Considerations for Starting a Home-Based Business

Home-based business owners are increasing every year. They are CEOs, presidents, the board-of-directors, simply put, “the boss” of their businesses all-in-one. Unlike employers of other companies, every action they take affects their business in particular, the bottom line or ROI. That includes investment of time, money, family responsibility and business sustainability, which includes financing, budget, marketing, advertising, customer relationship and suppliers; maintaining production of services and products and keeping accurate records.

Running a home-based business can become overwhelming, and many aspiring business owners go out of business in less than a year. Does the prospect of working from home sound too good to be true? Well, it shouldn’t. Almost everyone can restructure or change their working life so that they can work at home, either full or part time, for employer, freelancer, affiliate, or independent.

This major life change may take patience, creativity, and a little sacrifice, but before long, you could be commuting from the kitchen to your office, a cup of coffee in your hand and the sun shining through your window.

What considerations or profile is needed to start a home-based business:

Description of the business – describe activities involved in conducting the business task
Start up costs and financing sources – estimates what it will cost to get a business going and suggests financing options
Marketing and advertising methods – the degree of success you enjoy in business is directly related to your ability to continually attract new customers and keep existing customers
Essential equipment – list the basic materials you need to start and run your business, such as computers, internet service, printers, ergonomic furniture, etc.
Skills, training and experience needed – describe the knowledge or background needed, experience and skills you may possess for the business and those skills you need to acquire
Type of business – lists whether it’s an in-home or out of home (meaning you have a home office, you work away from home) business.

People work from their homes for many reasons: unemployment, low salary, high cost of day care, difficulty finding a job, both spouses work to maintain a medium standard of living, single mom, no control over work schedule, etc.

Make a plan; it’s your key for success to achieve your goal. Your road to success requires planning. You must make plans, think about them, and act on them. Action is essential to success as a motor and fuel are to an automobile. A major purpose well-stated is half-achieved, restate your major purpose in the progressive tense, action seals the habit of succeeding and eliminates:

Inability to concentrate on what is important
Loss of faith in yourself
Clinging to the status quo
Lack of organization
Stagnant mind set – custom is king (though it shouldn’t be)
Failure to evaluate yourself

The ultimate formula for home businesses or any business to succeed is really quite simple. What is that? A marketing system for autopilot lead generation ensures long-term success. Here are six reasons why:

Generate quality leads consistently and economically
Convert as many of those leads as possible into sales
Ensure that you delight your customers so they’ll be pre-disposed to buy from you again and recommend your business to others
Repeatedly sell refills, replacements and other products to your family of existing customers
Ask customers to refer you to others who may want the same benefits
Keep going back to step #1 and repeat the pattern again

Though a home-based business may lead to a more hectic home life, home-based businesses have the important element of flexibility not usually found in a 9-5 job. Home-based business owners can tailor businesses to fit the needs of customers as well as their family needs. Truth is, many home-based businesses are mobile in recreational vehicle offices on the scenic routes making hundreds, thousands, and millions of dollars a year. They have the freedom to work in their offices at any hour; run their businesses according to their philosophies; and pursue any opportunity or destination they prefer. A Chinese proverb says, “Journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.” But in what direction? Plan your direction.

When the goal is clear, the purpose is strong; the steps will be decisive, assertive and forceful. Direction and determination decide destiny. Before you open for business or begin to advertise, check with your local authorities about having a home business, your state regulations and licensing requirements. Your regional Small Business Development Center (SBDC) will also have information about your state’s business regulations.

Small Business Marketing Hacks Every Business Owner Should Use

There’s a lot that’s changed recently with online marketing. Most people now go straight to Google to search for something they want. The phone book is out and Google, or search traffic is in. If you are a small business owner you can benefit from the internet as a source of business. What’s even better is that you can tap into this resource for free if you have a physical business.

Google Places

Google Places lets you advertise your local business for free in the search results. When someone searches for a local business in your area, your results will come up first for many searches. This is a simple cost effective strategy you should definitely be employing in your business. With Google Places, you list your local business and Google will send you a confirmation postcard with a Google verification code on it. Once you have verified your listing with this code, Google knows you actually reside at this address, or run a business from it.

Google Places works wonders for small business owners who work from a certain location. If you’re not on it you are definitely missing out on business. Plus, your competitors could be using it which means they could be taking your potential customers. To use Google Places just do a quick search for it on Google and it will take you through the setting up process.

