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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.