With the new year upon us, and with it comes a whole new budget and financial plan. With that in mind, former banker and money expert Jim McKinley of Money With Jim has some great advice for your small or home-based business.
Welcome to the 69 percent of United States entrepreneurs that opened up a new business in their home. It took a lot of drive, motivation, creativity and vision to get you here, so congratulations on your success! While you might be tempted to take a deep breath and maneuver into autopilot, now more than ever it’s critical that you keep your head in the game.
Around 50 percent of all small businesses fail; that’s a harsh reality. And while there are a lot of causes, the number one reason is incompetency. So how are you going to join the half that succeeds? Start by educating yourself and absorbing as much information as you can about the various nuances running a business.
We’re going to look at five areas where you need to get started.
Have A Strong Business Plan
Just because your a home-based business doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a business plan, and not just one. Every business owner should have both a short-term and a long-term business plan. The first will give you a valuable place to start with everything from identifying your target audience to estimating your financial goals. A subsequent long-term plan will help you establish your goals for growth.
Get started with a business plan template, like the one at the Small Business Administration, which can be a valuable resource for many things. Their online template is thorough, and even includes prompts to get you thinking about things you might not have considered.
Be Smart About Your Expenses
In addition to being an expert at your business, you’re going to need to learn to be an expert at financial record keeping. You won’t be doing this just to watch your business grow, but you’ll need solid records when tax time rolls around. For example, tracking your expenses, including dinner, entertainment, travel expenses, vehicle-related expenses and office supplies, will help you offset your tax obligation.
Carefully review and invest in an accounting app that will help you maintain perfect records.
How To Successfully Market Your Business
Once you’ve got a good start with the old “word of mouth” marketing plan through networking at local business meetings and with all your friends, you should focus on other types of marketing tools. Consider an internet website, social media marketing and more traditional radio and print advertising campaigns.
Put an emphasis on understanding SEO. Nearly all shoppers conduct online searches before they shop, and you’ll need to take advantage of this opportunity.
Prioritize Daily Tasks
Working out of the home can lead to one distraction after another, whether it’s the UPS man ringing the doorbell with your latest office supplies or children needing a lift to their after-school activities. A successful home-based business will require you to stay on-task the same as if you’re sitting in your office.
Use Evernote for creating important to-do lists, taking notes, attaching important spreadsheets, setting reminders and goals, and much more. This app is free, but a more comprehensive version will run around $34.99 a year.
Achieve A Healthy Work-Life Balance
Balancing a healthy home life with work is a challenge for just about everyone, and when you’re working from home that challenge becomes even harder. With kids and spouses competing for your time, alongside a full list of customers, life can seem a bit overwhelming. Add that to today’s demanding culture of around-the-clock availability and you’ll end up losing out on much-needed downtime.
The ability to focus heavily on your business and heavily on your family or personal life will be critical to your success. Pick up a book and learn some techniques to help you.
Just getting your business off the ground is an exciting accomplishment. But the success of your business will depend on many things: the ability to learn and adapt will be one of them. Use these tips and tools to help keep you on the winning side of that new business statistic.