Bing Places

Bing also offer this same listing on their own search engine. It’s just like Google Places so not much to add here really. Simply fill out your details on the online platform and verify your listing when you receive a code in the post. When you create your listing you will have to list your business within a certain category, or two. Look through the existing categories and find the one or ones which are the best fit for your business. This is the same as Google Places. By listing in more than one category, if the platform allows, you can benefit from a number of searches within your local area.

Other Listings For Free

Yell and Yahoo also offer free listings for businesses too. Also do a ‘Google search’ for local directories and free listings and you will find a range of sites which offer free business listings in your area. In some cases even the extra links back to your website can make a difference to your ranking, even if the link itself doesn’t bring you more business.

Blogging

You may well not have the time or inclination to start a blog. However, in some business areas blogging is a good way to increase your business reach online in a fairly cost effective way. Depending on your business, and whether it opens itself to a blog, you can get some good results by targeting some keywords in your business niche, or simply writing compelling content and sharing on social media.

Keyword Research

You can use Google’s free keyword planner to search for terms which are already getting hits on the search engine. By finding long tail keywords in your business niche and writing good content for them, you stand more chance of being listed on the search engine. If you can find untapped keywords which bring in customers to your business, you can write articles which will bring in customers for free for years to come for free.

Paid Advertising

After you have exhausted the free methods of advertising, you can start looking at paid advertising methods. Many business owners try and fail with paid advertising. This is why it is worth learning properly the do’s and don’ts of paid advertising.
Pay per click advertising can make a massive impact on your business. But you should also be very careful. Make sure you start out with a small budget and get properly educated on how to create adverts and which keywords to choose. In particular look at the different types of keyword matches. Get this wrong and you can easily burn through your budget and list your advert for entirely the wrong audience.
However, paid advertising is remarkably scalable. Once you have a campaign which works you can easily increase your budget and you are in a position to pay for new customers.

Return On Investment

When I started with pay per click I didn’t understand return on investment. I ‘dipped my toe in’ and dabbled very tentatively. If I didn’t see an immediate profit, I stopped altogether. This is a mistake. Initially there is a lot of testing and measuring to do with paid advertising. After a while you get an advert which successfully brings you customers. However, knowing the return on investment from successful doing this is a game changer. If your customer goes on to purchase again and again, how much are they worth to your business over a year, or 10 years? Knowing this is a huge key to having the confidence to put money into an advertising campaign. Even if you lose money in the short term, your new customers will bring you new business over the long term. Learn the average spend from each customer over a year and then 10 years. Then decide what each customer is worth in terms of advertising. Does this change your view on what you can afford?

Paid Advertising Methods

There are various paid advertising methods available to use for small businesses online. Start with one method and become good at that before moving on to the next. Facebook advertising lets you target potential customers down to their interests, location and other variables. Pay per click advertising lets you target intent driven adverts. With pay per click you start with the keyword your visitor is looking for online. Once you have tested and measured an advertising method and you have a profitable model, you can leave it running and scale it easily. Then move on to the next one.

Even if you only use a couple of the methods suggested in this article, you can dramatically improve your business with only a small amount of effort. Once you have learned all these methods, you will know how to scale up your business and increase your profits. You can then invest in other forms of advertising, testing and measuring as you go. Whether these are on the internet or offline, using the same strategy (which lets you measure the response of a customer) means you can gradually improve all your advertising methods over the long term, increase profits and grow your business.

How To Start and Run a Successful Lifestyle Business Online

A Personal Insight

Congratulations! You have chosen a really rewarding option into how your business and life will coexist happily ever after.” That was a little note to myself when I chose the lifestyle business option, quite a far cry from a traditional start-up that I was running in the entertainment and events industry after quitting my 9-5 job. The latter required me to be in a specific physical location of course so as to reach and serve my clients.

Today, I run a digital business model and all I need is a laptop handy and an Internet connection. I then choose when I want to do some work and where I want to get that work done. And that my friend is what I call a perfect match! My life meets my business everywhere I go, anywhere I am. The general business rules remain pretty similar and herein I will share my own golden rules that new entrepreneurs will particularly find informative… But first… if you are about to quit your job, you are probably wondering

Can Starting A Lifestyle Business Change Your Life?

