Patrick G. Mackaronis, co-founder and Director of Business Development at social media startup Brabble, has seven wonderful steps to starting a successful business from the comforts of your own home.
If you are thinking of going starting a home based business you are are not alone! Each year several thousand people begin a business at home on either a full or part time basis. The process brings with it a myriad of emotions to include excitement, anxiety, and uncertainty since there is no certain outcome. However, if you dream of charting your own course, developing a business from concept through operation, feel excited by the challenge, and believe you will enjoy the freedoms that business ownership brings with it, then move forward because the rewards for success are many.
While there is no set formula for ensuring that your business will thrive, you can greatly increase the likelihood of success by creating a strategic plan of action. The brief outline of steps which follows is just such a strategic plan and should enable you to embark on the path of entrepreneurship much more confident of your ability to succeed!
Step One: Setting Realistic Expectations
One of the first questions to be asked in starting a home-based business concerns your expectations with regard to business ownership. One of the first tasks to perform in deciding to start a home-base business is to carefully reflect on what it will take to establish a successful and growing firm. Certainly it will take financial investment, how much will depend on the type of business you establish, but it will also consume large amounts of your time from inception trough day-to-day operation. Carefully consider how prepared you are for this journey.
Does your home have sufficient space to accommodate a home-based business? Do you have the financial resources to begin? Are you prepared to put in very long hours and possibly seven day work weeks to get the business up and running? How will this time commitment impact your family? Do you have an already established network of potential customers? Are you prepared to assume the risk that the business may fail?
The above questions are not intended to dissuade you from starting a business; quite the contrary, they are meant to guide your thinking. By establishing a realistic mental outlook at the outset, you will have gone a very long way toward turning your dream of business ownership into reality! Being an entrepreneur is all about mind-set!
Step Two: Which Business is Best for YOU.
If you have made it to Step 2, congratulations! You have carefully weighed every consideration and are ready to take the next step on the entrepreneurial path. Now it is time to decide which business will be the right one for you.
As a first step, it is best to evaluate your skills, past experience, needs, interests, and hobbies to see if one of them sparks an idea from which you can build a business. You can record your thoughts with regard to each area in your journal to help you in clarifying your thoughts and narrowing your focus. Although starting a home-based business in an industry with which you are familiar can be helpful in terms of a limited “ramp-up” period, it is a misconception to think that you need to build a business based on your prior professional experience.
Many successful businesses were built by people who had an idea and ran with it! It is well known that those who feel a “passion” for their business are much more likely to succeed in! Once you generate some possible business ideas, do research to test its feasibility in the marketplace by performing industry- and consumer-based research. After you have narrowed down the choice to three or four ideas, you will want to assess which most closely align with your skills, preferred work style, as well as financial and lifestyle goals.
Step Three: Financial Considerations
A primary consideration in starting a home-based business is the total costs involved, as well as a thorough analysis of your current financial situation. The total costs include not only the monetary outlay necessary to launch the business itself (licensing fees, professional fees, supplies, etc) but also how much money you will need on a monthly basis to pay your bills and meet other financial obligations. However, careful planning combined with research into all the avenues available for financing means that anyone with the desire can certainly achieve the goal of small business ownership!
Step 4: Develop A Business Plan
It is well recognized that the creation of a well thought out and strategic business plan has been an important factor in the success of many small businesses. A business plan is basically a blueprint for how you will operate the business. While many business plans are written for the purposes of obtaining financing, it is generally a good idea to create a plan even for your own use.
The plan need not be very lengthy if you are not seeking funding, but should include all the essential areas such as legal structure, marketing research and the development of a marketing plan, as well as financial projections, most importantly the cash flow and income statements. Overall the creation of a business plan will help you to clarify your goals and objectives for the business, as well spot areas where you will need to make adjustments so that you can move forward with a clearer picture of the road ahead!
Step 5: Managing Your Business
Congratulations! You have moved through all of the preparatory work for business ownership and are now ready to get into the nuts and bolts day-to-day operation This will be a time of excitement as well as confusion since you won’t know where to start with so many priorities ahead of you! Your first task will be to carve out a separate office space in your home where you may work undisturbed so that you are able plan out all the steps necessary to launch a great new company! Your second task is to create a strategic plan with daily, weekly and monthly goals for every area of the business: financial, marketing, and operations. Think of it as the beginning of your policy and procedures manual.
The important thing is to not overburden yourself but, rather, to create a realistic plan with deadlines you know you will be able to meet. It may very well happen as you move through the stat-up process that you will find the need to change the order of goals or delete/add others. This is part and parcel of business ownership where the first rule is that nothing is written in stone!
Step 6: Developing A Sales Mind-Set
Every business owner is first and foremost a salesperson, no matter the product or service being offered. There is just no getting around the need to perform sales-related tasks if we hope to firmly establish and then grow the business. With this in mind, we can see that developing a sales mind-set is a critical skill for any business owner. To develop a sales mind-set is it helpful to think of yourself as an educator: you will be teaching your customers or clients all about your product and service and how it can benefit them. It is widely known in the sales world that consumers don’t purchase the product or service in-and-of itself, but purchase the feeling which that product or service instills in them. The key to successful sales is persistence and patience. Having a sales mind-set means you understand and accept that a “no” today can very well turn into a “yes” tomorrow through a targeted and consistent marketing campaign!
Step 7: Purchasing A Franchise
There is another avenue to home business ownership aside from starting one on your own and that is to purchase a franchise. Franchising offers many benefits such as a successful track record, fully formed operational plan, ready-made marketing materials, on-going support (so that you are in business for yourself but now by yourself”), along with the opportunity to obtain financing, either in-house through the franchise itself, or through the franchisor’s affiliation with third-party funding sources. There is a wide selection of home based franchises for you to explore so no matter your particular area of interest, there is very likely a franchise to match it! If you have a dream to be a business owner but would also like to work within an established and successful business model, franchising may very well be the answer for you!