Working from home is the way to go if you want to be free from listening to someone tell you what to do. It’s also a great way to end the frustration of letting someone else decide what you’re worth. While there are many ways to work from home, many don’t allow you to control your time and income. One that does is to run your own online shop.
But, like anything else in life, the best opportunities are not always the easiest.
Running a home business can have three potential downsides:
First, unless you plan your business, things can fall apart without a solid infrastructure.
Second, it is more difficult to establish a work-life balance. With a regular job, you leave the house, and then work undisturbed in your office. Since your home office is only a room away from your husband and kids, things are different. It’s now more tempting to spend more time with your family then on your business.
Third, it’s easy to treat your shop as either a hobby or a job rather than a real business.
Let’s look at 3 strategies to overcome these potential threats to your business.
Strategy #1: Plan your business.
Four cornerstones to your business are your website, online safety, marketing, and customer relationships.
- Your website.If you know how to manage your website, then you’re all set. But, if you don’t, then you should learn all the technical skills you need to know. If you don’t like techy stuff then hire a technical support person to help maintain your website. This can be a part-time position.
- Online safety. Just because you have a small shop doesn’t mean that hackers will ignore you. Many hackers look at small online vendors as the low hanging fruit. It’s easier to exploit code in small business websites than hack corporations. Corporations have IT staff and extensive protection. Additionally, the threat is not restricted to your online business. Your personal data on your hard drive is also at risk. The company behind the Frontier Secure suite of products warns, “With constantly evolving technology, it can be hard to keep up with computer safety. It is important that all of the personal information you may send and store on your computer is safe and secure.”
- Marketing.Keep the pipeline full with marketing. The better you get at marketing, the more your business will prosper. Getting better means making a study of marketing systems though online courses. If, for example, you’re using Facebook ads to drive traffic, study how to improve the way you write your ads.
- Customer relationships. It may seem unnecessary to establish customer relationships when sales and returns are automated. But, it’s advisable to find ways to create a relationship marketing aspect to your business. You can build customer relationships with a newsletter, a social media presence, and webinars. Turning customers into fans will help you grow your business much faster. You will get a lot of repeat business and customer referrals. Since it cost you to advertise to attract customers, why not continue the relationship even after they have made a purchase. Send them special discounts and offers for complementary products.
Strategy #2: Plan your home life.
One challenge of working from home is that it’s easy to get interrupted. You probably want to spend more time with your family, and they want to spend more time with you. It’s necessary to draw boundaries.
Here are some suggestions on how to draw a line in the sand between your work and your home life:
- Create a work schedule and discuss it with your husband and kids. You need their buy in for the schedule to be effective. Your goal is to create a schedule that everyone can agree on.
- Stick to your schedule. If you deviate from your schedule, then you can’t expect anyone else to take it seriously either.
- Work with a support team. Your husband, baby sitters, and doing swaps with other work at home moms can help you get more work time in if you need it.
- Take advantage of open spots in your schedule. Perhaps, there are times when your kids take a nap. Perhaps, they are times when your husband has to do an evening shift. Perhaps, there are days when your kids are involved in sports after school. Work when you have these opportunities, so you can spend more time with your family.
Strategy #3. Plan Your Future.
Treat your shop like a real business and not just a hobby.
Here are some ways to do that:
- Create a mission statement, a value statement, and a vision statement.
- Create a customer avatar. Once you have an idea of your perfect customer, you can focus on offering them more of what they want. You could tweak your sales copy to appeal to your ideal customers. You could also change your inventory to offer more of the products they are looking for.
- Set quarterly income goals. Don’t just hope for the best. Create financial forecasts. This will prod you to step up your marketing when monthly sales figures are lower than expected.
- Do a SWOT analysis of your business. Look at its Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Do this every quarter.
- Establish milestones for your business and what you believe needs to happen before you can scale it up.
These strategies are simple and can make a big difference. Tweak them to suit your own particular business.