10 top tips for running a home business
Running a home business has a whole set of challenges of its own. You are solely responsible for being disciplined in your work and not drifting off to do a spot of housework or accepting friends in for coffee who turn up on your doorstep.
If you are running a home business, here are my top 10 tips to help make the difference between treating your business in a professional manner in order for it to be successful, or letting it slip into the realms of an expensive hobby.
1. Create a separate workspace
Make sure that you have a separate home office or area for working so that you can keep all your paperwork and work related items in one place. This helps to shut off at the end of the work day rather than having bits and pieces all over the place. It is important to let other household members know that this is your sacred space and not to be interfered with on pain of death!!
2. Get organized
The amount of time it takes to get organised in the first place will repay itself tenfold (or much more) further down the line. Get files and organise a filing system for your workspace. Clear away non-essential items that are causing unnecessary clutter. Make sure you have all the necessary items for doing your work close to hand to save time hunting in the back of cupboards and drawers. Treat your workspace with the importance it deserves. Remember, you are running a business, not a hobby.
3. Define your working hours
One of the biggest failings of women running a home business is not setting working hours. This results in either working a straight 15 (or more) hours with no break or working intermittently and fitting in household chores between work tasks that distract and disrupt the workflow. Firstly, determine when you are most productive and then at what times you need to be available to clients. Decide how many hours you are going to work each day and stick to this!
Running your own business from home gives you the flexibility to decide when you are going to work and it doesn’t have to be all in one chunk like a traditional 9 to 5 job. You may want to do a few hours in the morning, take the afternoons off and then do a few more hours in the evening. Having some sort of structure to your day can make you much more productive than just working on an ad hoc basis.
4. Have a support network
Constantly talking to yourself and losing your grip with what is going on in the outside world is all too easy when working from home which can easily lead to losing your motivation. Make sure you remove yourself from your home once in a while to network with others to make new contacts, pick up new ideas and realise you are not alone.
5. Get into a routine
Having a routine and putting some structure into your day can make you so much more productive. Create a monthly, weekly and daily routine where possible. Block outset days/hours for marketing, admin, checking the finances, networking, calling new prospects etc. Have set hours for checking emails and social media so that you don’t keep dipping in and out constantly which will take up far more time in the long run and keep distracting you from your key work.
6. Plan your work
The old adage goes ‘fail to plan, plan to fail’ and this is so true when running a home business. If you just get up each morning with no clear plan of what you intend to do for the day, you are likely to dip in and out of different tasks with no clear direction and end up not getting a lot actually completed.
At the end of each day set out your three priority tasks for the next day. Make sure one of these is a key task that is going to take you, at least, one step closer to your end goal. When you complete these three key tasks, you can then move on to a more fun task that you love doing but isn’t high on the priority list. Working this way will help keep you motivated to complete the necessary tasks first with the reward of doing something more fun at the end.
If you find that you are not completing your three key tasks, move any unfinished item over to the next day and put a red dot next to it. If it doesn’t get completed on day 2, move it forward and add another red dot against it. If you get to any item with three red dots you have to stop everything you are doing and either just do it, delegate it to someone else who can do it or delete it as it simply cannot be that important.
7. Take time out
Working from home can become all-consuming and we forget to take time out to recharge and refresh ourselves. We keep trying to squeeze in just a bit more work and then a bit more which leaves us frazzled, irritable and resentful. Schedule regular breaks from your workspace to do something non-work related such as going for a walk, reading a book or going out to lunch with a friend. As they say, ‘a change is as good as a rest’.
8. Schedule family time
A danger of running a business from home is starting to neglect your family. Just because you are at home and they can see you, doesn’t mean that you are spending time with them if you are constantly working. Make sure you set out your working hours and allocate time out each week to focus purely on the family. No taking calls or dipping into emails. What is the point of working so hard if you can’t have some quality time with the ones you love?
9. Set expectations with family
When running a home business, it really can become a struggle balancing your business with having family around. To help ease frustrations, set expectations with your family. Set yourself specific working hours and let your family know that during these hours you will be working.
If you work from a separate room let them know that if the door is closed, you are not to be disturbed unless in an emergency. Also, extend this to friends so they know they cannot just pop in for a coffee and a chat when they feel like it. You need to be able to communicate with friends and family so they understand that just because you work from home does not make your work any less important than if you were out working for a large corporation.
10. Have fun!
It is all too easy to get so caught up in the nitty-gritty of our business that we start to lose the passion and forget the fun we had in starting up. Recapture the passion and love for your business by taking some time to have fun. This is both by booking time out and also looking for ways to have fun in your business day. If you can start to enjoy it again, you gain more energy and the creative juices start to flow once again.
Follow these tips for running your home business and if you have any tips of your own, please share them in the comments box below.
Do you have a can do attitude or are you full of excuses?
