This article appears courtesy of CISCO's Small Business Resource Center.
Starting a home-based business is never easy. From advertising to zoning, there is always something that requires attention. Here are ten tips to keep you focused on making your business a success.
1. Set a schedule and stick to it. The allure of working from home is powerful — but so is the appeal of spending more time with your family or of taking a nap in the middle of the day. Setting and maintaining a schedule for your workday is critical.
2. Set up a dedicated office area. You can’t run a business from your kitchen table. A successful business requires a fully equipped home office. If you have an extra bedroom, consider converting it into office space. If you do not have an extra room in your home, try setting up a partition to create an office area.
3. Be professional. One of the perks of running a business from home is having the option of working in your pajamas, but your customers should not be able to tell that you just rolled out of bed. Maintain normal office hours and a professional demeanor when answering your phone or dealing with customers.
4. Advertise. Just because you build it doesn’t necessarily mean they will come. To succeed, you will need to advertise your new business. Advertising and marketing don’t have to be expensive, but they have to be done.
5. Familiarize yourself with the applicable tax laws. You are about to enter a whole new world of taxation. To avoid ending up frazzled, take the time now to discuss your options with your accountant or with another qualified professional who can advise you about your tax situation.
6. Check with your zoning commission. Make sure there are no zoning laws that will prevent you from running your business from your home.
7. Formulate a business plan. Where do you want your business to be in six months? How about in five years? Many small business owners mistakenly think that a business plan is only necessary if they are going to have investors. But businesses of all sizes can use a business plan as a roadmap to success.
8. Get on the Web. The Internet is the single best way for a home-based businesses to reach out to prospective customers. Even if your business isn’t “e-” anything, you need a Web site that can function as an online brochure for your company.
9. Do your research. You may think that your idea for your home-based business is unique. But unless you do some market research, you won’t know whether or not your market is already saturated. Market research can help you find a special angle for your product or service, giving you an edge over your competitors.
10. Don’t get discouraged. Many businesses fail simply because their owners became discouraged after a disappointing trial period. You will have to show grit and determination to make your business succeed. Hang in there and do all that you can to make your business the success you know it can be.