Thirteen lifesavers for failing home businesses

Home businesses are not as easy to run as one might expect. Sometimes, the home environment can be more of a burden than a blessing. They’re notoriously easy to grow distracted in, for one. But it’s not just the environment. There are all sorts of problems that home businesses can run into. Lacking premises and size can easily work against a business. You also need to ensure you know the ins-and-outs of online communication because you don’t have a physical storefront. Here, we’re going to take a look at some of the most common problems facing home businesses. Hopefully, we’ll spot some solutions, too.
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By THOR (Home Sweet Studio) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

A bad work environment

There’s nothing less conducive to getting some work done than having an environment unsuited to it. That’s why you need to set up your own home office properly. Take your work into consideration. What will make it easier? Positioning yourself away from the window will rid of one easy distraction, at least. Setting up storage options like filing cabinets or cork boards can make organising all the easier, too. Mobile phones are no longer seen as unprofessional, so it might be smarter to use that instead of your landline, too.

A stifling work environment

However, even if your home office is the best home office ever, you might sometimes need out of it. People running businesses get these opportunities all the time. Escape the office to go to a meeting or a conference. If your business is online, it might be harder to do that. That’s why it might be a good idea to find a co-working space near you. Sometimes even the presence of others working in the area can help you get on with yours.

You don’t know who your customers are

Even if you’re getting some customers, if you don’t know who you’re selling to, you’re missing vital info that can help. Using analytics to identify your customers and their habits is becoming more important than ever. Google Analytics is one of the most readily available tools for doing just that. With a proper grasp on the identity of your customer base, your marketing and services can be more specifically targeted than ever.

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Your customer base isn’t doing enough

Sometimes, you might find that your business is doing as well as it can in its customer base. However, there just isn’t enough customers in that group to give you the growth you want. This is when looking to new markets or diversifying your approach can help. Services like https://adeptia.com/ are adept at helping you manage B2B clients.
Partnerships with other organisations can expand your own customer base by
piggy backing off theirs. You can also purchase your own sales leads to convert
entirely new customers.

Making bad impressions

Part of any major business is reputation. If you don’t have a good reputation, you’ll find it harder to make new business. Unfortunately, not all of your reputation is down to the services you provide. Word of mouth can be as powerful a detriment to your business as it can be a boost. This is why making great first impressions with potential clients and partners is important. Make sure you know proper business etiquette and don’t neglect any promises made, no matter how small. Protect your reputation to protect your business.

You can’t network right

Of course, part of the benefits of those great impressions goes beyond your customer base. You want to network with other businesses, too. Sharing information, techniques and potentially resources can give your business all kinds of benefits. Use LinkedIn to build better networks online. Join open networks to have a vast array of connections at your fingertips. Find people who can offer you something and have something in mind to offer them. Make sure any exchange is equal and fair. You don’t want a reputation for doing little heavy lifting on your end.

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Photo credit: Charles LeBlanc

You’re not getting enough out of your customers

We know, it can seem like asking a bit much to expect your customers to do more than buy your product or services. Normally, you’re trying to have them expend as little effort as possible. But,  http://copyblogger.com/ states that testimonials are a powerful tool indeed. Find customers that are willing to share their opinion. Normally, this means a lot, since people like to be heard. Use their testimonials and have them become advocates for your company. This can be a better form of marketing than anything you produce alone.

You don’t know how to get in touch with your customer base

You probably already know that social media is just about the best method of reaching people online. It’s revolutionised marketing for all kinds of businesses. But revolutions are rarely free of mess. There are all kinds of social media platforms, so deciding which ones to use can be tricky at the least. Which platforms do you use? Think about which your target demographic is most likely to use and the benefits of your product. Visually appealing things like food and fashion brands should use Instagram, for example. Everyone should use Twitter.

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Photo credit: Jason Howie

Your social media messaging isn’t working

Don’t worry about having a bad start to your social media campaign. Online communities usually take time to build. You want a steady trickle, realistically. Sure, you might get a sudden deluge of followers, but don’t count on it. Don’t be afraid to approach it like a beginner even if you’re in the middle of a campaign.

It’s too much work!

