The are many reasons to start a home-based business: to earn extra income, to supplement an existing salary, looking to new horizons after leaving a permanent job through redundancy or company downsizing or to fulfill a lifelong dream. Whatever your motives, thanks to the growth of the internet and the changes in the way people work, there has never been a better time to start your own business. You too can take advantage of the freedom offered by running a business from home, with its lower costs, reduced travel expenses and the flexibility to choose both the environment and hours that suit you.
Top Tip: You are in good company as Apple Computers, Lush Cosmetics, Facebook and even the Ford Motor company are just some of the household names that started as small home-based businesses! So, let’s get started.
Step 1 – Make A Solid Commitment To Your New Venture
Ask yourself a question: how many of the success stories that you have read about were founded by people who simply sat back and dreamt about it? The hard truth is that if want to achieve something then you need to make a commitment – for as long as it takes to succeed. It’s highly unlikely that you are going to make your fortune overnight, but if you persevere you will succeed. It doesn’t matter if you can only commit 15 minutes a day, what is important is that you make those minutes count by always giving 100% effort.
Top Tip: Apparently Thomas Edison took 1,000 attempts before he invented the light bulb. He never said I failed 999 times; he said I spent 999 learning how not to invent a light bulb!
Step 2 – Have You Got What It Takes To Become Your Own Boss?
The answer is yes! It helps if you enjoy taking risks and the responsibility that goes with it. It also helps if you like hard work, making decisions and the challenges that come with owning your own venture. And finally, it’s extremely useful to be well organised, have the ability to stick to deadlines and can work with figures. But the fact is if you don’t have all of these qualities (and very few people do), then simply find someone who does. So, for example, if you aren’t familiar with the requirements surrounding keeping records, hire someone!
Top Tip: Success is 5% inspiration and 95% perspiration.
Step 3 – What Business?
It could be that you want to start your own nail salon, a pet grooming service, be a language tutor, physiotherapist, landscape gardener, affiliate marketer, eBay seller, create self-help videos, set up an ecommerce website… the list is almost endless. The fact is that it doesn’t really matter. Because the steps to success are the same for every business. What does differ is the way that you manage and respond to the needs of your particular business or sector. If you haven’t yet decided upon a particular business, then there are literally thousands of ideas for business, covering every imaginable product and service. Whichever you choose, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is there an identifiable gap in the market for your product or service?
- Have you identified a product or service that you just can’t seem to find?
- Can you make a living from your hobby or something you are passionate about?
- Can you offer a product or service better than someone else?
Top Tip: At this initial stage it’s also worth exploring the common mistakes that start-ups make and how to avoid them.
Step 4 – Developing Your Business Idea
The next step is to dig a little deeper and define exactly what products and services you intend to sell and, equally importantly, who you are going to sell them to. Even if you already have a fixed idea of what you want to sell, you still need to focus more intensely. It’s not enough to say you are going to sell pet products, you need to focus on what types of pets and as a consequence what products those pets would need. Marketing your product and conducting a little market research yourself can make all the difference between success and failure. You can discover the buying habits of your target market, geographical location and even who your competitors are. You can gather a great deal of this information, by simply spending some time searching the internet and gathering a list of businesses that are already trading in your chosen field. In addition you can scour the ads in local newspapers and shops to see who is out there or even conduct your own market research by asking people in the street if they would be interested in your services.
Top Tip: Your family and friends often say it’s a great idea, even if they think otherwise, just so they don’t hurt your feelings. So ask some independent people.
Step 5 – Do You Need A Business Plan?
The good news is that not every business requires a formal plan, especially if your home-based operation doesn’t require any outside funding. Click here to learn more about Sources of Funding for Start-ups. The problem with a business plan is that not only will you have to learn how to put a plan together, they can also take weeks to prepare, time that may be better spent concentrating on getting your business off the ground. In fact, studies have shown that having a formal business plan for a small home-based venture really makes no difference to the ultimate success of the business. The time when you may need to produce a business plan is when you’re looking for potential financial support. It’s not just for banks, but also if you have to approach family, friends or business connections. The clearer your vision and the more organised you look, the more likely you are to get the support you desire.
Top Tip: Matt Coffin, founder of LowerMyBills.com, secured funding of $4 million from investors simply by using a 10-page PowerPoint presentation!