If you think of your home business as a hobby that has grown into something that makes money, then it is less likely to reach its true potential. The most successful home businesses are planned and developed properly, with thought and consideration to their end result.
Let me explain. If you decided to open a shop in town selling men’s apparel you would do the following before deciding whether to go ahead with your plans
- Have a look at who else in the area is doing the same or similar (assess competition)
- Research whether your shop would be what customers in the area want or need
- Speak to business and financial advisers about the viability of the project
- Draw up a business plan or feasibility study
- Ask other business owners for advice or help – maybe join a network or forum
- Arrange an appointment to see a bank to arrange a business loan to buy/rent premises, stock it, staff it and shop-fit it
- Get training on how to keep necessary records
- Learn about marketing and advertising your business – where, who to and how.
These are just some of the things that you would consider before you even started your business. So why are you treating your home business any differently. The answer is probably one of these:
- It didn’t cost anything to set up – just the price of a domain for a website
- Nothing to lose if it doesn’t work out
- Don’t have to worry about stuff like shop-fitting, staffing or paperwork
- Don’t need to advertise it because I get customers from my Facebook and other social network sites
- I’m not looking to get rich, just to earn a bit of extra money so I don’t want the hassle.
If you just want a hobby that you can earn money from then this approach or attitude is okay. But if you are still reading this then it is because (even if you haven’t thought about it or admitted it yet) you want more from your home business. You want to be the owner of one of the most successful home businesses, not just a hobby trader.
Let’s have a look at some of the reasons you gave above and see what actually the truth behind these statements is:
It did cost you something to set up. You probably spent a long time building your website or you paid someone to do it for you. You then had to register and buy the domain which also cost something in the way of time and money. How long did it take you to come up with a suitable name for your business? Are you really attributing zero value to your time? Even if you only value it at £5 per hour you would be surprised at how much this adds up to when you take everything into consideration. Don’t sell yourself short.
You do have something to lose if the business fails. Besides all the time and effort you spent on getting it up and running there is the humiliation of having to tell your friends and family that it didn’t work out. There is also the wasted opportunity of what it could have been if only you had treated it with more respect and tried a little harder to make it work. Probably the greatest cost though, and one that no one thinks of is it also knocks your confidence when you fail at something and this puts most people off from trying something else.
Although you don’t have to worry about shop-fitting or staff perhaps at the moment, you do need to worry about paperwork. If you are earning money by any means then you need to be keeping a record of it for tax and insurance purposes. Speaking of insurance, do you have the necessary business insurance in place to cover your activities? If you are providing a service then you probably need some sort of indemnity insurance. If you are offering a product then you need to insure against loss of that product or for in the event that product hurts someone. You should also be keeping a record of everything you purchase for the business – stock, tools, stationery etc.
If you are only relying on your Facebook friends to buy your products then you are seriously limiting your potential. There are millions of people who use the internet every day and some of those will be looking for what you are selling. You don’t have to spend a fortune in advertising, you can reach a lot of people for little outlay. You can also specify what audience you want your product or service to be shown to on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. You can boost a post for as little as £3 per day and over a week it can reach over 1500 people. There are even ways that you can advertise online for FREE! If you really want to be running one of those most successful home businesses then you need to be doing at least a little advertising.
Having a successful business in any arena means being entrepreneurial. Being entrepreneurial means getting some hassle but finding a way through it. Anything in life that is worth doing takes some effort to begin with. You didn’t give up learning to walk or talk did you? You just kept right at it until you could do it well and it came easy to you – and you were only a baby then. Are you lazy now that you are an adult? You need to treat your business in the same way. It can be rewarding, frustrating and challenging. If you do it right though, and treat it with the respect it deserves, it will eventually look after you.
You need to start doing some of the things you would be doing if it were a shop on the high street. Find someone to mentor you. Get some advice on where and how to advertise. Speak to a business adviser who can offer you advice on what to do to be able to achieve what you want with your business. Invest some time and money in getting educated in how to work online – it is worth every penny and pays for itself in no time at all. Find a forum of other business owners who can help and support you and give you some great tips.