Selling Successfully (Your One-Stop Resource for Setting Up, Managing and Marketing)

Homework - 10 Steps to Success

The phone rings and before you can get thru the hello, your computer crashes, your dog starts barking, the doorbell chimes and your 15 year old daughter rushes into the room in crisis mode - a classmate has purchased the same prom dress and she wants you to take her to the mall NOW or her life will be ruined.

Enter the world of the home-based business, where entrepreneurs struggle to develop a successful business, while maintaining a harmonious balance between work and family, all within the confines of their own home. We have put together a list of 10 Steps you can take to help ensure that you achieve success in your HomeWork.

1. Get the Support of Your Family: Make sure your spouse or significant other is in agreement with the new work-at-home plan. Their lives will be affected and you may need them to assume new responsibilities within the family unit. Involve your children in small ways, they can straighten shelves and keep things tidy. Older children can help to maintain your customer database on the computer.

2. Do Your Homework: There is no substitute for gathering information about the business you wish to engage in. Check out similar businesses, find out as much as you can about the competition - pricing structure, what marketing strategies they use, who is their target market. You can find this information easily by surfing the web, going to the library, attending trade shows, becoming a member of the chamber of commerce.

3. Keep Your Day Job: Starting a new business is challenging enough without adding the stress of not having enough money to live on added to the mix. It is a good rule of thumb to have at least 6 months income saved at all times. This will help to pay for unplanned expenditures and give you time to get your work-from-home business off the ground. Rest assured that it will take time to grow and become profitable. If staying at a full time job is not feasible, then opt for part-time employment to assure you have some measure of financial security.

4. Define Your Work Space: Ideally, you would have a separate room designated as your business space but this is not always possible in the beginning. Instead, you can carve out a space within your normal living area by creating boundaries using your desk, a bookcase, storage cabinets or even plants. Make sure it is understood by all, that this space is for work and not a free-for-all computer game station. If you only have one computer in the house, then set up a time schedule for when other household members can use it. Be respectful of their time as you want them to be respectful of yours.

5. Set Limits: Establish working hours with planned breaks. This puts everyone on notice you are serious about your endeavor and will help to eliminate unnecessary interruptions of friends or family dropping by your `space' to `chat'. One of the bonuses of working at home is the ability to make changes to your schedule should your family duties require it.

6. Avoid Isolation: Working from home doesn't mean you need to be tied to your computer at all times. Understand that isolation breeds stagnation and stagnation is deadly to an entrepreneur. Get out and mingle in the real world - network with others in the same field, have lunch with a friend or just go for a walk. Participating in online chats will also keep the isolation in check and gives you a place to present your ideas and get valuable feedback.

7. Big Bad Bookkeeping: The best advice is to just do it. Don't let all those receipts and invoices pile up right next to the dirty laundry because, just like the laundry, no one is going to rush over and do it for you. If you wait - you will pay dearly to have it done. And the real down side - you will never know if your business is a success or not! So, we repeat: Just Do It.

8. Have a Plan: Even if it is only scribbled on the back of lunch receipt. Take the time to put into words what you want to achieve, how you plan to do it, and a realistic time frame for getting it done. Define your sales goals in dollars and cents. Be reasonable. And, be patient.

9. Be Flexible – Evaluate and Change: If you find your product is not selling as you would like, try to determine why. Maybe, all that is needed is a small design change or new type of material. If you deal in one specific type of collectible, consider expanding your product base to include complimentary items. Check your pricing. Understand that low sales numbers do not necessarily mean you are charging too much... it could be your charging too little! Ask others for help if you need it. Good, honest feedback is valuable.

10. Quality Counts: Your primary focus and aim, in every aspect of your business should be on quality. Without quality, your business is doomed. Answer your emails promptly. Ship your orders as specified. Abide by your return policy without haggling over it. Package your items professionally: neatly and securely. Photos should be crisp and clear. Descriptions should be accurate and well written. And be pleasant at all times.

Working from home has many challenges but with persistence, hard work and planning, the rewards are many.