No more dreadful Monday morning train commutes to work and staring into a stranger’s face seated across from me wearing sunnies on a cold morning, perhaps a subtle attempt to numb the pain of the lifeless surrounding. They are having the same thoughts as me. “Friday cannot come quick enough”. Then I start thinking about my email box and that Monday morning meeting that I have not prepared for. I have to fill in my boss on the current project status before he can go into another meeting with more important people than me to tell them what I just told him!

I remember having those thoughts and it just makes me queasy as I write this. I know you get the drift. I remember suffering temporary amnesia as I walked out of the house, holding car keys and looking for them all over the kitchen and lounge. I had spent a whole hour pre-occupied in thought on how I will handle the stress that was about to unfold for the next 5 days of my life.

The Road Ahead

As exciting as this new journey is about to be you want to get a few things in order straight away in your new ‘house’ to make this transition process as smooth as you possibly can. That business idea is looking great, you have done lots of research, consulted a few souls preferably smarter than you. You have also been making some new friends. I really hope none of them is still working where you just quit! I soon found out that these friendships only flourished over the years because of shared interests such as office politics that tended to specially thrive on Friday night at the bar when we didn’t have to whisper about overwhelming love for senior management.

The reality now is, you are in an elevated consciousness phase of your life, one that these friendships cannot exist. Your mindset needs to be fed with new insights and nurtured with refreshing thoughts about living a fulfilled life. You have some money saved up in the bank and probably have an actionable step-by-step business plan. There is something of value that you have to share and a strategy to get customers lined up ready to give your ‘something’ a warm welcome into this new world order.

But that is the easy part. I shall be completely honest here; apart from some money that I had saved up at the point of quitting, I really didn’t have much more than a rough idea of what I was going to do. I was risking it all. When I left my day job some years ago, I was at a point where it was either that or I lose my mind.

7 Golden Rules

A New MIND-set:

As with all things new, your mind is the first guy you want to put in check. Let him know there is a new sheriff in town. If you are like me, you have been spending the better part of the last 6 – 12 months buried deep in business books and ripping them apart in your spare time. At some point, you found personal development material captivating. Eventually, you started finding out why that constant nagging feeling of life and lack of fulfilment was. As an example, I had read books like Richdad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki and listened to the audio version of the same in case something was lost in translation! I had also read Think & Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill and Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends and Influence People among others.

This is an activity that you will not want to let slip into the overflowing ‘good habits to continue when I get time bucket’. I had one like that and needed no motivation adding more stock completely in autopilot. Mind food is paramount in this journey. You want to stay inspired a good chunk of the time because this is where the sowing is happening. The thing is as abstract as some of the ideas in this material may seem at this point; I found that with time, it all starts to fall into place as the journey progresses. So do not sweat any concepts that are not clear yet. Keeping the reading habit going is all you need. These books are not really designed for reading cover to cover. Think of them like the SAT NAV system your car or as you own version of a personal SIRI.

It is a known fact that our minds don’t like disruption. Whether that disruption is good for us or not, it is not very welcome without some whip cracking. The mind has got everything figured out. It is a very well trained machine with thoughts and habits that shape your life and works even when you are sleeping, doing the ‘regular chores around the house’.

The 9-5 routine mindset is still at this point deeply wired into your system. It’s advisable to start setting up ground rules so that YOU and the MIND are both on the same page. This takes a while and certainly took me the better part of 2 years. Don’t stress just know there are changes you will need to work on consistently in this area. Oh, remember when I mentioned who your new friends cannot be a little earlier?

Breaking The Bad:

I made the mistake of trying to keep a regular 9-5-like routine when I first started my entrepreneurial journey. Big mistake. What tends to happen as a result is, the mind in these early days of business life, is still largely unaware of the ‘new life in construction progress’. It actively runs the old familiar version of ‘code’ from its 9-5 days in the background in stealth mode. You might know what happens when you try to run a new version of Microsoft Windows on old PC hardware? Yes, exactly right!

All sorts of weird compatibility issues are not unheard of.

I did not understand this myself. The mindset driving my routine was still stuck in the old version. The correct term for this is the subconscious mind. So your poor conscious mind, which is pretty much what we operate on until new ways are ‘learned’ runs into a constant battle. It really wants to change the world for you, it’s ready to work hard, promising to cut the Friday night binge that serves no purpose other than a regular headache which eats away the Saturday morning and pinky swears to cut down on addictive TV shows.

Someone, please explain why my favourite big screen stars are also hanging out in these TV shows… like really?

