Friday, May 13, 2005

So, you want to work from home

Here are a few key tips for lifting your home business performance.

Market research and business plan
It is vital, regardless of the kind of business you intend to run from home, to research it's potential. Is there a genuine need for the products or services you intend to offer? Talk to local potential markets, friends, local businesses you might service, check the local library, business development organizations, and the Internet for information.

Sit down and write a business plan that should encompass this research plus establishment cost estimates, descriptions of the goods or services, cash flow projections and a management plan (accounting, marketing) and work schedule. Monitor your progress against your plan.

This is one of the first "home" problems that will encroach on your efforts. Don't let it occur - move immediately to get involved with local business, sporting, social, charity and school groups. Use the "down" time you may have to make contact with potential customers or check in on established customers. Ask them for leads. Look for business partnerships that will expand your business.

Stay focused. When you feel that you're losing motivation, go back and re-check your stated goals. Are you on target. Why not? Work through your plan again. Focus on key positive aspects. Visualize what you want to achieve. Set yourself several achievable targets for the day, week and month. Put in that extra phone call at the end of the day! Give yourself a break at appropriate times.

If you've done some market research (and tested the market) you should know who you are targeting. Take the time, effort and a little money to create good marketing tools (business cards, brochures). A simple, eight to ten paragraph, one page press release, summarizing what you're offering (highlight it's unique qualities) and how to contact you, can be sent to local newspapers and radio. But listen to and read carefully the media you intend to target to ensure you give them the right story. Be a little offbeat, unusual in what you present. Always measure response.

This is vital - make contact with industry associations, local business support groups, speakers' organizations, business networks etc. Offer to share your knowledge and experience. Don't be afraid to encourage interest from friends and family.

First and foremost, discuss your plans with your family. In balance, depending on the age of your kids and from talking to many home business people, it is better to involve children to some degree than exclude them. Make them feel they're part of what you are doing. Don't overdo it, unless there is a genuine enthusiasm. If possible, set up your business apart from the traditional living areas of the home.

Look And Sound Professional
Install a separate business and fax line. Make use of the variety of telephone services (call waiting, call diversion), good quality answering machines or answer service, to ensure you present your business in the best possible light.

Make the effort each day to dress presentably - whether casually or for business meetings. Sloppy appearance leads to sloppy performance.

NB: This information is provided merely as a general overview. As we have clients internationally, we appreciate that conditions may vary locally.