control if not monitored properly. Before beginning a home-based business, research the required and necessary start-up expenses and plan accordingly.
- Expect the best: Unlike the previous delve into pessimism, it is very important to bring positive energy and passion into your business. Another reason home-based businesses can fail is because their founder loses steam. How many of us know a friend or colleague who started selling something out of their home and has since stopped? Find a product or service you are passionate about and run with it like you are being chased. Continue to motivate yourself by learning new ways to sell or market your product. Take outside courses that will teach you skills you can use within your business. Just because your business is being run out of your home doesn’t mean you treat it as casually as your new work attire.