02 Nov HOME-BASED BUSINESS? DON’T MAKE THESE ERRORS!
The hardest part of running your own home-based business is not making the mental switch from being an employee to being an employer. You are so excited to have a viable idea and vague plan on how to make it happen, you don’t pay attention to what will really propel your business forward. Here are some traps that you must avoid:
1. Don’t marry your idea till death do you part. While I always emphasize being really specific about selecting a home-based business, it is also wise to keep an open mind on how to best take that product/service and spin it into other concepts. Don’t get hung up on one thing; the key is to explore many avenues and have a variety of ideas. One woman I know makes a very nice product and she sells through family and friends – they sell to their friends and host home parties. Going to a fair or festival or open air market is something she does not consider (too much work? Fear of success?)….not sure why she is adamant about staying where she is, but she is certainly limited and certainly stuck in one place. Had I personally stayed within my original idea of working with one client after another, I would not have experienced the growth I did. By accepting the new technology and opportunities that came my way, I am able to offer local classes/training, online course, a dvd and an e-book all based on a single “how-to” manual I put together for my clients 25 years ago!; therefore I help more people on a larger scale.
2. Don’t know who your customer are. We live in a fast-paced world. People are linked and connected to everyone and everything. They find what they are looking for by making a couple of clicks. Who are your customers? Where do they live? Where do they buy from now? How often? Do they buy related items to the product/service itself? Over the years I’ve learned to position my products/services in the marketplace by being my own customer. If I wanted to buy such a product/service, where would I look? What would I be looking for? What value and benefit would I get from such a purchase? How many similar products/services are out there? And, why would I buy one over the other? By studying the competition, I get to see my business in relation to other businesses. Does anyone stand out? Does MINE stand out? Why would someone pick me when so many others are available?
3. Don’t plan ahead. We all know (or we all should know) about the importance of having a Business Plan – you just don’t start a business without one. But did you know that you will need a Marketing Plan as well? This outlines how you plan to get the product/service out to the public so they can buy it. Picture a farmer (in the old days) putting his corn in a wagon and driving to the market square- that was his marketing plan; that was how he took his product to the market. What does your wagon look like? How are you taking your product to the market? Advertising, website sales, consignment, distributors, etc? Make a list of what you plan on doing and then do the research as to how much these strategies cost. And then, you will need a Sales Plan. This is the way how you will gage your financial growth – where will your sales come from and how will they reach you? What system do you have in place to facilitate the sale and get paid?
4. Don’t live in your own head. While it is important to be focused and disciplined in your business, don’t get “cabin fever.” It is typical of new business owners to have a vision in their heads about owning a hugely successful business (and enjoying the lifestyle!), but often these newbie entrepreneurs have yet to generate a sale. I see this quite often, sad to say. Just the other day, a student of mine was quite animated about getting incorporated and trademarked, but when questions about her business, she confessed she has not decided on what type of business to start! A local business owner started his business; he named it, registered it, created a website, bought trucks and equipment, etc. Only to be sued by a company that does what he does and has used the same name for over 50 years! Had he looked past his own nose, he would have seen who the competition was and what name they used and saved himself money, time, effort and aggravation. Take one step at a time and make sure it is solid and realistic before you move forward.
5. Use other people. This is not a negative thing….it is a good, wise thing to do. There are many business owners out there who would be eager to be your mentor or to give you some guidance…I truly believe that people like to help. Find one in your community – ask your accountant, attorney, neighbor, your kid’s teachers and sports coaches, etc. Contact the Chamber of Commerce and other business organizations – get involved there and meet people. In many cities there are organizations that help small businesses; they are typically economic alliances or development centers. The one I am affiliated with is the Small Business Development Center in Southern California; we help people with all aspects of business start-up and growth and the good news is that the SBDC is nationwide!
I don’t know about you, but when I travel I like to use a map. I have a vague idea of how to get to my destination, but I don’t know all the route numbers or sights along the way. I apply this to my business too….I put together a road map on how I will operate and which pitfalls to avoid. I do this as an investment in myself because I LOVE WHAT I DO AND LIVE THE LIFE I LOVE!
The Home-Based Business Expert