Friday, May 29, 2009
It is my goal to offer you some encouragement. The whole purpose of this blog is to offer information and encouragement to individuals trying to profit from having a home business. I'm going through some of the same challenges and while I have not yet arrived, I would like to share some of my experiences, wisdom, knowledge, challenges and victories.
Balancing Your Day Job and Your Home Business
One thing I want to emphasize is the importance of knowing how to balance the two: Your Day Job and Your Home Business. Don't allow the two to overlap (unless of course you are selling some of your coworkers - assuming your company doesn't mind). I work for a large financial company during the day and one thing I struggle with is doing my work for my employer and trying to slide in extra time to do things to promote my business (like now). Fortunately, I work for a very flexible company and my manager is very understanding and is actually trying to help me in business. You may not be as fortunate in this area so it's important that you draw a clear line between the two. You don't ever want to find yourself in a position where you now have all the time in the world to work your home business but you now have to figure out a way to pay the bills.
Aside from focusing on your day job while you are there, when you are at home working your home business, focusing on that is just as important as if you were working for your employer. Don't bring work home or rob yourself of time that you could be using to promote and work on your home business. You need that time to innovate and complete specific tasks such as working on your advertising or web copy - especially since if you are working a day job, you have less time to work on your home business.
If you have any questions or would like me to share more of my experiences growing my home business, please feel free to reach out to me. I'm pretty transparent with folks (another good quality for running a home business).
Monday, May 25, 2009
- Write it down - Write down what you would like to accomplish a day in advance. Break that list up into "Must Do" and "Would like to do". This way you won't be disappointed if you don't get everything done but you will have accomplished the items of the highest priority
- Don't procrastinate by doing other things. Stay focused on the task at hand and don't let your mind wander. For example, let's say you are blogging (like me!), if you find that your mind is wandering thinking about what you are going to watch on tv later on, take that thought captive and get back on track.
- Don't multitask. Have you ever heard of the saying, "The fastest way from point A to point B is in a straight line?" Well, it's the same in business. While multitasking may seem like an effective way to get a lot of things done at once, you will actually find yourself starting a lot of things but not completing all of them.
Monday, May 18, 2009
Are you a multi-level marketer? Are you creating your own products by hand? Whatever your home business is, you must keep a stock of basic supplies in addition to any equipment you will require. Here's a top 25 basic supply list in no particular order (you can add to it based on the type of home business you are operating):
- Business Cards (keep a supply on hand and in your wallet)
- Pens, Pencils
- Printer/Copier Paper
- Post It Notes
- Stationery (Envelopes and Letterhead with your logo keenly displayed)
- Writing Pad for jotting down notes and ideas
- Laptop or Desktop Computer
- Multifunctional Printer/Copier/Fax/Scanner
- A supply of toner (nothing like running out of toner when you need to print an important document - Once you put in the last toner, buy a new one right away. Don't procrastinate or you may find yourself in a bind at the last moment)
- File Folders & Labels
- 3 Ring Binders
- Shipping Boxes & Labels
- Bubble Wrap
- Markers & Highlighters
- Stamp Pads
- Packing Tape
- A Pre-designed Invoice that you keep stored on your computer and/or CD for easy access to editing (don't forget to sport your logo on it and include all pertinent contact information, including your website address)
- Product containers such as bottles and tops
- Waterproof Labels for your product containers (Elements Bath Body and Home has an extensive supply for very fair prices. You can even purchase them by the sheet)
- To Do List Sheets
- Daily Planner and Calendar (Electronic preferred to minimize paper use)
- Marketing tools such as brochures or pamphlets. Keep a supply stocked up so you don't even fall short when you need to distribute one. It's a good idea to keep a few of these on hand when you travel as well
- Label maker
- Desk lamp
If you prefer a pre-printed office supply list, http://www.clutterdiet.com/ has one you can purchase for $7.50. They also offer a bunch of other neat supplies for your home business such as an internet password organizer. Boy I think I'm going to pick up one of these!
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Have you ever looked at a person's office or work space to see nothing but chaos? Well, for a home business owner, it's easy to get unorganized if you do not establish boundaries. You can easily cross those boundaries and mix home/family life items and documents with business documents.
To effectively create your workspace boundaries, it would be ideal to have a home office. However, everyone is not blessed with that kind of space. Some of us running a home business live in an apartment and the workspace is not much more than a corning in the living room with a computer hutch. Even still, you can set workspace boundaries by doing 5 simple things:
- Keep your computer that you use for your home business separate from the computer that the rest of the family uses. You should not be sharing a computer. If you are serious about creating workspace boundaries, when others ask to use the computer you use for your home business, you'll be wise to send them to the library or a friend's.
