Feeling overwhelmed or outside of your comfort zone when creating your own work from home business is totally natural and part of the adventure. You can finally put all of your motivation and time into you very own business, creating your own hours and guidelines. The key to success is being dedicated enough to put in all of the hard work that it takes to own and run your own business.
Here are 6 steps to take to make your work from home business a success:
1) Choose your “best” home business option. I'm often asked what the “best” home business to start is, but in truth there is no one-size-fits-all business. What's best for me, might not be best for you. Many people start their home business quest looking for something fast and easy. While this method can work, usually you'll end up losing money, getting discouraged or worse, running a business you hate. Instead, you need to choose a business based on what you know, do or love. Inventory your skills, experience, interests and passions first and then find a home business that lets you use them.
2) Do Your Research. Is your idea a viable one? Is there a market for it? What does it take to get started? What permits are needed? What does it take to succeed? These questions need to be answered before you jump into your home business. Careful research of business opportunities is important as well.
3) Make a plan. You've heard the saying, “Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.” Small businesses (not just home businesses) have about a 50 to 70 percent failure rate within the first 18 months, according to Tom Carroll of Delux Corp. The reasons vary, but most business experts indicated that a lack of money and ineffective marketing are leading culprits. Having a business plan is crucial to your business' success because it's the blueprint you'll use to run your business. It will identify how much money you need to get started and manage your business. It will provide information about your target market and how to best to reach it.
4) Get money. You don't need a whole lot of money to start a home business, but it's unrealistic to think you won't invest any cash. Startup costs vary depending on the business you start and the resources you already have at your disposal. Getting money starts by creating a budget that includes startup and ongoing business costs (i.e. advertising, supplies, services) and current assets (i.e. cash and equipment). A budget will let you know how much money you need to get started and what you need to earn to stay solvent.
5) Make it legal. In most areas, businesses are required to register and get permits. Here are some of the legal issues you need to check on:
• Business license – Check with your city or county for a business license or permit
• Occupational license – Many industries such as food, grooming, real estate and financing are regulated by the state and require you to get additional licenses. Search online for your state's occupational license information.
• Sales tax permit – If you will be selling tangible items and your state charges sales tax, you will need a sales tax permit obtained through your state's tax or comptroller's office.
• Doing-Business-As – This is sometimes called “assumed name” or “fictitious name” statement and is required if your business name is something other than your given name. If you do use a different name, check that it's not trademarked before using it.
• Zoning – Homes are zoned residential which means it may not be legal to run a business. Many areas now have waivers that allow for home business if you're not doing something that would disrupt the neighborhood, such as increasing traffic, using toxic materials or hanging a neon sign.
6) Get the word out!If people don't know about your business, they can't buy, which means you can't make money. In an attempt to save money, some first time entrepreneurs place fliers or spam their social media with “buy now” messages, but this is a waste of money and time. Marketing starts by first understanding who the best buyers are for your product or service. How old are they? What gender? What worries them? Don't assume everyone is your market, because marketing to everyone doesn't work. Instead, identify groups that can benefit from your product or service. Once you know your market, create marketing message that speak to them. Focus on selling the benefits (solutions) your product or service provides, not on the features.
• Website – You absolutely need a website!
• Email Marketing – Don't spam. Use an email marketing service to collect emails from potential customers.
• Business Cards – Be generous in handing them out.
• Announcements – A business is like a baby in that it's a new and exciting thing in your life. So let your friends and family know.
• Press Releases – Send to local media and follow up with a call.
• Networking groups – Visit offline groups such as the Chamber of Commerce or Meetups. Join online networking through associations or LinkedIn.
• Write an article for print or online media.
• Seminars – Check local associations, adult education and community colleges for speaking opportunities.
• Social media – Social networking is about engagement, so don't just send your ads. Talk with and respond to others in your network to build a relationship.
For any type of business you decide on you will need a website as well as networking groups and business profiles to get noticed online. You will want to start building a subscription list for email marketing right away. It wouldn't hurt to do a press release and make announcements to further push your business off and online.
What other tips can you offer our readers below on how they can improve their work from home business plan?