For many people, kissing goodbye to the corporate world to operate a home-based business is the ideal next move: no boss to answer to, no tiresome meetings to attend, and no 45-minute commutes in rush hour traffic. Working from home may be a pleasant experience, but when you’re alone with your computer and the distractions of home for ten hours, it’s easy to forget the basic guidelines of operating a successful business.
Here are eight useful hints for running a successful home-based company and keeping your business on track.
Set a schedule and stick to it
The challenges that many home-based company owners encounter is that they no longer have a boss watching over them to ensure that they complete all their tasks, nor do they have a definite beginning and finish to each workday. It’s easy to let time slip away when you go to the refrigerator, watch a few minutes of TV, or start a project first thing in the morning, ignoring the other duties that must be completed to keep your business afloat. Develop a schedule for everything you need to accomplish in a given day/week. Plan your day so that you have a start and end time, as well as particular hours set out for various tasks. Spend the first hour of each day looking for new clients as a general guideline. This is typically the best time of day to send your emails, compose your letters, and make your phone calls.
To visually remind you of what you need to achieve that day, use Outlook or any other contact management program. Your to-do list will determine whether your business soars or burns. By the end of the day, try to tick everything off your list.
Make a schedule for your family time
After you’ve arranged your work life, you might want to think about arranging your personal life. Perhaps you’ve already realized, or it’s only recently become clear, that you tend to work around the schedules of your family members. If you have children, this is very common. Many parents, particularly young mothers, opt to leave their corporate careers and so that they can work from home and be available for their children. However, if you’re serious about operating a home-based company and making a fair living, you’ll need to establish childcare arrangements, either within or outside the home. It gets too distracting otherwise. Consider hiring a babysitter so you can set aside five to six hours of uninterrupted work time.
Set clear goals
Take the time to define some goals for yourself. When you go it alone, you no longer have to worry about quarterly evaluations or progress reports. However, it’s critical that you keep track of whether or not your company is progressing. Setting simple objectives, such as finishing your to-do list, is one thing; you also need to create goals to encourage yourself to achieve. Hopefully, you’re generating as much, if not more, money from your home-based business as you were from your previous job. If you aren’t, start by establishing a goal to earn the same amount of money as you did before gradually raising the bar to boost your monthly earnings by a couple of thousand dollars. Make time to reward yourself for achieving a goal by doing something enjoyable.
Reward your efforts
It is not unusual for small business owners to work 60- to 70-hour weeks. However, the good news is that no one will stop you from sneaking out at two o’clock in the afternoon to catch a movie. As a home business entrepreneur, you have that freedom and flexibility. When you see how successful your business has grown, it might be tempting to work all the time, but know when to take a break. You’ve already developed a successful company. Take a break now and again to avoid being burned out.
As a business owner, you can also consider getting insurance like home business insurance or public liability insurance. These provide a layer of protection for your business.
Be prepared to be a jack-of-all-trades
As a home-based company owner, you’ll be required to perform a variety of roles: You’re the human resources, accountant, marketer, sales manager, and customer services manager all rolled into one. Learn the fundamentals of office management, including how to solve some basic technological issues. You don’t have to be an expert, but you should have a basic awareness of subjects like tech support and bookkeeping. Otherwise, paying someone to do everything for you will become too costly.
Invest in your network
Network with other home-based company entrepreneurs as much as you can. This is an effective method for locating service providers, leads, and new customers. Surrounding yourself with individuals who work from home can provide you with the support you require, as well as referrals to people who can assist you to take your business to the next level.
Leverage the cloud
Don’t be tempted to store all your important information on one PC or device. If it breaks or you lose it, you could lose all your essential information. Store important documents and data in the cloud on some form of virtual exchange server. This will enable you to access the information you need, when you need it, regardless of whether you are.
Consider getting an office
Working from home is a stepping stone for many people. Many small company owners start off by working from home to keep costs down. However, working from home can make it difficult to focus on your business. When your company grows, consider investing in office space so you can achieve a better work-life balance.