- Have a separate filing cabinet for your home business documents. You should not have your birth certificate and kid's social security cards in the same filing space
- Spend time each day clearing away clutter. Instead of using post it notes to jot down thoughts and ideas, use a notebook where you can keep it all in one place
- Set a schedule and create a to do list for each day of the week to work your home based business and stick to it. If you don't complete every task, that's ok. Start your tasks based on priority
- Use a separate phone line from your home phone line. There's nothing like being in the middle of talking to a business associate or customer and then having your daughter's friend beep in (I experienced this one personally)
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Here are some things to do and obtain to create a professional image for your home business:
- Choose your business name carefully and have a professional logo designed. No need to break the bank on this one. You can google "professional logo design" and you will have a whole host of companies competing for your business. Take your time and visit several sites to find the price that is right for you. Look at some of their sample work and contact some of the businesses that had the work completed for them. Never pay until you have a finished product you are satisfied with unless you receive an agreement detailing unlimited revisions....until you are satisfied. Your business logo can be compared to the headshot of an actor trying to get a crucial role. You want a good quality logo, of course at a reasonable price.
- Invest in some good quality business cards, letterhead and envelopes. Again, you don't have to break the bank on this one. Once you have the logo designed for your home business, you can upload it to VistaPrint. They have great quality business cards and stationary at affordable prices.
- Ensure you have a business email address (email@example.com won't cut it) that reflects what your home business is all about, or even tie it to your website (see below). For example, if your home business is entitled Jessica's Floral Arrangements, try an email address such as firstname.lastname@example.org. You may need to switch the name around depending on availability. Two of my husband and my websites are www.deadseastorebyrv.com and www.premiumcoffeebyrv.com. Our email addresses are tied to the website addresses respectively: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. There's an online solution, Avail 247, that offers a very inexpensive all in one communication solution for small business owners. You can obtain a fax #, toll free phone # and several business email addresses at unbelievably inexpensive prices.
- Get a website. I can not stress this one enough. A website really makes your home business look legit. Of course, when you design or have your website designed, you need to take into account the style, layout, fonts and colors. (Tip: always use a white background. Studies have shown that website visitors stick around longer, increasing your chances of converting a visitor to a customer. Perhaps it's because the color white gives the impression of a crisp, clean and professional look). Make sure your contact information (email and phone) is clearly posted on your website and viewable on all pages. Webs offers an inexpensive and even free website that can get you started. You can even purchase and apply your own domain name to it (remember, think business professional that describes what your home business is all about). If you have a network marketing home business, your network marketing company will probably have a website option available. In addition to our regular home based business, my husband and I are network marketers for Vitamark, an alternative health company. Our US affiliate # is 140789 should you be interested in joining our business.
I wish all mother's a Happy Mother's Day!
Sunday, May 3, 2009
After you have decided what type of home based business you want to have, you will then want to determine it's structure. You actually want to legalize your home business even before you get your credit card and checking account. The only reason I went into depth about organizing your finances for your home business is because that's what people are usually most concerned with.
When organizing your home business, you need to determine what type of legal entity it's going to be. There are many types of entities to consider when running a business. I'm not going to list them all, only the ones that are easy and least expensive to form. Since, we are discussing legalizing home based businesses, cost is an important factor to keep in mind. Here are some business structures to consider:
- Sole Proprietorship
- Limited Liability Company
- S Corporation
- General Partnership
As for Sole Proprietorships, Limited Liability Companies, S Corporations and General Partnerships, consider the following Pros and Cons of each entity:
Sole Proprietorship - Pros: Inexpensive and easy to create and operate. You can report your profits/losses on your personal income tax return. Cons: You are personally liable for all business debts
Limited Liability Company - Pros: Limited personal liability for business debts; One person can own 100% of interest; Profit and loss can be allocated differently than ownership interests; IRS rules allow LLCs to choose between being taxed as partnership or a corporation; You aren't required to hold meetings and keep minutes. Cons: More expensive to create than sole proprietorships and partnerships
S Corporation - Pros: You have limited personal liability for business debts; You can report your share of profit/loss on your personal income tax returns; You can use corporate loss to offset income you may have from other sources. Cons: More expensive to create than partnerships and sole proprietorships; This entity has tedious paperwork than that that of a limited liability company which offers similar advantages; Income must be allocated to owners according to ownership interests; if you own more than 2% of shares in the corporation, benefits may be limited
General Partnership - Pros: Inexpensive and easy to form and operate; All partners can report their share of profit/loss on their personal tax returns. Cons: You are personally liable for all business debts
Another important thing to get to establish your business is an EIN # (Employer Identification Number). This is also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number, and is used to identify a business entity. You will need an EIN # to open a business banking account, applying for business licenses, and filing a tax return by mail. The good news is you can apply online and it takes only about two weeks for it to be inputted into the IRS' system.
My home based business is established as a Limited Liability Company. I chose this entity because of the benefit of limited liability. My personal assets are protected in the event that I (God forbid) I am sued. However, now that I look back I wish I had operated as a Sole Proprietorship for a while and then became a Limited Liability Company. The cost for establishing my LLC in NY state was over $500. Fortunately, the laws have changed where tax reporting is concerned. Back in 2008, it cost $350 just to file a federal tax return for an LLC. Now, it's only $25 to file.
As you can see, there are so many choices available for legalizing your home business and this is not a decision to be taken lightly. Evaluate the pros and cons and determine what's best for you and your business. After you have decided on a business entity to legalize your home business, chosen a name for your business and obtained your EIN#, have a professional take care of the paperwork. In some cases you can do it yourself but to avoid mistakes and save yourself time, let the professionals take care of it. There are some online sites that can take care of it for you. I have dealt with two that I recommend Legal Zoom and AmeriLawyer.com