There is one significant difference between the small business owners that I meet you are successful and those who just never make it.
The successful ones have a can do attitude and will do whatever it takes to make their business a success. They are prepared to step out of their comfort zone and try new things in order to move forward. They are focused and wholly determined and don’t sit around dreaming all day about what they want, they consistently take action to move forward towards their goals.
On the other hand, I meet those who just stay stuck in the same spot. These are the people who want the world to deliver results on their doorstep. They sit and talk about what they want but are not prepared to leave the comfort of their home to really go out there and go after it. They have every excuse in the book and often live within the blame culture.
They put their lack of success down to a situation that happened in the past which had a detrimental effect on them or that they don’t have enough time to do what they need to do. But they have the same amount of hours in the day as everyone else on this planet and do they really believe that they are the only ones to have suffered a setback?
I fully understand that self-confidence may play a part here and a lack of self-confidence can be a hugely debilitating when running a business, but I am talking about those who want the easy option. It really is up to you to choose your attitude and get your business moving forward if you really want to.
Quit with making excuses and waiting for the right time. Just get off your backside and just do it or, JFDI as the saying goes, Just F****** Do It!
If not and you keep doing what you have always done, you will always get what you have always got. [Tweet “If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always got.”]
Do you have the right attitude? Yes? Then great. If not, it is time to decide to stop dreaming, procrastinating and blaming and start some doing if you really want to be successful.
When running a small business it is all too easy to fall into the trap of thinking we have to start off giving things away for free in order to build our reputation. Whilst this method of building brand awareness may have some benefits, it needs to be thought through and the results measured, in a very controlled way.
Why? Because free holds no value in the mind of the recipient and by giving too much away you may be causing problems for your business. In the majority of cases I have seen, when someone gets something for free, they do not perceive and appreciate the full value that the product or service they are receiving is really worth.
I know of a couple of small businesses who have spent time creating vouchers for a massage or facial and promoted this through a competition and then the voucher hasn’t been used by the winner. A waste of time, effort and money for all involved.
I know of a lady who spent time setting up a free workshop to teach dance classes where a good number of people booked and reserved the spaces and yet only one actually turned up.
In my own line of business, there are often opportunities for fully funded business support. Whilst many people who take advantage of this truly do appreciate it, there are those who have the mindset that free holds no value and therefore it is unlikely to be worth much to them so they fail to attend the workshops or appointments they are booked on and deprive others who would have benefited from having a place.
This is demoralising for all concerned and puts in jeopardy any future opportunities that may have been in the pipeline.
But why is this? Because no matter what the price of the thing that has been received, if it is given away for free, subconsciously that product or service is worthless to the recipient. During some research on this subject, I came across many examples of this.
The psychological effect of free
One was a person who had received a book worth hundreds of pounds for free (they didn’t enlighten me on the actual book as it must have been quite special for this amount of money!). On the same day, they made a purchase of a book on Amazon for £10. And which did they read? The one they had paid for. Because this had been paid for with their hard earned cash they perceived its value as higher than the one they had received for free. Crazy huh? But true.
With free workshops and funded support, maybe people don’t turn up because they think there is a catch. Otherwise, why would it be put on for free? That word ‘free’ has such a negative effect on us psychologically.
So if you are a small business owner considering a free offer, think carefully if you can really afford to put this offer on. What is it going to cost you to run the promotion and provide the free offer? Can you afford to lose this money?
If you go ahead, measure the results very carefully. I do not have exact figures to provide you with but from research have discovered that an incredibly small percentage of people who receive a free offer will ever go on to purchase at full price in the future. These people tend to be bargain hunters and so just sit tight until another freebie comes along. They are not your target audience so do you really want to waste time dealing with them? Unfortunately, they have the attitude that free holds no value to them.
And if you are the recipient of a free offer, think twice before accepting. If you don’t see the value and have no intention of using the freebie, let it go to someone who may be more appreciative
Here we are with the school holidays nearly upon us once again and the children at home.
For working women, this can be a time of both joy and stress. I remember only too well the joy of having my children around and going on days out combined with not having to do the packed lunches, school run etc. But I also remember the incredible stress of having to organise childcare for the days I could not take off, the feeling of guilt of still having to work and the feeling of disapproval for requesting time off with my children or to finish work early.
Do you dream of starting a home business?
So many other women feel the same and this can lead them to start to think about starting their own home-based business. They long for starting a home business which can be flexible enough to be run and organised around their family commitments and still provide them with a regular monthly income.
In a recent report to coincide with International Women’s Day, James Pattison, CEO of Startup Direct, said:
“A growing number of women are disillusioned by the difficulties of combining family life with a traditional 9 to 5 job, not least the inflexible hours, lack of well-paid part-time work and the cost of childcare, which continues to spiral.
