Want to work from home? Think before making the leap

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Launching a home based business can be fun and rewarding with the right planning

Ahhh, to work from home. The ultimate dream job.

No boss looking over my shoulder. Can set my own hours. Work at my own pace. And, hey, become a millionaire! That’s what the website says, anyway.

Work from home, home based business

If it were really that simple, we’d all be lounging around in our bathrobes, sipping coffee, reading the sports pages and watching our portfolios go through the roof.

Working at home can be extremely rewarding and satisfying. Think carefully before doing so, however. It’s a big change for you and your family. The following thoughts stem from working on my own for nearly seven years.

For more advice, go to the Small Business Administration’s website, found at www.sba.gov. Type “tips for starting out” in the search box.

Have money in the bank. It could take months to see a check. Can you wait that long? Some experts suggest you have at least six months’ worth of cash stashed away before starting. Remember that all your regular bills still need to get paid.

Research the company. Go beyond the website that caught your eye. Review the firm’s standing with the BBB, Dun & Bradstreet and other rating firms. Legitimate work at home companies attract and keep honest sales associates (known as affiliates). Contact several affiliates for their frank assessment of the product or service, and what’s involved in being an affiliate.

Can you sell the product? Disregard the hype on the website. Every legitimate work from home business idea is lucrative. Can you really see yourself trying to sell the featured product? Be honest. If you’re not sure, you won’t do well. And no one wants to buy from an unconfident – or worse, a pushy and shifty – salesperson.

Does the market need your service? For those who start with their own idea, it’s good to know that demand exists. Perhaps you’ve been moonlighting to test the waters. If not, consider doing some market research before making the leap.

Be disciplined with your time. No one is looking over your shoulder. Are you really hard at work from 8:00 to 5:00 (or whatever hours you choose)? It’s easy to slough off and surf the ‘net or take naps. Train yourself to make maximum use of business hours.

Have clients at the start. If possible, bring a few from your existing position. Of course, honor any noncompete agreement. The sooner you have customers lined up, the sooner you will start seeing those checks.

Market continuously. Especially at the beginning, you’ll need to promote yourself heavily. But even with some accounts under your belt, stay present in the marketplace.

Attend networking functions and trade shows, join business or charitable groups, engage in social media, publish a newsletter – do whatever is appropriate to keep you and your company at the top of mind of your prospects.

Delegate, hire for admin duties. You as the proprietor of a home based Internet business will wear many hats. That can be inefficient. If you’re spending greater amounts of time in non-billable duties, hire a person or firm to do those tasks. Focus your time and efforts in serving your customers and building your business.

You are responsible for all expenses. Don’t like the health insurance premiums you’re paying now? You’re in for a shock. Plus, you’ll need to buy all the office supplies and whatever else is needed to run your business. This is another reason for the healthy bank balance initially.

Apply for a business credit card when opening your accounts. Use that for business expenses, but stay on top of that bill, as well.

Create a comfortable office. Distractions are the bane of any business. Limit the noises, foot traffic, and other elements that keep you from concentrating on your work. Incorporate ergonomic design in your home office. Some steps are quite simple, as you’ll learn from this blog post. (Note the embedded column that talks about simple stretching exercises you can perform.

Starting a home based business requires planning and preparation, but you can be successful. If you’d like a PDF version of this list, provide your name and email address in the form at right.

I wrote a white paper on this which contains many of the same suggestions. You can download a free PDF copy by providing your name and email address in the form at right.

For related reading, see “A successful business requires strong organizational skills, branding efforts” and “Practice firm time management for a more productive day.”

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Tom Fuszard, content writer, blog writing, pr writing, web copy

 

 

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