How do you work from home?
As someone who works from home (along with all the other things I do — solo parenting, homeschooling, special needs kiddo, etc etc), I get asked this question a lot. How does one start a business? How do you work from home anyway?
Working from home doesn’t always mean starting a business. There are some work-at-home jobs. They can be hard to find, but there are several sites that list places, such as Amazon, Xerox, some hotels, health care providers and insurance companies, that hire at-home workers. The Work at Home Wife is a great place to find legitimate work-at-home jobs, but be warned, the competition is fierce, and the jobs are often location specific.
Personally, if you want to work from home, I recommend starting a business. A job, even a job where you work at home, means you are still tied to someone else’s schedule, you still only get paid what someone else is willing to pay you, and you still have a boss, that you still have to please, or risk getting fired. Just because it’s at home doesn’t mean a job will suit your needs.
How do you start a business?
If you start a business, however, a lot of those inconveniences disappear. Your schedule becomes a lot more flexible. You don’t have a boss and the only person you need to please is yourself and your clients. And.. you get paid what you tell people to pay you — you determine your prices and charge accordingly.
So how do you start this business? There are 10 things you need to figure out in order to start a business, that will give you a fighting chance at making it work.
Think about it.
You really should give some serious thought to what you want to do in your business. Just slapping together a website, putting your name and contact info on a Facebook page and expecting people to pay you money isn’t going to get you very far. You need to get painfully clear on who you are, what you’re doing and why! You need to be very very sure of who you want to serve, and what you want to offer.
This goes with #1, but pay attention here. Figure out what motivates you. If you’re an introvert, you may not want to take on a direct sales business, where the more people you talk to the better your profits. But an extrovert probably isn’t going to make the best website designer either, given the amount of computer work involved.
What is your ideal working environment? Is it absolute peace and quiet and clean, calm environment? (If you have small children at home, you’ll need a separate home office.) Maybe you prefer working around people, so you’ll do better in a cafe or library.
What about your ideal day? If you are a morning person, you’ll probably love to get creative and problem solve before the rest of your family wakes up. If you are a night owl, you probably aren’t going to be wanting to schedule client meetings for 9 am! These logistics will help figure out what kind of business you’re best suited for.
Know what’s out there.
Don’t be scared of competition. When other people are doing what you think you might want to do, that means there is a market for you! There is money to be made there. If you think you have a great idea, but no one else is doing it, double check why. Maybe you are meeting an unknown need.. but maybe the idea isn’t that great either.
Have a support team.
I don’t mean you need to run out and hire people right away. I mean find yourself a “tribe” — a community of like-minded people who will support you, help with the panic moments, and maybe even provide you with a mentor. Find someone who did what you want to do, and ask them their story. Follow the blogs of those who are doing what you’re interested in. Email them! We love to hear from people, and most of us are happy to help others.
Networking events, trade shows, craft shows, your local small business centre at city hall, or the local business association are all great places to check out and ask questions. Don’t forget your online world as well. Join Facebook and LinkedIn groups, Twitter lists and follow Instagram or Facebook accounts. Put yourself in the position for opportunity! The old saying “It’s not what you know, but who!” is more true than ever when it comes to self-employment.
Have a business plan.
It doesn’t have to be on paper, though putting it down on paper is a good idea. You just need to have an idea of what you’re going to do, what you’re going to charge, what your costs will be, and what you need to make to turn a profit. Having a business plan will help you determine if your business idea needs adjusting or fixing before you start.
Find ways to use your “genius”.
Starting a business means figuring out your particular genius and how to use it to help others. It really is that simple. An easy way to figure this out is to look at what you get asked a lot. What is your most frequently asked question — or type of question? For me, one of my most frequently asked questions is “How do I do what you’re doing?” and this post, this blog and my business, is my answer to that question!
Run to it.
Starting a business because you hate your job is not a good reason to start a business. Don’t run from something. Run to something. You need to start your business because you are passionate about what you’re doing. If you aren’t passionate, you won’t be able to make it through when work becomes a bit of a chore, becomes a bore. Passion is what turns work into play.
Starting a business puts you squarely in the driver’s seat. Take charge of your business. When you’re in control, you minimize the risks. But… when you’re in charge, there is no one else to blame! You must be able to take responsibility for yourself and your decisions in order to start a business.
Charge what you’re worth.
Nobody starts a business to be a starving artist or indentured servant. It may seem scary to charge the big numbers, but it’s important to be very clear about the value of your time and effort. If you don’t value yourself, no one else will respect your time or your work. Oddly enough, charging higher prices will actually attract more customers, because it shows you’re serious about your business.
Starting a business can seem like a big step. It can feel huge and scary and overwhelming. I sympathize! But you don’t have to have everything figured out right this second. It took me about 6 months from the decision to start a business to actually generating income. If you need help with any of the steps, I’d be glad to set up a time to chat.