No one will ever tell you that running your own business from home will be easy, but you’re not doing it to take the easy way out. If you wanted easy you’d continue going into someone else’s office where someone else pays the bills, worries about the targets and takes care of the marketing. What you want is to be in control, you want the freedom to choose when and how you work – and most importantly who you work with.
However, this freedom can come at a price because starting your own home business is a big risk, but if you can survive the first year in business with these tips, you’ll set yourself in good stead for a long and successful self employed career.
1 – Look after your customers
When you first start out in business you will have a lot of priorities – to make more money, to have more free time and to do the work you love. However, in the first year, you need to make sure that one of your very top priorities is your customers. Without a loyal customer base your business won’t be able to succeed, so make sure you maintain regular and meaningful contact with your clients, respond quickly to their questions and even use social media to keep in touch.
2 – Support systems
Make sure you surround yourself with competent people from the beginning and don’t ever settle for hiring someone who is second best to work in or with your business. Always be on the lookout for talented people who could help you in your business as good staff are hard to come by and choosing the wrong people can severely damage your business.
You don’t always have to hire staff to get a little help in your business, instead, build a support network around yourself from the beginning. Network with other people in the industry as well as friends and other business acquaintances as people who are not directly involved in your business can often point out solutions or offer advice when you are struggling with an issue or decision.
3 – Know your goals well
First you need to know what you want to achieve in your business from the beginning, or it will never be a success. When you have a clear goal you can make sure your goal is compatible with your business model and that it is realistic and achievable.
Then you need to make sure you maintain the passion and diligence to stick to your goals no matter what. During the first year of running your own home business there will be especially tough times and you could give up, but then you’d be back to being just like everyone else schlepping to work for someone else every day. Maintain the commitment to your dream to push through the hard times because the solution to your problems could be waiting just a day away.
You also need to keep a track of your goals and analyse the key areas of your business performance to make sure you are on track. There is so much going on in your first year of business that it can be easy to lose focus, so make sure you have systems in place which help you keep to your plan, reach your goals and identify which business decisions will continue to guide you towards those goals.
4 – Be emotionally fit
When you start your own business from home you are changing a major part of your life and you need to be prepared for that emotional upheaval. You need to change your way of thinking about work, home and that ever-elusive work life balance because you now not only work from home, you live at work.
You are also in business on your own at the end of the day – even though you may have a network of support and a team of staff members, the final decisions, ideas and drive come from you. You must wear a number of different hats in your new role, and to make sure you are prepared for the changes and challenges of the first year in business, be prepared to work long hours, 12 hour days and weekends. Make sure you have the support of your family and know that they understand there will be new expectations on them – answering the phone politely at home and keeping the noise down while you’re trying to work. Finally make sure you are pursuing a business venture which excites you because the love for your business idea is what will see you though the late nights and the stressful times.
5 – Build a business
Your first year in business is a time to really create the foundations, plant the seed and set up the systems of the business you want to have in the future. This means really building a strong business by:
1. Finding out whether working for yourself will really work for you.
2. Developing systems you can work within.
3. Experimenting with what works best for your clients while you have the freedom of time as most people will wait until a business is more than a year old before working with them.
4. Learning how to deal with customer complaints, how to provide the best customer service and show client just how valuable they are.
5. Learning how to network properly and effectively by building relationships.
6. Modifying your business idea into one which is viable and will make money in the current environment.
7. Learning about yourself and whether you have the dedication and strength to run your own business from home full time.
8. Learning how to deal with stress and still be able to function in the office and socially.
9. Learning about the business laws, regulations and tax obligations for your area and your type of business.
10. Experimenting with the best way to manage your finances, when to send invoices, the terms of payment and how many bank accounts you will need.
11. Observing your own business and identifying what works and what doesn’t.
12. Making mistakes and learning from them because in the first year you’ve got the least to lose and all the time in the world to make up for those mistakes.