Running a business single-handedly is never an easy thing to do. Especially if things start to pick up and grow. You will probably need employees at some point. But that doesn’t mean you have to abandon the home set-up and spend tons on a premises. Remote workers are growing more and more common. They can be a lot less of a hassle to manage, too. When you’re hiring remote, make sure you use a lengthy trial period just to make sure they’re handling all the work you set without issue.

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By Carissa Rogers (http://www.flickr.com/photos/goodncrazy/6104867657) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Your family is getting in the way

If you’re running a business from home, why not use all the assets you have at your disposal? We’re talking about your family. http://theartofsimple.net/ has a few good ideas on using your family to make your home business a family business. Use their strengths to compliment yours. Make sure they understand what time is business time and personal time so they’re not getting in your way. Ask them to help you with organisational stuff. Your family should be supportive of your business ventures, so use that support.

You can’t stand out

Crafting an identity online is not an easy thing. There are thousands of companies vying for attention, so how do you stand out? Branding is the key. You need to design a brand that is strong and simple. Condense what you think of your business down to three key words. What do you want your customers associating with your business? Ensure you take it into account in every step of your communication and visual design.

You’re being treated like a lesser business

The truth is that size matters when it comes to business. There’s a little bit of a stigma against home business owners because they haven’t reached the prestigious sizes of others. As http://marketingdonut.co.uk/ recommends, the key is to act like a bigger business. A better website and a better name can make you seem much bigger than you are in reality. If people believe there is more space and more people behind your work, they’re likely to treat your set-up more seriously.

Home vs. high street: Which is best for your business?

There’s a lot to consider when thinking about moving out of your home office and into a high street retail store or office. Certain businesses are better suited to specific environments. So, it’s important to make sure your business will excel from the prime location.

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Photo credit

Home

Benefits:

Relaxed Schedule

No office, no store, equals no working hours. Well, no official ones anyway. Your zero-hour contract means you can do as much, or as little as you like on any given day. This is the sort of freedom that some parents may crave. A relaxed type of schedule might attract freelance writers in particular. Could this type of working life benefit you?

No Childcare Costs

There is no need to fork out for childcare while you’re working from home. Many parents can care for their children, or family members while working from their living room. Advances in technology have meant that our work and home lives can now run parallel alongside each other, and this is great.

Drawbacks:

Lack of Social Contact

I have children, but if you don’t have kids, then this can be very disheartening! It’s nice to have somebody to chat with and work alongside all day – even if they do grind your gears now and again. Are you the type of person who would miss this sort of daily interaction?

Limited to Online

While the internet is one of the most powerful tools for buying, selling, marketing and growing a business, it is also somewhat limiting. As a small, work-from-home business is unlikely that you will possess a massive online presence. Therefore, you’re not going to be able to maximise your client base as well as you could be as if you were based on the high street.

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Photo credit

High street

Benefits:

Retail Store

If your business lends itself to having a retail store to market and sell your products in then make use of it! Your company will benefit from an increased volume of sales thanks to the vast number of shoppers on high streets. You’ll also get passers-by coming into your store, creating extra revenue by being tempted into impulse buys. POS displays are excellent for this. You may want to consider these aspects if your business is still stuck online.

Offices

If you don’t need a shop for your business, and your work is simply desk-based, then consider the high street. Hiring an office is a great way to improve the reputation of your business and also allows you to distribute your work. It opens up the possibility to hire employees and provides that social element you may have been lacking at home.

Drawbacks:

Strict Working Hours

Moving to the high street means self-imposed working hours, which are never nice. You also have no time to look after family members or children – which would be a struggle for most parents.

Running Costs

There is also the maintenance of your office or retail store to consider. Does this concern you? If so, it may be worth looking into a fully serviced office. Sadly, you’re out of luck with a retail store.

This guide has outlined the benefits and drawbacks of both the home and the high street. Hopefully, it has helped you make an informed decision on what is best for your business.

Five business ideas you can build from the comfort of home

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Luckily, it has never been easier to start a business from home because of the Internet. It is lucky because the job front has never been as bleak due to the after effects of the recession that are still evident today. So, instead of going out and looking for a job that has hundreds of applications, you can just create your own. There is no need for physical office space, employees or even conventional methods of advertising. The only thing you need to start an online business is a computer and a drive to succeed.

Here are some of the most popular businesses that you can start from home.

