The day you start your own home based business is exciting, isn’t it? You are now officially an entrepreneur. You are your own boss. You may have a lot to learn, but you have started on a journey that will take you through the thrill of building your business to the rewards of an independent income. You are feeling confident and positive. The idea of needing professional business coaching is probably the last thing on your mind.
A few weeks or months down the line and perhaps you are feeling a little less confident. Perhaps things are not moving as quickly as you wanted. Customers are not beating a path to your door, or you might find you have so much to do and so many distractions, you feel out of control. You might even be feeling disillusioned, overwhelmed, unfocussed or simply exhausted.
The reality is that many people set up a home business without considering some of the realities of working at home. With a little forward planning you can avoid some of these pitfalls, or if you are already several months into your business, you can quickly turn things around to work better for you.
Here are seven tips for consideration when running a business at home:
1) Have a designated work space. If possible, it’s best that this is somewhere where you can shut the door and not be interrupted by others. If you have a study or a spare room, this is ideal, but if it has to be a corner of the living room or bedroom, you do need to have an agreement with other members of the household about the times you need peace and quiet to work.
2) Organize your work space. Keep your stationary, stock and other resources in order near by to avoid wasting time looking for things. Keep well stocked up and make sure your work area free of clutter, as this will affect your ability to think clearly.
3) Organize your time. One of the biggest challenges of working at home for many people is time management. Set up a timetable and a system of to-do lists, so that you are very clear of what you need to do and which days you will do it. Every day write down the tasks you are going to do and do the important ones first. Constantly prioritise your tasks and do not allow yourself to be distracted by domestic phone calls, emails and family matters, except, of course, for emergencies. Your family and friends also need to know the times you are working so they do not interrupt you.
4) Have a plan. “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail”, the saying goes. Many new entrepreneurs fall into the trap of getting caught up in “doing” without having a coherent plan. Of course you want to get on with important tasks, but without setting goals and creating action plans you will drift aimlessly and become frustrated, unfocussed, distracted and eventually demotivated. By planning what you want to achieve, developing a step-by-step action plan and sticking to it, you will then stay on track and waste less time.
5) Build a Support Network. Some people discover that working at home can be lonely, but you do not have to feel like this. There are plenty of support networks that you can join, both offline and online, depending on your subject area. By joining networking groups or online forums you will not only get plenty of advice, support and encouragement, but you will grow your business by making connections.
6) Be professional. Sitting at your computer in your pyjamas may sound like a good idea, but in reality it does not work. Unless you feel smart and professional, you will not be able to present yourself to the world in this way, whether they can see you or not. It is vitally important that you treat your business as a proper job: Set up a separate banking system, create professional looking marketing materials and be courteous and polite when dealing with your potential or existing customers. What kind of person do you prefer to do business with? Be that person.
7) Develop a positive mental attitude. Although this is the last item on my list, it is by no means the least important! Self belief, confidence, determination, patience and perseverance are all qualities that any entrepreneur needs in business. If you fall short in any of these, find ways of developing them. If you are not prepared to develop yourself in these ways, you will be severely handicapped in the business world.
These are just some of the ways you need to approach your work, and are the foundations of all successful home businesses. If you are struggling to maintain your home business, or have difficulties with confidence and motivation, professional business coaching may be your next step.