I. SELECT THE RIGHT HOME-BASED BUSINESS
* the right business FOR YOU takes introspection and honesty
* it must take into account your personality and characteristics
* it must fit into your lifestyle because your business goals should be an integral part of your life goals…the business is the VEHICLE for your life's goals.
* ask yourself: what do I want out of life and is this the road to it?
* ask yourself: am I prepared to work long hours and make sacrifices?
* ask yourself: is my family ready, willing and able to "support" me?
II. NAME YOUR BUSINESS
* Your business name SHOULD EXPLAIN EXACTLY what you do
* Pick a name that is EASY TO REMEMBER & EASY TO PRONOUNCE.
* Pick a name that starts with the 1st THIRD of the alphabet
* Create the IMAGE of how you want to be remembered
* Don’t pick a name that someone else already has! Be UNIQUE!
III. MAKE YOUR BUSINESS LEGAL
File your FICTITIOUS NAME STATEMENT (this is also known as a DBA – Doing Business As). This is how you tell the government that you are doing business under another name, other than your full legal name and that no fraud is intended. In some areas, you are also required to PUBLISH your DBA; this is how you tell the public that no fraud is intended. These 2 issues vary from state to state, so it is a good idea to check with your local business agencies to see what is expected from you.
You will also need to inquire about a BUSINESS LICENSE; in some cities this is also known as a Business Tax. This is typically issued by the city authorities and the fee you pay is based on gross receipts. If you are going to sell a product, you will most likely have to collect sales tax from your customers. In order to do this, you will need to get a SELLER’S PERMIT. This is issued by the State in which you live, so contact them for full details.
IV. BUSINESS PLAN
A Business Plan is a ROAD MAP of your business. It shows where you are, where you are going and how you are going to get there. A good business plans identifies goals and objectives. It outlines your plan of actions on how you will fund your business, how you will operate your business and how you will grow your business. It is an excellent idea to take a class, read a book, review a software program on how to write a business plan that will be an effective tool for your business.
If you don’t have a customer, you are not in business! It doesn’t matter how clever your product is or how good your service is; it is not important that you have set up a state-of-the-art office and have printed up a truly beautiful marketing piece; what matters is your ability to sell!
* Develop your own selling style; be natural, smile, talk in a normal tone of voice.
* Have a positive attitude and make the customer comfortable.
* Know your business really well; know the industry also.
* Know your objectives – make friends first, educate them, then ask for the sale.
* Listen to the customer – understand their position and offer solutions.
While Sales is an action item = I sell a bar of soap for 50 cents, Marketing is a though process = it is what I do to convince you to buy the bar of soap!
Marketing is Advertising, Public Relations and Networking. It is getting the message out to the public so they learn about you and buy your product or service. When putting together your Marketing Plan, here are some things to consider:
1. Who needs your product or service? An individual or another business?
2. What competing products/services are out there?
3. How is your product unique? What are the benefits of buying from you?
4. What is your selling strategy? Mail order, direct mail, advertising, etc.
5. What will people for it? Research competition's price; survey your friends.
6. How much will it cost to produce and deliver it? Know your numbers!
Some people do not think they need a BUSINESS CHECKING ACCOUNT, but the IRS says you do. When you operate a business, home based or otherwise, you must keep a separate accounting for it. According to their rules, you CANNOT CO-MINGLE funds between personal and business. Poor money management is one of the top reasons why most businesses fail, so keep tabs on how much money you are making, where it all goes and, most importantly, how much you get to keep!
It is important to keep good records – so keep track of your expenses and your income by using a good computerized accounting program. It is worth the money to learn how to use one correctly, even if you plan to hire someone to do the books. It is your company - you should know what is going on! Taxes are complicated and I highly recommend that you sit down with a good small business accountant and hammer out the details of your income vs. expenses and related deductions
VIII. BUSINESS OFFICE SET-UP
* Select a clearly defined work area – bright, easy to get to, large enough for all your equipment and furniture
* Get a comfortable desk with good storage and a chair with good back support!
* Install a designated business telephone line, which will allow other family members to make and take calls without interrupting your business calls. Also, I like the idea of protecting my privacy, so I don’t publish my home phone!
* Use a business mailing address other than your home address. Again, I don’t publish where I live, so I rent a mail box which allows me to use their street address as my own. They also collect my packages for me, so everything I order doesn’t sit outside my door till I get home.
* Buy supplies as you need them. Look through all the things you have at home first; recycle them into a second life.
The home-based businesses that succeed and flourish are the ones that project a positive and confident attitude. We say to the world that we are just as professional, capable, reliable, efficient and successful as the businesses located on Main Street.
It's not where you do the work, it is the quality and service level of your business that matters. This means the way you dress, the way you talk, your message on the answering machine, your business card and stationary. What is the image of your business? Decide what you want the public to think about your business and make sure your image projects it.
Most people leave 9 to 5 jobs in search of a better way, an alternate lifestyle. We want to spend more time with our family, we want to be our own boss, we want to make more money - so what happens is that we end up working 9 to 9...but somehow we say “that's okay” cause it’s our very own business!
Don’t turn into a “workaholic” That is not what you went into business for – you work for yourself because you want to control the way you spend your time and how you earn your living…so use your time and your money smartly! It is important to lead a balanced life. Take your business seriously, but have fun with it! That is what being a successful home-based business means to me!
Helene K. Liatsos
Home Office Management Experts
Helene has operated her own home-based business for over 20 years. Her business is dedicated to helping others start and operated their own home-based business. Teaching, training, coaching are part of the services Helene provides, as well as an online, nationwide course offered through her website. Also available on the website is her DVD on How To Start and Operate Your Own Home-Based Business.