Babysitting

If you have the mornings and afternoons few, there couldn’t be a simpler way to make money. The best thing about babysitting is that you don’t need additional qualifications or certificates. As long as you know parents who need a babysitting service, you can look after children in your home. Of course, you will need to start small because parents won’t leave their children with strangers. But, once you start creating a buzz, you can make a lot of money.

Freelance

Freelance relates to almost every industry, which means it doesn’t matter what your profession is in most cases. The best example is a freelance journalist or writer. They secure contracts on freelancing websites and complete the work remotely. With a freelancing contract, you don’t have to worry about getting up early and going to the office. All you have to worry about is completing your work by the end of the day.

Personal Trainer

With the right amount of space and the right qualifications, you can educate people on how to look after their bodies. Obviously, personal trainer businesses are much harder to startup because you need a certain amount of knowledge of the human body. Plus, you need to certify your business as a personal trainer and get insurance. If that doesn’t sound like too much hassle, there is no better way to make money and keep fit at the same time!

E-commerce

E-commerce businesses can take a variety of shapes and sizes. In fact, an e-commerce business is any business that trades goods over the Internet. You might be an antiquities dealer, or you might sell old clothes on eBay, but you are still under the umbrella of e-commerce. Generally, they are great businesses to start because they don’t need much to begin with. People will buy old junk that you have wanted to get rid of for years! To get your project off the ground, checkout Magento Developers software. Over thirty percent of the world’s e-commerce platforms have been created with the software.

Bed & Breakfast

Do you have a spare room you don’t use? To get the most from the room, rent it on couchsurfing.com or other similar sites. People will pay a good chunk of change to rent a room for a couple of days or even an extended period.
The above are just suggestions. Your business can be whatever you want it to be.

How to make money online

It’s not long now until Business Plus Baby’s fourth birthday. In the last four years I’ve seen a LOT of business opportunities and I’m still being approached by people who want to recruit me to theirs.

“I’ve just found this amazing new opportunity and it blew my mind. Here, take a look..”

No thanks.

(By the way, if you want to avoid getting ripped off or taken for a ride take a look at why aspiring work at home mums are vulnerable.)

It’s not that I’m being obnoxious, I really do admire anyone who has the get-up-and-go to start any new venture. It’s just that wanting to make money online (or anywhere else for that matter) is completely the wrong place to start.

There is no quick or easy way to make money online. You have to do it the old-fashioned way, which is…

  1. Work out what people want
  2. Provide it at price they are happy to pay
  3. Promote it so lots of people know about it

Yep, find something of value and ask people to pay you for it. And if they don’t want to pay you, keep changing your offer until they do.

Don’t be put off by all the doom and gloom of the ‘current economic climate’, if you’ve got something that people want they will pay you. If they aren’t paying you then you’re offering the wrong thing, so change it.

I know that all sounds simple, and it is. But it’s certainly not easy – ‘simple’ and ‘easy’ are two different things. I’ve tied myself up in knots many times trying to find something that works. No, I don’t know how something so simple can be so bloody difficult to do either. 🙂

So whenever you hear those words ‘how to make money online’ remember that you’re starting from the wrong place. Instead ask yourself “what can I offer that people want to exchange money for?”

Nobody cares that you want to make money online. They want to know what you can do for them.

If you enjoyed this post, why not make sure you stay in touch by joining  my mailing list? I’ll also send you a copy of  my e-book Running a business around a family: 9 steps to success.

 

Eight tips on how NOT to start up your work at home business

Helen Neale is owner of the Printable Reward Charts business, KiddyCharts. She is a former business analyst who gave up her role as an outsourcing expert, to focus on being a parent and a freelance writer. She is a Britmums editor and writes regularly on parenting, and small business issues. She can be found, perhaps too regularly, on Twitter and Facebook.

We all make mistakes – and I am pretty sure that many of you have made a few in setting up your businesses; from the smallest coaching company to the 100,000 consultancy business.

I know that I have made a few, and continue to do so. None of them *shesayscrossingfingers* have been catastrophic ones, but some have cost me money. Money I shall never get back, but has give me a valuable, if painful, lesson.

So, to those thinking of setting up their own business, here are some classic mistakes….so, let’s not start that new work at home business…. [Read more…]