How To Start Your Home Business (Or: How To Make Extra Money At Home)

Beginning a home business can be a daunting task, especially if you have a family or another job to take care of.

The distractions you have to overcome have the possibility to prevent you from accomplishing anything you set out to do. It is important to establish a plan of attack that gives your idea (or a business) the best chance of success.

Develop a Business Plan. No, I’m not talking about a 110-page detailed report on how you plan on paying back your investment. Those things never work out the way they should anyway. I’m talking about outlining your plan of attack. In this short business plan you should:

1. Describe your product or service you are offering. List the price, availability, estimated time to produce or provide the service. These can be bullet point half sentences, nothing official here, folks. This is meant to be an internal document, but also one you can easily pull out of your desk drawer and reference from time to time to make sure you are on the right track. If you’re in doubt about going this career track, take a free career quiz.

The typical business plan advice is to develop a plan for 3 to 5 years out. This is too long. Stick with planning the first year. If you think you’re education is not at par, check out some online education options. They’re great nowadays and you can follow them while you’re working on your business! Make your business plan just for the first one or two years as there are too many variables. Too many things change over the course of your first year to even think about years 3, 4, and 5. Plan year 1, evaluate throughout the year and make it into a sort of “evolving business plan”.

2. Determine your niche and describe your target customer base. This is where you really need to be honest with yourself and make sure that your business benefits are clearly aligned with the needs of your target customers. Make also sure that when you’re working from home, distraction must be kept to an absolute minimum! This is key to becoming successful.

Getting this wrong can sink your new business in a heartbeat. It’s not hard, just be honest. Are you providing a product or service that there is a market for? Are there enough potential customers out there to sustain a new business? And do they have a reason to buy from you instead of your competitors?

3. Labor relations. Determine who is going to complete the work. Who is going to do the work? Are you outsourcing or fulfilling it all on your own? Also include things like what are your normal working hours, where will your office or workspace be located, and how you intend to accomplish everything. Keep in mind childcare if you have kids in the house.

Where will they be when you work, or do you need to make arrangements so you can “go to work”. Maybe you can set hours for when they can and cannot enter your workspace. Or, if necessary, hire a sitter for a few hours a day. If you’re working on your business website, keep in mind that website registration is useful but that it has to be set very low.

And know that managing your sales pipeline may be complicated but organizing how you prospect customers experience your business is essential to your business. Choosing the best tool is critical and salespeople should really be aware of the possibilities and benefits of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software.

4. Set a goal for how much you intend to profit. This can be whatever form makes the most sense to your business. This can be $100/day, or $20 per transaction, or never going in the red. Again, this is based entirely on what your goals are for the business and what you want to accomplish. Some people may want this to be an income-replacing full-time job; others may simply be seeking some residual income for spending money.

I know there was a lot of information there, but keep this document short and to the point. Like I said before, use bullet points where possible. They are easy to draw the eyes to and makes it easier to process information. A strong business plan is not dependent on how long or detailed, but that the right information is concluded and understood by the business owner.

A well thought out detailed business plan means nothing if the owner cannot or does not carry out the plans and stick to the philosophy. However, a short, concise, to-the-point plan can be very successful if it outlines the main ideas and keeps the owner focused on what to do in order to be successful.

Staying Productive and Focused With Your Plan – Everyday distractions can seriously impede on your goals to make money and succeed with your business as shown in this post with online tactics for small businesses. The following are some things you can do to increase productivity and morale in your “workspace”.

5. Set a scheduled time to work. By being consistent you train your brain to think in the same way each day. You need this extra level of concentration to stay on task and keep from being distracted. Plus, you will be more effective in your work of fishing for clients by allotting a certain time slot and knowing you must complete the work in that time frame.

This is also great for those with families because it is scheduled and can be planned around if needed. There is nothing more annoying to a spouse than finding you buried behind a laptop or on your blackberry during “family time”.

6. Create a working environment conducive to productivity and clear thinking. Clean off your desktop and minimize as much noise as possible. A clean desktop lets you start fresh every time you sit down to work, and it’s proven to reduce stress because you won’t feel overwhelmed. Even turn off your cell phone or put it on vibrate if you have to. If it is an option, find a workspace with a door and close it.

7. Eliminate chain-reaction websites. These are sites such as YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter that take you from page to page and you can quickly find yourself burning up 30 minutes to an hour while actually accomplishing nothing.

So close out your Facebook and Twitter browsers, or don’t open them in the first place. Be aware that content can make or break your business so if you do need to go to sites like these, be conscientious about how much time you are spending on them. Set a timer if you need something to remind you when you’ve spent too much time on them.

As you probably noticed, preparation plays a huge role in building a successful business, whether it’s devising a business plan, or prepping your workspace. By doing these things, you are giving yourself and your business the greatest chance for success.

Not every business will succeed, but every business has a chance. And what I’ve noticed is that some of the most successful and prospering businesses aren’t always the best ideas, but rather the ones that had a plan and stuck to it, even when others said they shouldn’t.

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