We are entering the third decade of the 21st century and more people than ever look for ways to start their own business and work from home. With eCommerce becoming the major trend of 2010’s and social media taking the central stage, accessing new clients worldwide has become easier than ever before. However, running a successful small business from home means fulfilling the following essential requirements, regardless of which industry you are in. If you don’t cover the basics, you will never build a successful “home-empire”.
1. Online presence.
If you are working from home, your online presence is EVERYTHING. If you are not on any social media, if you don’t use email, if you don’t have a website – you are nothing to people that you want to reach with your business. This is very simple, but too many people say “I don’t know this channel”, or “I have never done that before, I don’t think it’s for me”… Then being an at-home entrepreneur is not for you. Create a website, create a Facebook page/Twitter or Instagram account/engage people on Reddit, or no one WILL HEAR ABOUT YOU.
Having just a website, is no longer enough. In the early 2000’s you could try and grow it organically, by smashing the right keywords together and putting out daily content. In 2020’s this won’t do.
Here is just a brief list of all the social media that you could be using:
There are so many channels that you could utilise, which brings us to the next point…
2. Don’t spread yourself too thin.
This may seem counterintuitive to the previous advice, however there is a difference between utilising 2-3 channels, and trying to do ALL OF THEM at the same time. You may think that just because you are now working from home you have all the time in the world. WRONG. There are still just 24 hours in one day, and by attempting to be everywhere at the same time, you could be losing out on a golden opportunity in one particular channel.
If you don’t have much experience running a Facebook group or a LinkedIn page, then you should systematically test every channel, one/two at a time, until you find one that works for you. There is nothing wrong with dedicating 5-6 (or even more) months to seeing which of these will help you get more traffic, customers and so on. Just remember – you have to double-down on the ones that start working for you. If you have 1000 clicks from your Facebook page and zero conversions, and only 50 clicks, but 10 conversions from LinkedIn, then guess what? Facebook audience is not your audience. Stop publishing content on Facebook, and 3x your publishing rate on LinkedIn.
Just because you are working from home, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be putting all your available time into your business. Let’s be clear – no one knows who you are and no one cares. It takes time to build your client base and your product line. Are you offering services, rather than physical products? For example marketing or copywriting, or maybe you are an incredible video editor? Well, good news is, you don’t need to spend time creating a physical product, finding suppliers and couriers. Bad news is – you have to spend that time searching for clients/customers and trying to stand out from the crowd of hungry online marketers and “experts”.
Put the time in, don’t complain, and things will start to look good.
4. Basic accounting.
This part is underestimated by so many freelancers, and yet it is absolutely crucial to any successful business. You need to decide if you are going to start a company right out of the gate, or if you will first try to acquire your customers as a freelancer. For example, in the UK, you can set up as a sole trader, and invoice your clients as a one-man-shop. Or, you could start a more popular option – a limited company, which would limit your liability and help make yourself look more “established”. (You can also form a partnership, but since you are just starting your business from home, the first two options will be a lot more efficient).
Once you have set up: taxman is at the door. You need to file your accounts. Before you set up a business, calculate: your expenses, money in the bank, profit margins (on different services and products), and what your runway is (i.e. when will your money run out). REMEMBER, that since you are running your own business from home, it is not only your responsibility to submit returns on time, but also to look after yourself, part of which is spending money on such essential things as rent and food.
5. Looking after yourself.
You may have set up a brilliant operation, but if you get 4 hours of sleep a night, barely eat anything and have absolutely no desire to carry on after 6 months – what’s the point? Most people start a new business from home simply for the sake of living a better life. Only two months in they realise that this new life SUCKS. Don’t be that person. If this is what you are meant to do – enjoy it. This means being frugal up to a fault, and yet having everything you need to be healthy.
6. Meeting other people.
Just because you are starting a business from home, it doesn’t mean that you should never leave your house again. After researching your niche, it should be clear to you: where your clients hang out, where your potential partners could be found, how you could reach them apart from cold emails and cold calls, and so on. Use the local event groups and “offline” locations to meet people. Not only will you find that it is useful for your business, but it will help stimulate you as well, and get quick feedback on what you are doing right away (even if the person giving feedback doesn’t convert into a customer straight away).
There is nothing magical about working from home, but when you have your basis covered, you can grow it into something truly special.