If you plan on running a business out of your home, you need to acquire some home business management skills that are easy to learn and easy to implement. While there isn’t a blueprint for success, there is a rough outline. It’s not enough to want to run a home-based business – you have to know how. You can go the “trial and error” route (many home business owners have done so), or, you can learn from others’ experience to save yourself time, effort and possible heartache.
Plan Your Home Business the Right Way
The right way is simple enough. Have a plan. You can’t just jump into your home business with both feet without first doing some homework. Here are a few things you should do before launching your home business.
- Research the market.
Make a list of competitors. Take notes on each. What are they doing right? What are they doing wrong? What is their value proposition? What is their pricing? What are their marketing channels? What are their distribution channels? Answers to these questions will help you determine how to position yourself in the market.
- Pay for expert advice.
Get expert advice, particularly before you start your home business. A business advisor can help you create a business plan and determine a marketing strategy, but more importantly, test the viability of your home business idea before you invest time and money. The opinions and advice of an independent 3rd party are invaluable. Independent advice keeps your ideas, preconceived notions and bias in check.
Read “How to Research Your Market” at entrepreneur.com.
Develop a Marketing Plan
Attracting clients or customers is an ongoing effort. Starting with a marketing plan that outlines the who, where and how of marketing will help target potential customers. Your marketing plan may include:
- Market research (trends, growth, competitors, opportunities).
- Customer personas.
- Unique selling proposition.
- Marketing channels.
You can search and use free marketing plan templates at Mplans.
Manage Your Time
One thing is certain. When you run a home-based business, you’ll be pressed for time. One element of home business management you can’t afford to overlook is time management. There are numerous time and project management apps available, including: Todoist, Any.do, and Wunderlist.
Network with other Home Business Owners
Networking is a great way to get and share ideas with other home business owners.
- See if there is a MeetUp group in your city or find Meetups near you.
- Visit Score.org. SCORE is “the nation’s largest network of volunteer, expert business mentors”. Find a mentor, take workshops and get free business advice.
- Join a discussion or read home business/freelancer forums.
Do Your Own Bookkeeping and Financial Management
Doing your own bookkeeping can save you money and also gives you the insight you need to make wise business decisions. Flare is online accounting software for small businesses and freelancers that allows you to easily do your own bookkeeping. You can create and send invoices, record and track expenses and export financial reports with no experience required. More than that, Flare’s financial dashboard is updated in real time and displays important financial information at a glance.
Learn to Spot Income and Expense Trends
After your home business has been up and running for awhile, you’ll want to analyze income and expense trends so you can prepare for peaks and valleys.
Identify high-value projects and clients
Knowing what your most valuable projects are and who your most valuable clients are can help you focus on services that bring you the most income.
Identify wasteful expenses
It nearly goes without saying that you should know, to the penny, how much you spend each month. Make a habit of reviewing monthly expenses and identify those you can afford to live without and those that you can possibly reduce. Know when and why your expenses were high and identify seasonal peaks so you can prepare and and prevent cash flow problems. A good small business budget application can help.
Know Your Deductions