The Deal With Time Management:

As a new entrepreneur what quickly comes into awareness I would say is the time management beast and what seems to be like an endless stream of unmanageable distractions. In a lifestyle business that is run from home, the park, at the beach, the airport lounge or while on safari at The Mara, this can be a constant battle. Don’t get too hang up on being perfect day one with this one. The more I tried to fight it the more I stressed about it. Stress did not improve my time management skills and only added to unfinished tasks that needed more worrying about… I thought! The time drama continued until I put measures to progressively learn how to improve time management.

Keep educating yourself on what works for your schedule and what sorts of distractions are overpowering you. I can tell you now it’s going to be technology related!

It didn’t matter that I was an early riser who wouldn’t go to bed until my eyeballs were literally unlocking themselves from my sockets in protest. Occasionally I got the odd finger in this scuffle! And sometimes I still wouldn’t give up. Now, this does not necessarily equate to being productive. The actual real result was a constant feeling of exhaustion, elevated stress levels, and anxiety.

Why You Need To Design A Routine That Works Around Your Lifestyle Business

I hadn’t changed my routine so my mind would expect the usual treatment, 9 am we are active at work and then at 5 pm it expects that we are on the ‘winding up for the day phase’. I, on the other hand, had with all good intent, added extra hours in front of the 9 and after the 5. Now you can see where the problem was once I kept this up for a while. Insane!!! Create a new routine and optimise around what works for you.

Decide When You Want To Work… Create A Routine… Then Follow It With Military Discipline

Perfecting this phase when you start a lifestyle business, which means your physical surroundings change constantly, it can feel daunting. However, with a well mapped out daily, and weekly routine that you have the discipline to stick with, you will start to see results. In no time, this will end up running on autopilot.

There’s going to be a lot of 10 to 12 hour days, maybe longer but they don’t and shouldn’t be in your constant daily routine. After all, it’s business around your lifestyle. I have 3-hour blocks and generally leave my ‘heavy lifting work’ for when I get into a state of flow, usually after midnight.

Understanding Your Personal Power and Peak Performance State:

This state starts becoming more regular with practice and awareness. Understand your highs (i.e. peak energy state), lows (this is no time to do the books and usually a good time to choose pizza toppings and make big decisions like thin or thick crust?) and my personal favourite flow state (this is creation mode and a good time to change the World). Pick a block of hours that works for you. Once new habits in your routine become solid you will have an easier time telling these states apart.

It’s not unusual for me to get into flow while at the shops looking at apples and kiwi fruit fresh deals of the day. This state for me comes through an insightful thought or sometimes as a series of thoughts back to back, so please keep a hardcover notebook at all times for these moments. You might just stumble on your best business idea yet!

Time management and productivity is a continuous optimisation process. All you have to do is decide how many hours you want to work. Pay attention to your body clock and maximise for times when you are at peak energy states. Then learn to induce these states through rewarding practices like meditation.

Schedule Fun Times on Tuesdays:

Although it’s not how I started off, I am lucky thus far to be working on businesses that allow me lots of flexibility as to when and where I actually work. If this tickles your fancy you are on the right track here. In my case, all I need is my mac book pro and decent wifi. Tip: When I am in a location where the menu has an under $10 dollar price tag frenzy going on, I move on swiftly.

About Tuesdays

Move all the things you used to do for fun on Saturday to this day. The Keyword here is FUN guys so if mowing the lawn is fun! Okay, you get my point. It doesn’t matter what the activity is but I recommend you do it in the early days of your journey. The feeling is absolutely incredible. For me, it was reading the paper and a coffee down the road.

Do you guys wonder why we still print newspapers today?

So, usually, one or two local Moms will swing by the coffee shop and that is all the action there is. The rest of the ‘real’ world folks are at work. This is my opinion but what I found with being Mr Tuesday is that it gives me a boost of confidence and that sense of freedom where I feel, “yeah that’s right, I can do what I want when I want”.

I will point out here that this has nothing to do with money. I have done this even when the reality at that time was ‘cash-flow challenges!’. I am not advocating that you should smile and be happy when you are broke, no no no. When you think about it, this is when you need your mind at a 100% and if all it takes is a series of 3-dollar coffees down the road, so be it. While on this topic, my ideal Tuesday day is on a yacht surrounded by endless views of blue seas at exactly 11 am and a safety vest in close proximity! Unwanted swimming lessons are not part of this plan.

