Starting a business from home is a snap. Buy a desk, settle in, power up, and go! Nowadays, entrepreneurs need little more than an Internet connection to establish a home-based business;. Not only can you court potential clients on the web, but you can also bid on contracts, hire remote employees, and promote your company through social media, all without leaving the comforts of home.
Sounds almost too good to be true…
Can It Really Be This Easy?
Here's the catch: Sure, the Internet is a powerful tool, and web-based technologies such as PayPal, LinkedIn, Tumblr, and WordPress have made it easier than ever to set up a home-based business. Think about it — in a single afternoon almost anyone can build a basic, functional e-commerce site, however, sustaining a profitable business is as difficult as ever.
Elvis had it right: Only fools rush in. Think of it like this: you're running a marathon, not a 50 meter dash.
As we all know, the Internet can simplify a task in theory (bidding on contracts is a good example) without actually saving you time or energy. You still need to do your homework. You still need to maintain your network. You still need to actively and diligently pursue projects.
Basically, you still need to work your butt off.
That said, for some solopreneurs and freelancers, the home-based business plan represents a flexible, low-risk alternative to more traditional small business model. If you think that you are well-suited to a home-based business powered by the web, then take a minute to study the helpful tips below to make sure that you are ready to hit the ground running.
Plan, Plan, Plan
Elvis had it right: Only fools rush in. Think of it like this: you're running a marathon, not a 50 meter dash. And just because it's possible to get your business up and running in a single afternoon, doesn't mean that should skip the “boring” bits, like drafting a detailed business plan.
At first glance, you may think that you can get your business up and running without any third-party financial assistance, such as business bank loans, lines of credit, or credit cards, but very few new business can survive on their earnings alone.
Prepare your financial documents as though you were planning to walk into a bank tomorrow; research your industry and your market, identify your target customers, and summarize your financial needs and liabilities. As you move forward with your business, keep in touch with your business plan. Think of it as a road map, and make sure to check in frequently to see if you have strayed off course.
On the micro level, plan your months, weeks, and even days. Begin each morning by laying out your goals. At least once a week, take some time (ten minutes should be plenty) to recognize what you've accomplished. This will help you remain focused and positive.
Treat Your Business Like a Business, Treat Your Office Like an Office
One of the benefits of working from home is flexibility. Your work day starts and stops whenever you say it does. You can wear whatever you want; you can even pull your laptop into bed and work under the covers.
For some folks, this laid back approach to the home business lifestyle is absolutely essential, but for others it can be insidious. Working in your jammies sounds like a great idea, but it isn't necessarily a recipe for success.
I recommend taking a few simple steps to separate your home life from your home-office life.
- First things first: get dressed. You don't need to wear a coat and tie, but put on something that makes you feel like you are prepared to confront problems, make decisions, and present your ideas to the world.
- Next up: Hours. More often than not, “I can work anytime,” means “I'll work when I feel like it.” Instead of leaving it to chance, establish hours for yourself. Your family and your friends will certainly appreciate it. Working 9 to 5, or 8 to 3, or 10 to 4, helps you steer a middle course between two extreme states, idleness and burnout.
- As much as possible, confine your work related activities to one area of your home. Be diligent. The more care you take to maintain a healthy, productive, distinct professional life, the happier you will be, both at home and at “the office.”
Have another sound piece of advice for self-employed people setting up a home office? Leave us a comment in the fields below!