The internet has made it easier than ever to start up a business from home and women are drawn to the prospect of being their own boss, choosing their hours and cutting childcare bills by working flexibly around family life.”
[Tweet “The internet has made it easier than ever to start up a business from home”]
Unfortunately, too many women thinking of starting a home business start to worry about what they will do, if they are good enough, what they have to do to start up and how they will manage initially until the business is fully up and running and providing a secure income.
But there are many options out there now and it is far easier to start up a home based business today than ever before. There are many simple ways to make money working from home that can be started at little expense. You also don’t need to immediately hand in your notice in order to start up as many businesses can initially be run alongside a full-time job. Yes, it will take time and organisation but then, as a working mother, you will already be an expert in this field.
There is more and more support out there today for women wanting to start in business and your local business support organisation should be able to point you in the right direction. There are also many online options available such as The Small Business Kit which can provide you with everything you need to start, run and grow your business.
As your business starts to build, you can then think about reducing hours and working part time until you are in a position for the business to fully support you financially.
The hardest part is usually the first step. It can be as simple as having the confidence to test out your ideas or to actually ask for money in return for something you already do as a hobby. It can be writing that first blog and the fear of putting yourself out there into the public domain.
But be brave. Get someone to confide in with your ideas and who will give you realistic advice (not friends and family who will sugar coat everything for you, or adversely, tell you it will never work). Look for someone who has been there and done it before and got the tee shirt (and bruises) to show for it!
So don’t sit wishing and wondering what if. Take those initial thoughts and start to put them into action. In ten years’ time, you will wish you had started today.
If you are thinking of starting a home business and would like unbiased advice, support and a helping hand, join The Small Business Kit now and start your journey to success.
Are you employed? Are you truly happy in your job? Be honest now.
Over the last few weeks I have been amazed by how many women I have met who are desperately unhappy with the job they are in but are too restricted by having to pay the bills etc to be able to walk away. They have fabulous business ideas and the talent to make a business work but are just too afraid to take the ultimate step.
Are you like that? How many others out there are like that?
We can all read the self help books telling us to step out of our comfort zone and jump into the unknown where great riches await us. But how many of us really have the belief to take that jump?
There are so many people, both male and female, who feel trapped. They need the immediate ‘security’ blanket of a regular income no matter how unhappy it makes them and with the inherent risk in today’s world that they ‘security’ blanket may be whipped away at any moment and replaced with redundancy.
It takes a truly brave person to leave a 9 to 5 employed job to jump into the unknown, but at the same time, the people I know who have taken that jump are infinitely happier long term than those who have not.
So how about you? Are you brave enough to take the jump?
It is a scary decision. I know because I have been there and done it. I have had success and I have also had failures (or learning curves as I prefer to call them) which resulted in me having to re-enter the world of employment for a while.
If you are waiting for the right time to quit your job and start your own business, I doubt that time will ever come. If you really feel the risk is too big to take, how about testing out your new business in the evenings and at weekends whilst remaining in your employed role? This can be the lesser of two evils and can give you valuable research opportunities as to whether your business will work or not.
The worse thing you can do is to stay in a job you hate, with unfulfilled ambitions and dreams. Life really is too short.
If you would like a chat about your new business idea, get in touch now.
Finding your passion
Why finding your passion is so important in business
So today I met a lady who I have been advising on her business.
Whilst I would never tell anybody that there business is doomed to failure, I will also never sugar coat a situation for someone where I do not see a successful future.
We sat down and went through some cold hard facts. The lack of clients and sales was one but the more pressing concern for me was that when she discussed her business with me, there was something lacking in her voice. She had no passion.
I truly believe that to succeed in anything, whether business or life itself, in order to give yourself the best chance of success, you need to be passionate about what you are doing. If the thought of getting out of bed and going through the motions of what you need to do fills you with dread, you are never going to fulfil your potential.
So we stopped talking about business. I went off tangent and asked her to tell me what she enjoyed doing in day to day life. What were her hobbies? What did she look forward to? What did she get excited about? What did she enjoy in her childhood?
The difference in her face and speech was incredible. When talking about what she enjoyed her face lit up and her body became more animated. She became alive.
After a while and with some thought, we found a way of bringing her passion into her business. We could adapt what her business was currently offering and go in a slightly different direction without losing the main ethos of what her business was about.
We brought hope and excitement back into her business and I am sure that with some more planning and dedicated work she will now start to see her clients increase and her income get to where she wants it.
It is not guaranteed that this will work with everyone and with every type of business but sometimes sitting down and going back to basics can be so worthwhile. And the basics of a small business is you – the business owner. Ultimately you are the business.
So if you feel stuck in a rut and would like to some help to bring the passion back into what you are doing, give me a call. I don’t make any guarantees but I strongly suspect that some new ideas for your future may come to light.
You may just discover that finding your passion for what you do isn’t that hard after all.