What does your ideal Tuesday day look like?

Your Inner Circle… Your Players CLUB:

This is an interesting one because if you think about your ideal Tuesday above, how many people do you know today can do that? Initially, you will probably be alone or maybe with someone close to you like a partner, wife, girlfriend or somebody else who probably does what you do, or benefits directly from what you do. I found out that the friends I used to hang out with on Saturdays and Sundays in my previous life no longer fitted in the new life I was creating. It’s a delicate balance but I had to make some changes. For the same reason, of course, the folks at your old job will probably not take Tuesday off to hang out at your newly found happy place to share happy coffee with you.

I could go on and on about this inner circle area of the new life but what I realised and accepted was, I needed to decide as part of the journey, to be alone for a little while as more new quality friendships developed. This is still an ongoing process. As an example, a couple of months ago I was in HongKong for a week just by myself. I had a blast but would it have been nicer to share that escapade with someone familiar?

I met new people on that trip and did things I had never done before. I love travelling and it is one of the reasons why starting a lifestyle business was a brilliant model. The thing is, if I can make friends who also have time to be lazy on Tuesdays for happy coffee and random sun baking escapades, that is probably a good ‘new friend barometer’ check right there! Oh and hopefully of course what they do for money is generally not frowned upon by law!

On the real, though, I personally don’t have many of these friends but I found that this is a good time for me to reflect inwards and to focus on my personal growth. If you are new into this game, this could be a good time to spend with a business mentor, perhaps meet other like-minded people in your local community, go deep into nature or maybe just hang out on social media platforms and engage and find out the latest buzz like who got a cat! Seriously the point here is, have a lot of choices in your back pocket that you can go crazy with and if you have bucket list ideas all figured out, check them off weekly without fail.

Family:

Family is very dear to me and I would imagine it’s the same for you too. Perhaps, much so that you are making this decision to escape the 9-5 and really start learning new ways to make money outside the voluntary solitary confinement space (also known as office cubicle). One of my reasons for choosing this journey was my family. To be more available to them and to enhance my own life experiences. To fill those experiences with what I really want anytime I wanted it. The one thing I encountered and you probably might as well, those we love and care for dearly may not understand the new you. These moments may not be as dramatic such as waving placards in protest but you will see it vividly.

Remember how our minds don’t like change?

It’s not their fault and they are probably coming from a place of love for you. Embrace the response you get with love and remember your bigger mission. I had lots of strange conversations with people I love and would have like to be speaking a foreign language at the time. That way being misunderstood would have been spot on. Then one day I realised, they weren’t really saying they disliked my new outlook on life and crazy ideas like giving up a six-figure income.

They were just saying, “We don’t understand how to process this new information”. Please show us how. You might also take consolation in the fact that how well you manage this close relationship is a reflection of how you will do ‘out there’ where the World is short of people like you and me, people who are lost in self-indulgence and totally unconscious of their daily actions will not understand you either!

Remember, training takes time. That’s what it took for me until they somewhat understood. If you are lucky enough to get the all in response from them, great, if not, give them time and if need be, add the space element to it as well. Be kind to yourself.

At the time, I was on a roller coaster going through a myriad of changes both personal and business that required me to be very present. My first business was in an industry I did not know at all, the physical surroundings were not very familiar (I will discuss this in a later post) and a pending divorce as a result of a strained long-distance relationship. Now, this was a lot of action in one headspace!

In Summary

Your circumstances may be a little different from mine for wanting to come this way and choosing this journey. As you go along, it’s reasonable to expect moments where you will be tried and tested by fate. Things will happen that will be out of your comfort zone or out of your control and sometimes both.

In the end, I find that clarity on my why I do what I do sails me through choppy waters. I embrace whatever comes my way with love. Answers to what I don’t know come in the right time. I keep the bigger mission clear in my mind. Creating a life where I can live on my own terms is not free, there’s a price to be paid.

Another really important thing to have a solid business system. I found my answer with the six-figure mentors. They have a step-by-step business system that shows you how to leverage the Internet and start your very own online business. What’s, even more, is that if your goal is to start your own business say around your passion, the business skills you will learn are second to none. From experience with my first 2 ventures as a newbie without a mentor, I would recommend every new entrepreneur make getting a mentor, their number one priority. Looking at how I started my entrepreneurial journey, this was my single most expensive mistake up until today as I write this.