Setting up a home based business doesn't have to be intimidating, expensive or time consuming. When you decide to make your living working from home, you simply need to go through a basic set up process to ensure you are ready.
Here are the steps for setting up your home business for success:
- The key to your business success is your attitude.
- Treat your business like a business.
This is critical whether you are working part-time or full-time. For example, the mom who works from home around her family. She always puts her family first, at the same time developing her business. She says, "I may work part-time, but I have a full-time attitude." To put another way, "Have a hobby attitude, get a hobby income, have a business attitude get a business income."
You can be successful working part-time and you can be successful working full-time but it is unlikely that you will be successful just working in your "spare time".
2. Describe Your Business
Be able to describe your business concisely; a powerful one or two sentence description that someone can repeat in describing your business to others.
A unique and memorable tag line can also be invaluable for promoting your business. This is often referred to as your "elevator pitch" or "audio logo". Think about it, if you ask someone about their business and they describe it as "a errr, well, I kind of take care of, you know, well in as much as..." would you be impressed? Would you think that you should really hire that person? It's much better to be able to speak briefly, confidently and memorably about your business and what makes it unique.
3. Know Your Product or Service
Once you have chosen the product or service to sell you need to know your product intimately. If you are selling e-books for example, then know the content and its value. If you are selling software then use it and know it "inside out".
You will develop a reputation of providing quality information and because of your product knowledge, you can become the preferred supplier.
If it is not practical to use certain products (for example a woman may choose to sell man's shoes or vice versa) then you won't be using the product, however you can still know the benefits and features of the product intimately.
4. Get a Domain Name
Welcome to the twenty first century, you need a domain name for your business! You'll need an account with a reputable hosting company who will provide a "space" on the web for your domain name and site. The fees can be as low as $4.95 per month and go up from there. If you do not have any knowledge of HTML there are hosting companies that provide "site builder" software via the web. This can be a great option but be sure you like the application before you plunk down your money as you will probably be using it a lot!
Once you have your own domain you will have one or more email accounts for that domain. This can assist in the promotion of your business and promotes a more professional business image.
Using email smartly can help you in the task of organizing your business communications. For example, sales can arrive via email@example.com, support and help requests via firstname.lastname@example.org and so on.
By setting up some basic rules in Outlook or other email program you can have the mail conveniently sorted into folders for you as soon as it arrives.
6. Payment Processing
You will probably need a way to process credit cards. You could use services such as:
- PayPal https://www.paypal.com
- StormPay http://www.stormpay.com
- 2 Checkout http://www.2checkout.com
- Clickbank http://www.clickbank.com
Paypal now has a Pro level of service that includes a virtual terminal, helping to keep the costs low. Once your business picks up you may need to look into your own merchant account for credit card transactions but any of the sites listed will certainly get you started and may be all you need for the life of your business.
7. Computer Protection
Your computer is the lifeline to your business dealings and must be protected including the data that is stored. You will need a virus scanner, personal firewall, anti-spyware and anti-adware and preferably an email scanner with the ability to delete suspect of spam email from the server before it is downloaded to your computer.
Some suggestions are:
- AVG Anti-Virus: http://www.grisoft.com (free version available)
- Spybot S&D: http://www.safer-networking.org
- Microsoft Anti-Spyware: www.microsoft.com/athome/security/spyware/software/default.mspx
- Adaware: http://www.lavasoft.com/
- Mailwasher Email Scanner: http://www.mailwasher.net
A good all-round selection is one of the Norton products as they are kept up to date and have many if not all the features mentioned.
8. Working Environment
Getting organized is highly important, to ensure that you complete projects on time but also pay your bills on time and even bill your clients on time!
Having a working environment that help rather than hinders you work is also highly important. It can be tough but you need to establish a definite workspace for both yourself and any other people that are around.
- A space that you can call your own, free from distractions for your scheduled time.
- A comfortable chair and organized desk.
- Stationery supplies as required.
- Ensure you have a good computer monitor if you will be staring at it for long periods of time.
- Consider the value of a broadband connection. Your time is valuable and a broadband connection can allow you to get more done in a given time frame.
Use good record keeping practices... please!
You may need to consult a tax advisor who can let you know about the best way to set up your financial records and what records need to be kept. Your advisor can recommend record keeping systems and software may simplify this aspect of your business.
Additionally you can obtain advice on the best arrangement for your bank accounts. You will most likely be advised to have a separate account. Many banks now offer free checking for small business so do your research in to the options available to you.
Keep track of your various logins, usernames and passwords. This can be quite a big deal once your have a number of business resources online.
There are other useful tools for this also from a simple paper notebook to free and commercial password keepers. One popular solution is PasswordSafe.com. They provide a free web based service for storing username / passwords so you can access them from anywhere with an internet connection. They've been around since 1998 so the service is both trustworthy and reliable.
Develop a schedule that works for you, your family and your business. When you mark off a block of time for work, then use that time for work. Equally important is to schedule time for your other commitments - family time, self-education (reading, listening and viewing), "health time" (exercise, cooking and eating), and leisure time. During these other times don't work. Remember, one of the reasons to work from home is to spend more time with your family and you don't want your working at home time to consume your family time.
You are working for yourself and your schedule (by your choice) is your "boss". When you have people calling you or dropping around unexpectedly or maybe out-of-town visitors may want to catch up with you then you need to make a choice. Are you committed to your own business success? What will be your choice in these situations? Only you can decide what is important to you.
In a family environment you may need to negotiate with your family and have your business time agreed upon, during which you will not be interrupted. Put this schedule prominently somewhere so all family members are aware of your work schedule.
These are the ten basics of working at home. Some of these items may change a little depending on the type of business you choose but in essence, this is it. A home based business can be the most fun, most rewarding experience of your adult life as long as you realize there are a few simple rules to keeping everything on track along the way.