The COVID-19 global pandemic has no doubt altered life as we know it. As the world begins to slowly get back on its feet, attitudes and behaviours are also changing. A good number of people and organisations are starting to rethink the conventional model of working and earning. Enter the new buzzword – ‘Working from home.’
In fact, a CNN report said tech companies are letting employees – who had to work from home because of the general enforced lockdown to curtail the deadly virus – to continue to work remotely after the pandemic is over. And in May, Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey announced that any staff member that wants to can work from home “forever” as the company positions itself for the future of work when the pandemic ends.
Working or doing business from home permanently sure sounds like a tantalising prospect. You get more flexibility with your time while making money. No more long commute times or trying to beat the rush hour. You no longer have to put up with high pollution levels and operational costs, and your morale gets a big boost. Heck, you can even work in your pyjamas sometimes. Or most of the time.
But wait a sec. Is doing business from home all rosy? No, it isn’t.
Although you’ll enjoy all the benefits I’ve outlined above and more, there’s no shortcut or guarantee your business-from-home enterprise will be a hit. Like every true success, it needs long term dedication and a clear understanding of how to make it work.
To build a solid home-based business with good income potential, you’ll need to invest time and resources into figuring out the most ideal business for you and creating a plan. But you need to skip the first hurdle – and it’s one that could shock you. Here goes…
Fact Check: Home Business is Not for Everyone
Not everyone can work from home as a routine. Some people, for example, have difficulty focusing and working at their best if they’re not in a typical large or fairly large office setup far from their immediate environment. The home structure just doesn’t gel with them.
Being successful with a home-based business is mostly because you have a passion about the work and what is involved to get it running smoothly – not because a pushy digital marketer is egging you on to sign up for a particular ‘home business’ you’re not even sure suits you.
So the first place to start is to evaluate your talents and recognise your personality type, or the things that come naturally to you. Note that to succeed at any business venture, you need to build it on and around your talent – including a home-based business.
Your talents and personality traits are closely interwoven, which can help you determine whether self-employment fits you well.
What are the top characteristics of successful self-employed people and entrepreneurs? They are:
- Open to new experiences
- Have tremendous belief in their ability to succeed (self-efficacy)
- Don’t shy from risk
- Have a drive towards achievement and independence
Be honest with yourself as you evaluate your talents and personality to see if you’ll do well as a home business owner.
Evaluate your skills
Talents and skills don’t mean the same thing. Talents are like the proverbial diamond in the rough and skills are the actual diamond. You’re born with one and you develop the other over time.
What skills have you developed from your talents? Excellent writers, artists and designers built and finetuned those skills from their natural creative proclivities. Brilliant accountants and auditors very likely observed from the onset that they have a flair for numbers and details.
Beyond the core and exceptional professional skills that you’ve developed over time, to successfully run a business, you also need to learn new skills such as marketing, leadership, interpersonal communication and team-building.
But start with the skills you already have as foundation in developing a business idea. They are good pointers to where you would fit in best with your natural talents.
Determine whether you can actually run your business idea from home
Not all business ideas operate well on the ‘work-from-home’ model. Some won’t work at all. Be sure your planned business doesn’t fall into that bracket, considering various factors. For example, a business that involves high client traffic coming in and going out of your workspace is a no-no for a home-based enterprise.
Determine the income potential
That you have exceptional talents and skills that help you express it does not automatically mean people would be willing to pay you for it. Find out if the product or service you’ll be offering is something people will be ready to exchange more for and if you can make sufficient income from it on say a monthly basis.
If you don’t feel confident about your answers, then the idea won’t probably work as a home business.
Don’t forget to still look the part as a professional
You don’t always have to work from home in your pyjamas or casual wear. You just need to work where you are most productive at that specific time.
Sometimes you may want to rent an office for a day, an office address or a conference room space when it feels right. Focus on working on your business, not in your business.
Branding is vital
It’s important you create a distinct and attractive identity for your business through good and deliberate branding. This will also help clearly get your business promise and messages across to your target customers, connect you with them and build credibility for your brand or business.
Buyers will be more motivated to patronise your product or service and become loyal once their brand experience matches your brand promise.
Join professional groups
Loneliness and limited social interaction are some of the demons you’ll have to face when you start running a home business. One of the ways to battle this is by joining up with professional groups in your city or small town.
This will afford you a chance to occasionally step out of the house and away from your computer and meeting like-minded people. Besides, you’ll be able to tell more people about your unique goods or services at these events.
Don’t try to do everything yourself
You’ll feel the temptation to try to cover all areas of your business needs to save money. But you risk undermining your business primary goals if you try to do most or all of your task lists. Resist the urge and save yourself valuable time and energy instead to channel into growing your business.
Instead, outsource key business needs outside of your specialisation to competent and experienced professionals in website content writing, website and corporate identity design – for example.
Don’t skimp on marketing
Home-based businesses often find marketing one tough nut to crack. You’ll need to cough up a few bucks to effectively get your product or service in the face of new customers.
Master the art of setting priorities
As a home business owner, you must be an excellent ball juggler – figuratively speaking. Know which balls are glass and which are rubber. Knowing where your priority lies at every specific time is the key to succeeding.
On a final note, be patient
Here’s another fact check: You don’t start a home business in a day. It takes time and you’ll need patience.
Even after your website is live, you may not make your first sale until probably a month or a couple later. Your social media following and likes may be crickets – Zero or some measly numbers, regardless of some great photos and content you post.
But keep pushing and working on your business, and you’ll see something will come of it shortly. Your persistence will eventually pay off sooner than you think.