How To Build a Successful Home-Based Business
Over a decade ago, I made the decision to start a home-based business. Having a successful business, with consistent year over year growth has not been easy. There are so many things I’ve learned along the way. For those who are struggling to succeed or those who are starting out, I’ll be sharing my tips for home-based business owners in this post. These tips will show you how to build a successful home-based business by avoiding common mistakes.
The majority of home-based or solo-preneur businesses don’t make it past the first four years. Why not be in the minority and create a successful, long term business?
All of the following tips are based on real life experiences. It’s amazing how little things can stop a business from being successful, even before they really get started. Avoid the pitfalls and start with the right attitude, and you’ll be much more likely to succeed.
How To Build a Successful Home-Base Business (and the mistakes to avoid!):
Have a business phone number. Most of us no longer have a home phone. Using your cell for business and personal is the norm. I have a cell phone which is my only phone, but I treat it as a business phone. It also means that my husband never answers my cell phone (or kids etc.).
Please record a personalized message letting us know that this phone number does belong to you and that you are in business. Many times I’ve reached someone’s voicemail and have no idea whether or not they are a business. This only takes minutes to do and can quickly lead to more business. Not comfortable recording your own voice? Ask a friend to record a professional message for you.
Make sure you have a long distance plan that allows you to call across the country. Many companies also have great international plans now, or you can also use Skype (low rates) for international calling. Most mobile phones have Skype apps now so you can use it when you’re not in front of a laptop or computer.
The good news is that all of these additions to your phone service are also legal business write-offs*, so technically you’re saving money while investing in your business.
Home Office Tips:
Find a dedicated space in your home that can serve as your office. The kitchen table might be good every once in a while, but having a dedicated office is key. Start by organizing your office so that you can be more efficient from the beginning. And make sure that your family knows that your office is a place of business and not a play area. Life happens though, and there have been many nights where my daughter has wandered into my office in the middle of a webinar.
For those of us who work at home, a word of caution about meeting with clients in your home: I would recommend that most meetings be outside of the home if possible. Until you’ve had the chance to create a relationship with your client, it’s best to keep some degree of separation between family and work. Get to know your local coffee shops and find a way to meet on more neutral ground whenever possible.
Business Card Tips:
Carry a business card with you at all times. You never know when you’ll meet someone unexpectedly who can benefit from your products or service. A professionally printed card gives them a way to connect with you. VistaPrint has come a long way in the past few years. They have great options and excellent customer service. It’s easy to get a few hundred cards for a great price.
Most importantly, do not arrive at a networking function without a contact card. If you’ve made a connection with someone, they will automatically ask you for a business card. However, in the case where you forget your cards, you can also immediately add someone to your phone contacts and LinkedIn or Facebook. I recommend making a note on your phone to remind you that you’ve just added the contact.
On your business card, make sure you have at least the following information: your name, your phone number, email and website. Include your business name if it’s different from yours. The information must be accurate, if something has changed, throw them out and start again. Please don’t use a black marker to correct them.
Don’t have a website? It is no longer acceptable to not have a website if you’re in business. Should your home-based business be in direct sales, chances are they will have a stock website that you can personalize. Even better, purchase your domain name (i.e. julieboyer.com) using a service like Host Gator and redirect your company’s free website to your domain. Instead of www.stephaniesmith.pamperedchef.com; it’s simply www.stephaniesmith.com. The same information shows up when you enter the link, but it’s easier to remember.
Need to create a website? This can be a big challenge for many home-based business owners who don’t have a large budget to invest in the design and build of a site. My platform of choice has been WordPress, however it’s not always the easiest one to use. Many of my friends love using Squarespace and others use Wix. If you are selling a product, you may want to look at Etsy, Facebook store or Shopify, which also give you a built in e-commerce platform.
Social Media Tips:
Be on social media. No more excuses. You’ve got to have a Facebook page for your business at the very least. That means posting and interacting with people on a consistent basis.
I highly recommend getting a copy Gary Vaynerchuk’s newest book, #AskGaryVee: One Entrepreneur’s Take on Leadership, Social Media, and Self-Awareness if you want to learn how to do social media well. I loved the audio book! His podcast – The GaryVee Audio Experience is also very helpful.
Businesses can be ruined with improper social media strategies, so take a bit of time to do this one properly.
Customer Service Tips:
Stay in touch with your clients, especially your repeat clients. Many home-based businesses offer a monthly order or subscription. Are you taking the time to connect with customers you’ve had for months or maybe even years? Send them a thank-you note for their ongoing business. Check in with an email or phone call every quarter and let them know you’re grateful for their silent, but regular orders.
Respect people’s email addresses. The regulations around adding someone’s email to a list without permission have been clear for years and since July 1st, 2014 in Canada, the rules became stricter and violations more costly. Your list IS your business. Let me repeat that. Your list IS your business. If you do not respect people’s email addresses and add them without their permission or an opt-in, you are violating the can-spam regulations. Please do not take my card and add my email to your list without asking me first or confirming by email.
Use an email service provider, such as MailChimp to make sure you are staying compliant. Be grateful every time someone does allow you to add their name to your list. It means that they believe you have something of value. I email a Weekly Gratitude Love Letter to my list every Wednesday morning. If you’d like to join my list, I would be honored to have a place in your inbox every week.
Be kind and courteous. Take the time to return phone calls and emails in a timely fashion. Email can be a challenge for so many of us these days as we are receiving hundreds of emails daily. As for phone calls and texts, my rule of thumb is to reply to a text within 24 hours and a phone call within a few days. When it’s for new business or an existing client, I will always answer as soon as possible. Sometimes my friends may wait a bit longer for a reply. Our world is so fast paced that by not returning a call or message in a timely fashion, the business may have already been lost.
One Last Important Tip:
The fastest way to build your net worth is to build your network (to paraphrase Robert Kiyosaki). Take the time to cultivate relationships with people who may never buy your product or service because you never know who they may refer you to. I recently had the opportunity to refer a new friend I had met through networking and I had not used her services before. It ended up being a great fit for the person who needed her service. Creating a win win for others is an excellent way to build your network.
Although some of these tips seem obvious to many, there are still many home-based entrepreneurs who are missing a few on this checklist. Take an inventory for your own business and fess up below! Tell us what you’ll be changing over the next 7 days in your business. Thank you for sharing this with others! Use the buttons to tweet the article or like it on Facebook. Let’s help more entrepreneurs to be successful right from the start.
*I’m not a tax accountant and I don’t play one on the internet. Please consult with your tax professional.
Stay tuned for what’s next!