Enjoy this guest post from Amy Collett, the creator of Bizwell.org, a website that helps professionals and entrepreneurs build and strengthen their personal brand. She is the author of the upcoming book, "You, Exemplified: The Role of Personal Branding in Your Professional Life." When she isn’t helping clients boost their careers or businesses, she enjoys coaching her daughter’s soccer team and training to become a yoga instructor.
-Nick Venturella, owner, tinycareer.com
Circumstances may vary, but sometimes it makes the most sense to invest in ourselves, and start our own businesses from home. Working from home will save you on the costs of commuting and office rentals, but it does have some challenges. Here is what you need to know to start a successful business from the comfort of your own house.
The first thing to do is to decide what you want to focus in. What are your skills? In what areas do you excel? How can you apply those skills to niches that are untapped or waiting to be expanded? Often, if you have skills in a certain area, becoming a consultant is the logical choice. You can apply your knowledge and experience to others and help them fulfill their needs and achieve their goals while earning a living for yourself
Once you know your point of focus, create a website delineating your skills and your past successes. The most pressing issue, once your area of focus is established, will be finding clients. Think about whatever existing network of communication you have and take time to map it out. How do your current relationships fit into your business? It’s going to take a lot of time making phone calls and drafting emails, but with this network established, you may be able to grow it and find new customers. Things may be tight at first, but hosting or speaking at events for free early on can get you exposure and may earn you some good contacts.
Think Outside the Box
If becoming a consultant isn’t a good fit, or you are still trying to pin down your niche, consider alternative ways to work from home. These could be anything from being a virtual assistant to something more active, such as pet sitting. You can set your own prices and schedule, which can allow you more time to research your business and be choosy about what pets you sit, from breed to size to age. You typically make a good living doing so, and you may even create connections for further down the line.
The most important aspect of staying productive is your mindset. Having a workstation, such as a desk, that is designated only for your business can help you get into “work mode.” Just as you would with a traditional office, have a structured beginning and end for your work time. Take breaks at regular intervals, as this helps your brain recharge and refresh. Don’t spend your whole time sitting, either. By getting up, even just to stretch or walk in place, you can help your brain stay focused. One thing some people find effective is to give themselves treats after meeting goals they set for themselves. Reward yourself in a way that makes sense for you.
Lastly, make sure you’re turning off distractions. That means no Facebook, unless it’s your business account, and then only answering client questions or posting relevant information. No funny cat videos, and no catching up with family or friends. Do that on your break.
For starters, you’ll need a good office to keep productivity up. Get a desk that fits in your work area, and make sure you have a comfortable chair. You may need storage space for your business materials, so be certain that your desk has the space. If not, add to your capacity with cabinets. You’ll need the right business tools to stay on top of your workload, and to make things easier. Familiarize yourself with Google Docs and Dropbox, as this will be a necessity. Trello and Asana can help you stay organized, and Slack is a good way to keep connected with clients. Do some research to figure out which tools will work best for your business.
Becoming a freelancer, a consultant, or working from home in any capacity is an exciting opportunity. However, you need to be prepared before you start. Do your research, make a good workspace, and stay focused. You can do this.
Tiny Career Blog
Tiny Career is a site about entrepreneurs and small businesses learning how to grow while promoting what they do.