4. Work where you’re most productive, even if it’s outside of your home. “Sometimes home is not the right place and work is not the right place—even when they are the same place,” says Stephanie Staples, a personal coach and motivational speaker. “I need a third location. For example, a donut shop, library—somewhere that even though other things are going on, I don’t have to pay attention or care about it. It is the power of the third location; I think differently, work differently, act differently there, and it really helps me.”
It’s a well-known fact that America’s small business owners are movers and shakers. They come up with innovative products and services; they employ about 50% of all private sector workers; and they persist even during tough economic times. But what might not be such a well-known fact is that most of them do all of this without even leaving their homes.
Affiliate marketing. You know this one already. You include links to products you are promoting as an affiliate, and every time somebody buys the product, you get a commission. With a blog you can integrate advertising with content to make it even more likely you’ll get the sale. For example, you could do a product review — which is useful content — and then include a link to buy the product under an affiliate link.
Another big suggestion is finding small and easy ways to test business ideas and assumptions. I think this is implicit in your post. For example, if you have an idea for a digital course, you may do a free webinar on the same topic first. If you can’t get enough people to show up for a free webinar, then there probably isn’t enough interest for a paid product on the topic.
Many courses exist (many of which, logically, are offered online) where you can learn the language of website creation and can learn about the details, like how to set up shopping cart systems, security concerns, etc. You will, of course, need to learn about each company you design for. What is the atmosphere of the company that you need to reflect in the website design--is it wild and contemporary, meaning brilliant colors and fun graphics? Or will more classic colors like black, navy blue and maroon be more appropriate?
The first step in getting a top ranking in the search engines is to submit or suggest your site to them. In other words, you have to provide them with details about your small online business site. You want to make sure that the “spiders”–automated programs that crawl the web indexing sites for the search engines–find your site and include it in the search results.
If you have a way with words and know how to make the keyword-friendly, beautifully designed, SEO-optimized landing pages, why not charge other companies for your services and turn it into a money-making side business idea? Even a short landing page is worth a couple hundred bucks in most cases, and so much more if you know how to pitch your prospects well. If you want to get started with your business idea of becoming a landing page specialist or freelance copywriter, check out Len Smith and Sean Kaye's awesome course on Udemy, Copywriting Secrets: How to Write Copy That Sells.
For example, you can’t work from your dining room table in the morning and then eat dinner there at night and call it your home office, says LuSundra Everett, an enrolled agent — that is, a federally licensed tax professional — who specializes in home business taxes. “It has to be a specific, designated area where nothing goes on but business,” Everett says. “It can be a desk or even just a closet, but it has to be a specific, dedicated space.”
Keep your clients well informed: When clients spend their money on you, they want to be kept apprised of your progress, not only to stay in touch with the project, but also to keep a watchful eye out for problems before they get out of hand. Do your clients a favor, and keep them informed about your project’s progress. Whether the news is good or bad, your clients and customers will appreciate your forthrightness and candor.
Becoming an Uber driver has quickly become a great way for people to get their own business off the ground. You will need to pass a background check and have valid instate driver’s license and auto insurance. The process is pretty painless and will get you rolling on your own business. Many people start as an Uber driver to pay the bills while they work on another business that they are more passionate about. Check out our post to learn more about Uber driver requirements.
Your home office also must be your principal place of business if you want to claim the deduction. Some small business owners fear that taking the home office deduction will trigger an IRS audit. While even tax pros don’t know exactly how the IRS decides whom to audit, most agree that small business owners should not worry about the home office deduction bringing the IRS to their door.
Mild spoiler alert: Viewers of the TV drama Orange Is the New Black might remember that the show’s main character made amends with one of her fellow prison inmates by making her a soothing lotion. Hopefully you won’t find yourself in prison, but if you find yourself wanting to start a home-based business, consider hand-making soaps and lotions yourself.
But many people put themselves in a very similar position by starting home-based businesses without considering the profit angle. Business is about profit, and without sufficient profit, you'll never have enough income to even pay the bills, let alone generate wealth. (For more on creating a business that actually produces income, see Change Your Business Model and Watch Your Profits Soar!)
To do what you love, you first have to know what kind of work you really want to do. This requires intense introspection and an understanding of which kinds of work get your creative juices flowing and which kinds dry them up. Doing what you love also sometimes requires that you ignore what other people want you to do for a living. You may decide, for example, that you’d really like to start a recording studio in your home, but your spouse or best friend may think something more practical, such as buying into a fast-food franchise, makes more sense. Ultimately, you must decide what you’re going to do for a living — even if it means you can’t work at home.
52. Start networking. “Hibernating is fine for bears, but not for people,” says Edwards. “Identify and join social networks and local trade and business associations thatwill advance your business.” Russak of First Time Online recommends creating a Facebook page, Twitter account, and LinkedIn profile as alternatives to your website so you can “be in five places at once from the comfort of your living room.”
Another starting point is to have an idea that very few people other than the founders can actually build. These technical feats provide a natural defense against competition. Remember, every hard problem you solve drops a massive obstacle in front of anyone who’d want to replicate you. Certain problems haven’t been solved because none of the few people smart enough to do so have made it happen. Look at something like Google, which co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin were technically capable of building at a time when not many people were. Back then, there were very few people smart enough to build their own search engine let alone imbue it with software that could crawl and rank the entire World Wide Web.
Getting beyond the decor of your office, it’s important to fill your workspace with the proper tools. Opinions vary, but generally your home office essentials should include a computer, a second monitor so you can multitask if necessary, backup for your data, a printer, and a scanner. Other home office must-haves: good lighting, virtual or traditional telephone service, a surge protector, a fire safe box, a shredder for sensitive documents, and an uninterruptible power supply. Even if a paperless office is your goal, you might still need a file cabinet to neatly store the inevitable documents that will otherwise pile up in your office.
When you have your name decided on, you have to register it. Nominet is the official registry for all UK domain names. The UK Domain by Nominet provides free expert advice helping businesses to achieve more online. The domain search and domain name comparison tools will help you to check that your chosen .UK domain is available, then present you with a selection of accredited registrars to choose from, giving you information on each so that you can make an informed decision to buy a domain with confidence.
Do you need to build from scratch? Also keep in mind that depending on your particular business, it may or may not be necessary to build (or pay someone to build) a site from scratch. Especially when you’re in the early stages, options like Squarespace and Shopify simplify the process of setting up an ecommerce site by providing templates that don’t require much if any knowledge of HTML or coding.
New entrepreneurs often find it difficult in determining what to charge. Factors that will influence your pricing include the value your customers place in your products and services and what they are willing to pay for them; your industry’s pricing guidelines; and your own pricing strategy and “formula.” Your accountant can guide you in determining how to charge enough for each “billable” hour or product to cover your expenses and to ensure you will be making a profit.
There are more and more third-party ecommerce marketplaces available, like eBay, Etsy, Amazon, and even Airbnb or Fiverr, depending on your product or service. Building a business through one of those ecommerce marketplaces can simpler, since you’ll have to make fewer decisions, and you won’t have to build your website yourself—you’ll use an existing template.
Your business is only going to come to life if you do the things you need to do to bring it to fruition. If you continue to put off the things you need to do to get your business started until tomorrow--you're too busy at work, or your kids need you to pick them up at the mall, your spouse wants you to watch a popular new television show--then when will you ever get around to doing them?