1. Create a business plan
Don’t be afraid to make plans. You may end up completely re-writing them as your business develops, but you should always have a roadmap. You can easily download a business plan template online to help kick-start the process.
2. Designate a workspace
Working from home can be a huge challenge with the distractions of daily life. It’s important to designate a workspace that is quiet, efficient, and inspiring for you. Take time to plan the space. Find furniture and supplies to help make the most of your space. Create a system of organization that makes sense to you. Decorate your work area so that it is a place you enjoy being in.
3. Set a work schedule
It’s so much easier to procrastinate when you work from home. Don’t do it! Set a schedule and stick to it. This is your business, so don’t be afraid to develop an offbeat schedule, if you need to. Work evenings, if that’s easier. Give yourself Wednesdays and Saturdays off, rather than the traditional weekend. Whatever schedule you choose, be sure to hold yourself to it.
4. Use a calendar
So, you are the boss now. You have to be organized. Take the time to set daily, monthly, and even yearly goals for yourself. Always be aware of the task at hand, with an eye toward the tasks that are approaching. Using a calendar is the best way to ensure you will stay on track.
5. Develop your branding
Be aware that your business name and image will (and should) become synonymous with everything you do. A great business name and image will help draw people in, and brand recognition will bring them back for more. If you are not design-savvy, it is well worth the investment to find a pro graphic designer to help you create an artwork set. There are many independent creative professionals on Etsy.com who offer affordable rates and a unique design eye.
6. Blogging and Social Networking
Blogging and social networking are great ways to get the word out about your business. This can also help to build links for search engines to find you. Try to focus on updating 1 blog regularly and using 2-3 social networking sites to start. It’s better to pay special attention to a few sites, rather than opening up a bunch of accounts and never using them. In addition, you should always remember that your post activity represents your business. Be polite, be professional, offer your original perspective, promote others and please don’t spam us.
7. Be aware your business vs. personal finances
Registering your business as a sole proprietorship does not mean you shouldn’t have a separate sense of your business and personal finances. Always have a clear understanding of living expenses when making plans for the business. There is no worse feeling than realizing you’ve spent your grocery money on office supplies or vice versa. Consider using computer finance software such as Quicken Home & Business, so that you always have a clear picture of your financial situation.
8. Find cost efficient ways to advertise
You don’t have to spend $1,000’s on an advertising campaign. Determine who your target market is and go where they are. Wise use of blogging, social networking sites, forums and chat rooms will take you a long way. When it’s time to spend money, buy a printer so you can create your own business cards and targeted fliers. Offer discounts on your goods in exchange for links, bulk orders, or repeat customers. Create custom button pins, magnets, stickers to give away as promotional gifts. Use that business ingenuity to get the word out about your business without spending an arm and a leg.
9. Pay yourself
In the age of Wal-Mart and Target, people are used to cheap goods for cheap prices. New business owners may be tempted to under value their products and services to keep up with Target prices. Don’t do it! Everyone deserves to get paid for the work they do. To price your products, just calculate time plus labor. It’s that simple.
10. Accept help
Running a home business can be overwhelming, but you don’t have to do it completely on your own. It’s OK to ask for help when you need it. Whether it’s a family member, a friend, or if you have to put up a flier at the local post office to seek an extra pair of hands, allow yourself to get the help needed. Finding menial tasks that someone else can do will allow you more time for creating advanced strategies.
Ali Puckett is the owner and operator of Buttonhead Custom Button Pins. http://www.buttonhead.biz/